The Arkham Knight’s true debut after their initial introduction in “Detective Comics” #1000 gets medieval on this bat in highly entertaining form.
Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Illustrated by Brad Walker
Colored by Nathan Fairbairn
Lettered by Rob Leigh
After 1,000 issues, you’d think Batman could finally have a break…but no: as a new era dawns, he’s facing the most dangerous threat of his career! The Arkham Knight has arrived in Gotham City with an entire round table of deadly allies, and their first encounter will leave Batman shaken to his core!
When it comes to the Arkham Knight, knowledgeable readers can’t help but draw comparisons to the source of this antagonist, the 2015 video game Batman: Arkham Knight from Rocksteady Games. When they first emerged, the most apparent question was their identity and how close to the source Peter Tomasi would write. Luckily, rather than rely upon common knowledge from a video game that is nearing its fourth anniversary, Tomasi pulls his story into a fresh new direction.
Outside of the initial mystery surrounding the deaths of many bats all around Gotham City, most of the plot of “Detective Comics” #1001 concentrates in on the Arkham Knight and their compatriots, all centered around not a “militaristic Batman” approach like the video game that acts as the Knight’s source, but instead one based around, to use a description directly from Tomasi’s script, “knights with a 21st century bent.” The new direction for the Arkham Knight, one that emphasizes the “knight” aspect instead of just using it as a nod to the Dark Knight himself, helps to position this latest addition to Batman’s rogues gallery without being too repetitive of earlier concepts such as the most easily used “anti-Batman,” Wrath. The focus in on combating Batman’s modus operandi in the dark, rather than on exercising some wider plan so far, aids in this anti-Batman focus even further, possibly to the point of in-world monomania. The fact that the technology used by the Knights of the Sun and their leader is so perfectly geared to fight against Batman’s own arsenal to the point of it being completely ineffective, that they are apparently some kind of “anti-Batman army,” adds a layer of mystery to their first fight that will leave readers wanting more.
That said, Tomasi doesn’t only concentrate on the Arkham Knight and their Knights of the Sun. Even outside of the common call to Commissioner Gordon, Tomasi also brings in other elements of the rogues gallery to fill some more pages. Francine Langstrom’s insertion into the plot of “Detective Comics” #1001 feels completely natural, even as it also appears to be a manner of getting Batman to a specific part of the city. Her connection to bats due to her previous intake of the Man-Bat Serum from her husband is played to terrifying, disturbing levels, not unlike an addiction or other form of compulsion. Even as she is ostensibly antagonistic, Langstrom never truly comes across as a villain, but rather as a victim of her own circumstances not unlike Dr. Kirk Langstrom himself.
Brad Walker’s artwork comes across in two separate types of scenes: the stationary and the dynamic. With the quieter first segments, Walker excels in establishing shots and close-ups both. The dissection of a bat is gruesome but realistic, the facial expressions on James Gordon, Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne, and a nameless GCPD patrolman all showing a variety of emotions from determination to intrigue to surprise or annoyance. Even as the scenes transition to a more action-heavy script, the focus on facial expressions remains, particularly when it comes to the half-crazed actions of Francine Langstrom. Between the tortured or otherwise neurotic expressions, the sweat dripping down her face, all of it is harrowing even before she transforms into her alternate identity.
On the other hand, dynamism is a necessary prospect when faced with a script as fast paced as “Detective Comics” #1001 becomes in its second half. Once the action begins, everything focuses on motion. From a jump that reaches across a room and away from a distant camera to the rather crazy action of essentially surfing a gigantic bat through the skies of Gotham, complete with blood flowing off into the distance from wounds gathered in flight, all of it speaks to the sheer speed of movement. Both in the attempt to stop the rampage and in the fight that comes after, action is not only shown in single figures, but with multiple iterations of Batman and his opponent or opponents to give a sense of just how fast the action is moving without a need to show across multiple panels.Continued below
Nathan Fairbairn uses two different color palettes depending upon the level of daylight. Dark blues and browns fill the night, with spurts of red blood and, on the whole, an overall darker color scheme. This coloration is shown in contrast to brighter situations within that same darkness. First, areas under the lights of a flame or a forge show a glow from that light source, the light actually causing a cast of a far darker shadow to emphasize the antagonism of the Knights of the Sun and their leader. On the other hand, an artificial lamp from above gives a more evenhanded light source, illuminating our protagonist instead of casting a darker shade.
On the other hand, we have areas in the light on their own. A daylight situation allows for a far more ostensibly hopeful scenario, not unlike what the Knights would have wanted to believe, with Fairbairn utilizing that very brightness along with green leaves and a blue sky to contrast against the dire situation in which our Dark Knight finds himself.
Rob Leigh seems to be having a lot of fun with the lettering on “Detective Comics” #1001, especially when it comes to onomatopoeia. A snapped rope has letters that are uneven and a bright yellow in contrast to the classic “black text on white dialogue,” and a transparent orange of a crash of glass shows itself as stretching across an entire scene to demonstrate the chaos of a superhero situation breaking randomly through a building. In all, the sounds physically follow the action, with curves and new colors, making for a very entertaining reading experience.
In all, the first installment in the ‘Medieval’ arc (as this one seems to be called) shows us a glimpse into an interesting new antagonist for the Caped Crusader as he comes out into the light of day.
Final Verdict: 8.5– Batman is the night, but Peter Tomasi’s take on the Arkham Knight brings the focus out into the light of day with a fresh new take on a character’s introduction to the wider DC universe, aided in a great script with equally engrossing artwork, colors, and lettering.