Arkham City and The Black Mirror

ImaJunation’s Bad Days is one of my favorite sources for superhero parodies.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS WARNING!

I liked the movies (the new ones and the old ones) and the TV shows (the cartoons and the live-action), but it wasn’t until I played the Arkham City video game that I actually wanted to read a Batman comic.

With the help of Wikipedia I reacquainted myself with characters I had been introduced to through Batman: The Animated Series and updated myself on new developments like Barbara Gordon becoming the Oracle and Batman’s relationship with Talia al Ghul.

The Arkham City game is an intriguing interactive story set inside the city blocks that make up Gotham’s slums. They have been walled in and converted into an enormous prison complex by . Gotham’s mayor, Quincy Sharp. Mayoral appointee Dr. Hugo Strange serves as the prison’s warden. Unbeknownst to Mayor Sharp, Dr. Strange has his own plans for Arkham — Protocol 10.

The inmates of Arkham City struggle for power as they would on the outside. Each super villain — Penguin, Joker, and Two-Face — commands a band of somewhat loyal followers. To complicate matters, the Joker has transfused his own toxic blood into Batman. You play as Batman. Your mission is find the cure to save yourself and the Joker. In addition to the primary mission, there are several side missions involving the other villains.

The stories that contextualized the missions (primary and side) were so good that I was driven to finally read a Batman comic. Not knowing where to begin, I chose titles based on writers I recognized. I decided on Scott Snyder’s Batman: The Black Mirror because I liked reading American Vampire and his collection of short stories, Voodoo Heart.

The Black Mirror deserves the accolades it’s gotten on Goodreads. IGN voted it best comic in 2011. Despite my dated and superficial knowledge of the Batman universe The Black Mirror was relatively easy to get into. In fact, my lack of knowledge made it more intriguing.

Imagine Bruce Wayne changed after a near-death experience. He sets out across the globe to establish a network of “Batmen” (Batman, Inc.) Dick Grayson, the original Robin, takes on the role of Batman with the help of Barbara Gordon (formerly Batgirl, now Oracle) and Tim Drake (formerly another Robin, now Red Robin).

The interesting parts of the story for me are those moments when Dick has to contend with the original owner of the shoes he’s filling — Bruce Wayne’s Batman. There is one monologue in particular where he is thinking to himself about how Bruce didn’t like to fly over the city on patrol. It cleverly reveals Dick’s discomfort with the cowl or his attempt to assert his own “Bat-identity” from beneath the shadow of his predecessor’s.

Just like in Arkham City, the main story (the one involving the Commissioner’s son) in The Black Mirror has an interesting twist at the end too.

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