He sat in the ragged chair. Its yellowed stuffing burst from a dozen seams. A small TV flickered before him. It was one of his favorite programs–CCTV footage spliced from the TYGER cameras that loomed over every street corner of the so-called Arkham City.
The footage, barely visible, showed a small, dark figure skulking about a rooftop. Abruptly he stopped and ducked behind an HVAC unit. And then–enter stage left!–a group of well-armored security officers–TYGER thugs, he knew–creeped into view. They kept their automatic rifles in front of them, evidently aware of the intruder’s presence.
Then there was a blur of motion. Perhaps twenty seconds past, and when it was over, five TYGER officers were on the ground, moaning, and the figure was leaping off the roof into the darkness.
A short laugh–more a dry cough, really–crackled from his bloody throat. He idly fingered the tip of the item in his hand. It was a tire iron…a very special tire iron, one he had kept safe for years now. Too many good memories. And who knew? Maybe it had a few more in store.
The Arkham videogames have quickly become big business for DC Comics. While DC attempts to draw in new readers with the New 52 initiative, today’s young generation is becoming familiar with their characters much more from movies like The Dark Knight and videogames like Batman: Arkham City. I wonder how the two million copies of Arkham City sold in October compares to the total money the comics division of DC Entertainment will make in 2011.
It doesn’t hurt that the Arkham games are excellent, with top-notch gameplay and compelling stories written by master Batman scribe Paul Dini. To me, the Arkham games have felt like a more adult version of the 1990s animated series, which makes sense given the staff involved (Dini writing, Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill voicing Batman and the Joker, respectively).
But perhaps my favorite thing about the games is their aesthetic. The art style and character designs walk a fine line between the realism of The Dark Knight and the look of the comics. It’s a difficult balance that could easily come out looking terrible, but the art team at Rocksteady Studios nailed it. In some ways it’s the superhero equivalent of Hasbro’s G.I. Joe: The Pursuit of Cobra toys–more realistic takes on iconic character designs.
Because the aesthetic is so distinctive and the games so popular, it’s not surprising toymakers ranging from DC Direct to Mattel to Square Enix have all jumped on the bandwagon. The figures from each company differ significantly; Mattel’s are more articulated but the sculpts are soft; DC Direct’s are better-sculpted but less articulated; and while the Square Enix figures look like they’ll have both great sculpting and great articulation, they’re based more on the game’s concept art and SE’s own artistic interpretation than the in-game models.
I reviewed Mattel’s Arkham City Batman & Two-Face set a few months back, and found it disappointing. I didn’t mind the sculpt so much as the poorly-engineered articulation. Let’s see how the second two-pack, Robin and the Joker, fares.