Batman: Arkham City was originally a comic book miniseries about the events leading up to the plot of the video game of the same name. It shows how Mayor Quincy Sharp and Professor Hugo Strange went about setting up Arkham City and how Batman goes about trying to stop it.
For those of you who don't know, this is a interquel in between the video games Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City. In Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman has to survive a Joker controlled Arkham Asylum while trying to take down the clown prince of crime who is also fielding a super steroid drug similar to the Venom drug used by Bane called Titan. In Batman: Arkham City, Quincy Sharp and Hugo Strange have walled off a portion of Gotham City into a huge, open air prison, the eponymous Arkham City. There, they've thrown all of the criminals from Blackgate Prison and Arkham Asylum into it.
The plot's issues with due process and the legal definition of insanity aside, which it lampshades, this miniseries, written by acclaimed bat-scribe Paul Dini, is okay for the most part, but isn't particularly outstanding. The main thrust of the plot, which is Batman trying to figure out who the mastermind behind Arkham City is, is something we already know, taking a lot of air out of the series' sails. This series is by and large a series of vignettes showing what happened between the two videogames. That's not to say that there's some good stuff here, such as the tale of thug Lester Kurtz, who is not at all who he seems to be. That was a good one. There was also a great moment between Batman and Two-Face, and Batman and the Carpenter. There's also some smaller stories at the end of the book, featuring characters such as Professor Strange, Robin, the Riddler, and Bane. Mind you, a lot of this stuff is covered by story material found in the game, but is elaborated upon in comic book form, such as the relationship between Sharp and Strange. Thusly (man, I love that word), I'll give the book credit for doing what it set out to do. Of all these, my favorite story was the Riddler story, mainly because the Riddler is one of my favorite villains. I also liked the Robin story, which I liked because it's Tim Drake's Robin, and because it had some of the book's few silent panels.
One thing I use to judge a comic book like this one is by its use of silent panels, which there are very few of in this book. There's like, three to five, max. Comics need silent panels to channel story without being cluttered by speech bubbles or caption boxes, in order to slow the pace down or speed it up when it needs to. Speaking of panels, the art was fine enough, but I've seen better. Everything just seems a little boxy to me, which is fitting since the artist, Carlos D'Anda, used to draw for the Bionicle comic book series. I guess I'm willing to be lenient on somebody with those references.
Another thing I would have liked to see more of is a focus on how Commissioner Gordon and the GCPD are handling the creation of Arkham City and the taking over of security by the TYGER guards. True, we see a scene of Gordon and Bats talking, and a panel narrated by Strange of Gordon and some cops watching the opening of Arkham City, but we never really get down and dirty with these guys. That's something that Gotham Central was really good at, and which this series would have done good to show more of.
Something I decidedly didn't like about this graphic was Strange's lame excuse for fleeing four years earlier in the face of what amount to malpractice charges. Basically, he says he was framed and "knew" he wouldn't get a fair trial. Strange, this isn't Bolivia, of course you'll get a fair trial.
In the end, I'll say that this miniseries, while not great, was by no means bad. It has it's issues (no pun intended), but it's okay. It did what it was designed to do, which was to elaborate upon plot details presented in the video game. It didn't break any new ground, but still, it did what it was made to do. I liked what we saw of Robin and Commissioner Gordon, not to mention Jack Ryder and Vicki Vale. But was it worth my seventeen bucks? Sadly, not really.