Saturday, August 8, 2015

Arkham Manor

 Stately Wayne Manor......made over into a madhouse? Holy headcases, Batman!

 I have already given up on DC, thanks to "The New 52"...However, I do still give an ever-dwindling number of their books an occasional look, and I've heard good things about author Gerry Duggan, so I decided to make ARKHAM MANOR one of those exceptions.

 Aside from Scott Snyder's BATMAN, I'm totally out of the loop as far as current Bat-continuity goes. This story seems to have sprung out of events in the BATMAN ETERNAL maxi-series, but none of that is explained here. You pretty much have to hit the ground running, because nothing is offered up for new/unfamiliar readers.

 It seems as if Arkham Asylum was somehow destroyed, and Bruce Wayne is destitute, so Gotham's Mayor decides to use Eminent Domain laws to take over the deserted Wayne Manor, and use it to house the Arkham inmates.

 Right off the bat, an inmate is murdered, so Batman creates a new identity and goes undercover as an inmate to catch the killer. There are a lot of Bat-rogues on hand to play smaller parts, and a lot of padding to draw the mystery out across six issues, but the story itself is fairly small and inconsequential. The mystery is, ultimately, one that cannot be solved by astute readers, the end just kind of happens, and the reveal of the killer is a big letdown. No reason is given for the murders, no motive..... Gerry Duggan needed them to happen, so they happened. There's also a puzzling appearance by The Joker, and he has his face back.....I have no idea how that happened, what he's doing incarcerated in the manor, or why he does what he explanation is given. (This is a HUGE pet peeve of mine, about modern comics in general, and "The New 52" in particular....They've made continuity so damned tight, yet they insist on not giving any "Story so far..." recaps, or telling you just WHERE in continuity these stories fall.)

 The art, by Shawn Crystal, is decent, but it's serving a half-baked story. Chalk it up to another acclaimed writer that I just don't get the acclaim for.

 ARKHAM MANOR collects the six-issue mini-series of the same name, complete with all covers and variants, and includes an extensive gallery of Shawn Crystal's sketches and penciled pages.

 DC Comics provided a review copy.

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