Detective Comics #1004
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Brad Walker
This is it, the origin of the Arkham Knight. And honestly, Tomasi has every reason to mess this up. The character was just a rip-off of Red Hood in his original appearance. And DC shoehorning him into Detective Comics #1000 makes this feel more like an editorial decision than a natural story. I figured the Arkham Knight would either retcon stuff for the sake of shock value or be some nobody who we’ll forget about three panels after this story is over. But Tomasi actually does a great job with the Arkham Knight. He struck the perfect balance of making a new character and mixing in the established Batman mythos.
Astrid Arkham is a really interesting idea for a character. During a riot in Arkham, the villains of the Asylum helped deliver Astrid. But upon seeing Astrid’s mom surrounded by a group of villains, a rookie guard picked up a discarded batarang and accidentally flew it right into Astrid’s mother’s neck. Yikes. Growing up without a mom, Astrid relied on the inmates in the Asylum to teach her things. She even refers to Joker as “Uncle Joker”.
I really like this backstory because it doesn’t conflict with the established Batman mythos. This isn’t some dark secret that will change the way we see Batman forever. This is just an original and natural villain backstory. In just one issue, Astrid already feels like a fully fleshed out Bat-villain.
But this issue was a massive info-dump. Yes, I enjoyed reading it, but there had to be a better way to learn about Astrid’s backstory. At times, this issue felt like an unskippable cut-scene. Almost the entirety of this issue is dedicated to learning Astrid’s bat-story. And we aren’t learning it through a flashback, we’re just being told about it by Dr. Arkham.
Another thing Tomasi nails in this issue is the cameos. Tomasi isn’t afraid to bring in all kinds of characters from the Bat-verse and beyond. I love the dynamic between Bruce and Damian. After Batman and Robin and Super Sons, Tomasi is more than qualified to write Damian. But Tomasi also brings in a bunch of first-time appearances. Both Anton Arcane and Dr. Phosphorous pop up in this issue. I enjoy the spotlight these more underrated characters get.
If there’s one thing to complain about in this issue, it’s the art. Walker’s art is by no means bad. The problem is that it isn’t anything special. One of my main complaints is the lack of detail in his backgrounds. But his art certainly doesn’t take away from the story.
Overall, Detective Comics #1004 is a surprisingly good read. Tomasi fleshes out the Arkham Knight in a really interesting way. This story is starting to pick up steam and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.
Detective Comics (2016-) #1004
Tomasi creates and interesting and natural backstory for the Arkham Knight in this issue.