Batman: Arkham Unhinged #13 review

Issue #13 collects material that’s actually quite old and was likely postponed a good long while from going to print because of one panel in particular. The very week that this story went online as a digital-first comic it coincided with the release of The Dark Knight Rises and, regrettably, the Aurora, Colorado massacre (and MAN do I hate hearing the coward behind that atrocity referred to by name or as something as ridiculous as “The Dark Knight Killer” in news reports. He should have gone nameless and faceless). In this story there’s a single shot of Black Mask gunning people down in a movie theater. It’s perhaps not as startling to see it now as it would have been back in July, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

As for the comic itself, issue #13 is one of the best examples of the kind of story that Arkham Unhinged should have been telling all along. It’s a prequel comic after all and there were numerous plot points from the video game Arkham City that could be developed further yet we’ve seen very little from these 13 issues. “Eviction Notice”, however, digs into the most fertile ground of all: Black Mask. Here is a character alluded to with some frequency in the Arkham City video game but whom we never actually saw much from. If you were watching closely in the opening scenes of the game you would’ve spotted Black Mask on the ground being beaten and there were wanted posters with his face on them and the debris from his earlier escape which was alluded to a number of times and, lastly, he showed up as a final boss in the side-scrolling DLC train match (a Riddler’s Revenge mini-game). In that he didn’t really have any lines and was no more than another thug.

Still it felt like there would be big plans for Black Mask in meatier DLC that never came to be or perhaps a sequel (now a prequel and Black Mask will indeed be in that). Learning who Black Mask is and how he escaped makes for a nice prequel story, however, like his boss-battle counterpart, the Black Mask portrayed in this comic by Fridolfs and Eric Nguyen is just another thug. He’s not a very compelling villain at all and that’s where the book fails. The artwork does a fantastic job of capturing the look and feel of the Arkhamverse and is one of the better looking issues all around. But the story of how Black Mask came to be and his personality is really boring. He’s simply not a memorable character, a threatening villain, or a captivating character whose actions hold interest.

Had Black Mask been given more personality then this would’ve been the best issue yet. Everything surrounding him is great and a wonderful way to support the existing story of Arkham City. But Sionis simply isn’t any fun to watch. Good art, good addition to the Arkhamverse, poor main character.

SCORE: 6.5/10