Gobbledygeek episode 340, “Batman: A Death in the Family (feat. Kenn Edwards),” is available for listening or download right here and on iTunes here.
For the (belated) inaugural installment of Four-Color Flashback 2018, wherein Paul and Arlo will be discussing a different classic superhero story each month, they’ve recruited their old pal Kenn Edwards to help them discuss Batman: A Death in the Family by writer Jim Starlin and artist Jim Aparo. Kenn knows a thing or two about the Caped Crusader, having been part of the Batman Immortal fan film project. However, he’s never read this particular story, in which the Joker savagely beats Robin to death. That puts him on equal footing with our hosts: it’s one of Arlo’s blind spots and Paul hasn’t read it since it was published in 1988. They’re all a little shocked by how anachronistic its goofy plotting and dialogue seem given its release in a post-Dark Knight Returns landscape. Superhero comics were starting to mature, and this one feels like it may have gotten left behind. The gang discusses the impact of Robin’s death; whether Bruce’s hypocrisy is a bug or a feature; the ludicrous political implications of the Joker’s scheme; and why the follow-up story A Lonely Place of Dying is much better. Plus, Arlo is still watching Disney cartoons.
Next: be vewwy, vewwy quiet. The boys and their pal Nate Curtiss are hunting Krasinskis for a discussion of A Quiet Place.
(Show notes for “Batman: A Death in the Family.”)
When Batman: Arkham Asylum was released in 2009, it was nothing short of a revolution for superhero video games. Before, there had been a handful of great superhero games, but most of them had been arcade side-scrollers or team brawlers (Activision’s first Spider-Man game is a notable exception). Arkham Asylum, however, placed you so fully in Bruce Wayne’s combat boots that it actually felt as if you got to know the hero better just by pushing some buttons and toggling an analog stick. Not only did you battle some of the Dark Knight’s greatest villains, you also sneaked around in the shadows, stealthily taking out bad guys before they even noticed you were upon them. The mix of fighting-and-hiding was extremely addictive and felt like the reinvention of an entire genre.
At the time, it would have been ridiculous to look at Arkham Asylum and go, “Great game, but look at all that untapped potential!” After having played Arkham City, though, it’s a reasonable reaction. Almost everything that was great about the first game has been refined, perfected, and expanded to create the most immersive superhero game yet released. The most obvious example is the fact that you can actually explore the vastness of Arkham City itself. One of the joys of the original was exploring the asylum grounds, but now that a portion of Gotham has been cordoned off as one big looney bin, you can glide past skyscrapers and swing from building to building. Whenever you get frustrated with a side mission or tire of beating down thugs, you can revel in the simple pleasure of zipping around the city, an exhilarating experience in and of itself.
In 2009, Rocksteady Studios hit it out of the park with their multi-platform phenomenon BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM. Now we get our first official look at gameplay footage to the follow-up, ARKHAM CITY (October 18, 2011 for U.S. Xbox 360, PS3, and PC) in the newest trailer.
Hugo Strange. Two-Face. Harley. Catwoman. Some new Bat-fu moves. And of course… the Joker. All set to the grooves of “Short Change Hero” by The Heavy.
Obviously we haven’t seen the third Bat film yet, or the other 99.9% of this game. But I’d be beyond thrilled if the next Nolanverse entry were half as badass as Arkham Asylum looks to be.