Saturday, July 27, 2013

Batman: Arkham Unhinged #3 (Comic)

Early last month, I took a look at the second issue of the Arkham Unhinged tie-in material for the outstanding Batman: Arkham City. While it managed to be a pretty good follow-up to the first issue, its art could have been better, since the odd penciling and inking proved to be distracting. This issue, which is very self-contained compared with the previous one, not only shows how well Derek Fridolfs can write Batman characters, but the art is also a better step in the right direction.

Before I truly begin, I want to say that I am aware of the length of time it is taking me to review the Arkham Unhinged issues. The thing is, I'd like to review them quicker, but at the same time I have other things going on and plenty of other reviews planned, be they video games or otherwise. At this point, it's the best I can do based on how I've prioritized things (the DmC comic in fact was reviewed before this because it was a collection of a completed comic, which has higher priority for review than a comic still being published).

The story of this issue, "Ruffled Feathers", deals this time with The Joker and The Penguin, more specifically their relations from the latter's point of view via narration (this is despite Joker being prominent on the cover). Basically, a deal conducted by The Penguin for supplies has gone awry, thanks to Joker's intervention. After scolding his remaining henchmen, Penguin decides to explain how his "no clowns" policy came into being. The execution of the plot in this manner creates a pattern that is obviously influenced by the book originally being in three digital parts, but it works well for separating the story into a good beginning, middle and end coupled with an effective framing device. What motivation is revealed for the aforementioned "no clowns" policy actually makes sense, since it's revealed that it has to do with Joker publicly humiliating Penguin, as Oswald Cobblepot, at the Iceberg Lounge. Based on how Penguin explains this, I can understand the animosity toward Joker and its influence on his actions. I'm not quite sure what to think of the last third of the book, since I'm not sure when during the game that could have happened, but it does end the story on an interesting note that seems to be there only to cement this animosity. Overall, the writing proves to continue being good.

Thankfully, the art is also up to par. This time, however, there are two pencilers, Simon Coleby and Bruno Redondo, whose art styles seem to better match the tone of the Arkhamverse than last issue. Gabe Eltaeb's coloring is also good, with darker colors to compliment the atmosphere nicely. The only chink in the art this time, I'd say, is the inking. I can't tell who of the three inkers, Coleby along with Santi Casas and Cliff Rathburn, did which section, but there's an odd bit of over-inking that seems to emphasize the circle around the eyes a little much, as well as making Penguin look just a little older than necessary (yeah, he's old, but come on). Still, I like the art better and I hope that this quality, with a little tweaking, persists in future issues.

Arkham Unhinged thus far hasn't been able to legitimately disappoint me in these rereads. The writing continues to be strong and the art has only gotten better (though it did hit a low last time, so it's more noticeable). The inking is a little off, but otherwise everything comes together well to create a Penguin-centirc issue that is worth reading to understand what's going through his mind during Arkham City.

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