The third Arkham game based on Batman is more like an off-brand product licensed by the real thing.

That’s not a bad thing here. I like these Batman games, I am very much looking forward to Arkham Knight, it’s just that Origins doesn’t quite feel the same. Which should be true, the developers of both Asylum and Arkham City, Rocksteady, didn’t put their hands into this. Arkham Origins was made by WB Games, who did great for the most part.

There are some things about the game that, coming from to amazing games prior, make this feels odd. Such as during combat, it is more counter heavy, some enemies need two counters, it throws my timing off. Not a big deal, and you could say it is an evolution of the combat system, making it more complex. I will argue none of those things needed to change that way, and it’s frustrating to lose a long combo just because some martial artist thugsman needed me be to press the button twice when almost every other counter needs one. And yes I know those enemies with the knife are different, but I’ve never been able to pull off that specific special take down consistently enough for me to remember.

Combat in Arkham City was fluid. You could glide in from above and smash a henchman before he knew what was up, hop over and take two of his buddies down with a couple of hand to hand strikes, then quick-fire Batman’s batclaw at a fourth dude who ran around the corner just to be grappled and drawn towards you and smashed to the ground. I’m not saying that can’t happen, just there are slight tweaks that throw me off before any of that can take place organically as it once did.

Not to mention there seems to be far less grapple points than I remember previously as well. Before it seemed like wherever you stood, or move five steps and Batman was zipping around like he was some sort of “spider” man. In the new installment, once you get up and get going, yeah it’s great. There are a lot of times when I found myself just running around trying to latch on to something and can’t. Sometimes the location of the grapple point is too specific and if you’re not aiming precisely Batman just stands there, wishing somehow he could get up to that air duct five feet above his head.

There was that one time during a fight with Killer Croc in the beginning of the game, the screen went black and all I could see was the health bars. The sound was still audible, and I won so this one-off glitch wasn’t game ending.

If you are going to play this keep in mind one of the many glitches this game has is one that corrupts your progress. It hasn’t happened to me, though I hear that part of it has to do with the Anarchy missions, which I haven’t tried yet. Just keep that in mind.

Once you get past the weirdness, which for the most part is not that bad. I like the story. Black Mask hired a group of assassins to take out The Batman. Some big names show up, Deathstroke and Bane, and some lesser known bad guys try to kill Batman, The Electricutioner and Copperhead being two. Copperhead in this case is not a guy, they made her into a lady. I think it makes things more interesting for the character. Of course that plan is not how the whole story goes down. The Joker shows up at one point, which pokes some chaos into the mix, and this is supposed to be the first meeting of Batman and The Joker.

So you have a younger Batman and The Joker. They look and sound like it as well. Roger Craig Snith and Troy Baker lend their voices to Batman and The Joker respectively, and do an excellent job. They are trying to emulate Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill to a degree, I’d like to see what they could do without that.

And the best thing in the game, that was introduced in Arkham City and expanded upon here is the investigating and detective work. There are several occasions where Batman deconstructs a crime scene going through evidence, looking at what is presented, and does actual detective work. It’s awesome, I wish there was more. Mechanically all you do as a player is look around and hold “A” at the prompt, but I like showing Batman as a detective, and that’s all you really need to do.

Should you play Arkham Origins? If you liked the previous two, then yes. If you haven’t? It’s called “Origins”, you are not going to get lost if you know Batman is Bruce Wayne. Just be wary of the of the ways this game can act up.

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Image  —  Posted: March 5, 2015 in Cover Thursday
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The Killing Joke

Posted: March 2, 2015 in Comic
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  Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s most popular oversized single issue of Batman.

The start of it has The Dark Knight going to Arkham Asylum, walking past inmates and members of his rogue’s gallery to have a heart to heart conversation with The Joker.

With the way Bruce acts, this story has to take place near the end of Batman’s era. You know the time in a relationship when one person realizes the whole thing is just a miserable unhealthy existence, so they try to be an adult and talk it over. Batman even starts out the heart to heart by saying, I’ve been thinking about us a lot lately. Of course in this case when he says that one day eventually either I’ll kill you, or you’ll kill me, sooner or later, The Caped Crusader is talking about literal murder and not just giving them a beating.

That’s partly the reason when the person sitting across the table “fnapping” playing cards amidst a game of solitaire turned out to be an impostor, Batman got real mad. Partially because an insane criminal had gotten loose, but also because that other person in the conversation he was trying to have wasn’t there.

The insane escaped criminal in question was out, buying an old dilapidated carnival as a place to carry out his

own twisted plan. Which is one of the most iconic events to happen in this book and resonate throughout other story lines. The Joker shows up at Commissioner Gordon’s home and shoots Barbara Gordon point-blank while she was opening the door, paralyzing her from the waist down. It happened so fast, that by the bottom of the page The Joker was already in Gordon’s living room telling him that his daughter was most likely never going to walk again.  I think this was done on purpose, to show how life can change in a blink.

One of my favorite things in Batman is when he gets shown as a detective. Sometimes writers won’t show Batman going through the puzzle and just skip to the end, or Robin will figure it out and Batman is two steps ahead of everyone. It is nice to see The Dark Knight go through some detecting work, in this case talking to some of the underbelly of Gotham to get leads, culminating in him driving the Batmobile up to the carnival where his arch nemesis is and trying to have that heart to heart conversation again.

The Joker, who at this point kidnapped James Gordon, and before leaving the scene at the Gordon’s home had stripped the defenseless Barbara of her clothes and taken pictures of her, just to see if he can drive her father into madness. Who The Joker had caged and naked, only to be brought out and tortured emotionally by being forced to face the pictures of Barbara. Because The Clown Prince of Crime thinks we’re all just one bad day away from turning out like him, that even the most level even headed person could be pushed to insanity.

All this is being juxtaposed by a few flashbacks of The Joker, and how he had a normal life at one point. Well, “normal” as anyone can conceive of, he has a wife and baby on the way trying to make it with his comedy act. It is not an act any of the clubs want to show, so to get money to provide for his family The Joker turns to organized crime. Things go real bad the day of the crime, both personally for The Joker and when the heist goes down. The chemical plant The Joker used to work at, and the target for his shenanigans, hired more security and Batman shows up. During the chase from the altercation, Batman helps create the green haired clown we know as The Joker. I’m not real keen on having a solid background for The Joker, but the slice we see works for the story.

In the present, we have The Joker projecting what happened to him and it is not working. James Gordon still has some sanity left when Batman arrives.

The hero arrives, he’s not diving into the fray to kick-ass. Batman enters the scene, confronting The Joker, and starts with his “we need to talk” speech. The two tussle and The Joker runs off into the carnival, but before Batman goes after him commissioner Gordon tells him to bring him in by the book, to show how ineffective his plans were.

Off Batman goes to find The Joker, with full intentions of completing the “one day one of us is going to kill the other, but let’s talk and see if we can get over that” talk. There is a bit of a battle, Batman tells his adversary what he’s thinking, how the Commissioner moments before hand told him to do things by the book, and after The Joker pulls a gun on Batman with intention ro shoot him, but it turns out to be the wrong gun, he tells one last joke, Batman starts laughing. Then the camera pulls both characters out of shot and the laughing stops.

The way Batman acts, says that one day one of us is going to kill each other, sooner or later, you could imply Batman took care of it right there and killed The Joker on the spot. I think the way batman felt he needed to have that discussion, he already made up his mind about what he was going to do, and in the flashback scene where The Joker first emerges as the clown, you can see his reflection in a puddle. At the end, there is focus on a rain puddle, but no reflection. Maybe to imply Batman caused this creature to be born, and was the reason he was taken out.

Of course you could say none of that happened, if there was an extra last page Batman just punched The Joker out because he was fed up with him  yeah, you could say that, the end does not put a definite cap on the situation. However. Having Batman take things into his own hands and stopping his greatest foe permanently is vastly more interesting than, say having the same Batman/Joker story end with the bad guy sent to be locked up, only to escape and have a never-ending repeating story.

Should you read The Killing Joke for yourself? Totally, it’s worth the read, and it’s not super long either so it won’t take that long.

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Sometimes you get a little tied up.

 

 

Alfred

Posted: February 23, 2015 in Character
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 Bruce Wayne’s longest friend, and the closest parental figure after the death of his parents, Alfred. Publicly Alfred has been the Wayne’s butler for years, but has many more jobs thanbutling when it comes to Bruce Wayne.

Sure, he is the care taker of Wayne Manor and cooks and cleans. However, when Batman comes home beat up with lacerations and bullet wounds, he can’t exactly go to the hospital. In steps in Mr. Pennyworth to play doctor and perform surgery, removing small projectiles or stitching up cat scratches. You might think that’s something way above a mere butler’s knowledge. It is, but in comics everyone has a secret origin, Alfred was/ is a secret agent. I like that, it gives his character a little more flavor what he was originally, short, overweight, and a thing for Sherlock Holmes. 

In comics there are a few ways writers use Alfred. In the Court of Owls story I just read Bruce has a contact lens linked up to the batcomputer giving him access to all the file. One of the features it has is facial recognition, giving him names of people at a party. Dick Grayson and Damien pop up with their respective names and level of member access to Batman, high. Alfred’s level shown as highest, which makes me think what Alfred has privy to and not Dick. Then there are times in something like an All-Star Batman where Bruce tells Alfred to shut up, and tells him to not feed a boy Batman leaves in the cave to fend for himself.

Television and Movies takes a more mentor and father figure in the background of most of those adaptations. The Gotham series Alfred takes a more foreground approach when it takes a look at what young Bruce is doing, because they’re showing you Alfred’s guiding hand to a young recently traumatized Bruce. And the Beware of the Batman t.v. show has Batman’s butler as more of a rough and tumble former English secret agent type, from what I’ve seen which admitting isn’t that much.

We wouldn’t have the same Batman we have today if it wasn’t for good old Mr. Pennyworth.

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Image  —  Posted: February 19, 2015 in Cover Thursday
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Master of the Future

Posted: February 16, 2015 in Comic
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  A sequel to the Victorian-era set Gotham by Gaslight Batman story sounds like a good plan. Brian Augustyn returned to write Master of the Future, although Mike Mignola didn’t return as well, Eduardo Barreto handles the turn of the century Gotham style.

Taking place a few years after the original, The Bat-Man has retired from crime fighting in the public eye. The person who killed Bruce’s parents had already been  dealt with, stopping all the petty crimes in Gotham doesn’t interest this Bat-Man.

Of course Wayne still fancy’s excitement, betting on boxing matches. Then when the match doesn’t go his way, and his friend fussed about the outcome, Bruce steps in the ring to take on a giant man. We never see the fight, just a crowd reaction then Bruce and his friend walking away talking about giving the money they won to an orphan relief fund.

it serves its purpose as an introduction to this new old style Batman, and his new companies. His friend from the boxing match Teddy, and Bruce’s love interest. A woman who was saved by Bat-Man one night.

The main plot of the book is that, Alexandre Leroi bursts into a courtroom where plans for Gotham’s entertainment are taking place. There’s a Buffalo Bill look-a-like trying to get the mayor to let him have his show in Gotham and make a few dollars. The mayor is not having any of what the man wants and shuts him down jus before the crazy french Leroi bursts through a window nine stories up declaring that he is the master of their future, a man of tomorrow, and to give him the city of Gotham and it is saved.

They mayor doesn’t give in and the big Gotham City fair will go on. Gordon is a little uneasy about not having Bat-Man around, but Bruce isn’t going to let the opportunity pass him by.

Alexandre pulls a stunt, on the mayor making finalizing the fair plans, where he sends a machine gun  on wheels covered in a circus clown mask trying to kill the mayor. Of course Bruce was there to save its intended target and take it out with one thrown pipe.

The day of the fair Leroi kidnaps the mayor as he’s getting ready and takes him up to his blimp driven by a mechano-man. The antagonist Alexandre is successful at try to destroy the fair, he set buildings on fire, and kills the mayor. However Bruce does save a few people and Alfred is there at the right moment to give him his Bat-clothes. Bat-Man does manage to save some people before going after Alexandre himself. One of the people he saves is his love interest. In the end, she figures out who Bat-Man is. Something simple like having Bruce Wayne’s girlfriend get repeatedly saved by Batman and have them not put two and two together gets old. 

Ultimately, if you like the beginning of twentieth style Batman story that was Gotham by Gaslight, Master of the Future won’t disappoint. DC’s Elseworld tales aren’t for everyone, but I like them, they tend to be different and interesting, and this book is both.

 

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Image  —  Posted: February 12, 2015 in Cover Thursday
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The Court of Owls

Posted: February 9, 2015 in Comic
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 The first volume of Batman in the New 52 era of DC comics was an awesome start. Yes, the whole restart the universe idea had a few kinks, but this is Batman, you don’t need much to get going.

The last writer/artist combo to take on The Dark Knight in the old universe is the first team to tackle a story in the new one. Author Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo did it right. After seventy-five years it’s hard to come up with an actual threat for Batman, there are several tomes on The Joker alone.

At first it seems an overrun Arkham is about to get loose and in the thick of it is The Caped Crusader battling back. At one point, looking like he teams up with The Joker to help with the rumble, even commissioner Gordon was confused. Turns out it was Dick in a future E.M.P mask that looks like something out of Mission Impossible. I don’t know what E.M.P. means, they don’t say, but it looks cool.

In the same scene the former Robin appears, Bruce tells Dick he is trying out a new contact lens that has the whole Bat-computer linked to it. Those two little bits put this whole world into the near future with better technology, but not so far off the gadgets seem like they’re that far into the future.

Anyway the story revolves around a Gotham City specific nursery rhyme about how a court of owls is always watching and not to turn or they’ll get you. It is a touch creepy, but nursery rhymes usually are if you think about them. 

It seems The Court of Owls is something Bruce looks in on, in his spare time of course, and he’s always come up empty. So when things start to look like they exist, Batman denies their existence. Until Bruce finds himself trapped in one of the Court of Owls labyrinths.

Then it gets interesting. The story does what stories do, but the art goes in a non-traditional direction. Batman spends at least a few days in a maze, after some time he starts looking  ragged. At the same time the art gets topsy turvy, you have to slowly turn the book around every page or two. I thought the whole ideas was interesting. Though I wouldn’t know how to do that with the digital version. either it would play out like a regular comic, or the auto-orientation would make the upside down pages tough to read.

This book is a good read, it does it’s fair share of interesting and does a few things that give you some new mythos in the world of Batman. You’re a Batman fan, new things are good, this is fun, you should read this.

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Image  —  Posted: February 5, 2015 in Cover Thursday
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