If you already know the story of how Bruce and Talia met, be it from Batman: The Animated Series, Batman #232, frequent flashbacks during Grant Morrison’s run, etc. then you don’t really need to pick this up. Just take out the kidnapping of Robin and you have a good idea of what’s in this book. However, if you have no idea how Talia and Bruce met or your only familiarity with Talia is her appearance in The Dark Knight Rises, then by all means go buy this. It’s a well-done retelling of their star-crossed romance, but those of us who know the story by heart will find nothing new here. Nor does this prequel comic add anything of substance to the Arkham City videogame. In fact, I had forgotten about the stories connection to the video game universe completely until Wonder City was referenced in a single panel and then, of course, there was the usual final page that ends with copy telling us to go out and buy Arkham City.
The artwork by Federico Dallochio is pretty good, too. He does a fine job of recreating the video game’s designs for Talia, the League of Assassins, Ra’s Al Ghul, and others but he takes a more traditional route with the classic rogues gallery, who have a brief cameo in this story as well. I was fine with the more retro look to these characters in the flashback except for Penguin is shown with his monacle. In the Arkham universe, the Penguin never wore a monacle, but instead had a broken bottle shoved into his eye socket– damn, it’s so brutal when you actually write it out. Damn. One big mistake that really, really bugged me though was from colorist Carrie Strachan, who made Barbara Gordon a blonde! That’s a pretty huge mistake. It’s also not the first time that a female Bat-character has had their hair color done wrong in this book. In the second story arc, back when I was doing reviews of the digital releases, Vicki Vale wasn’t colored as being a blonde even though that’s her hair color in the video game. This was corrected when it came time for the print release, though. But Barbara? That’s… this book has two editors. How did nobody catch this? It’s Barbara, for cryin’ out loud. If you took a poll of the most famous redheads in comics she, Jean Grey, and Poison Ivy would be right at the top.
This was a pretty good issue, but it’s definitely not something you need to rush out and buy unless you don’t know much about Bruce and Talia’s first encounter. Derek Fridolfs did a good job of retelling that story, but it doesn’t add anything that the video game didn’t already explain and it doesn’t show die-hard Batman fans anything they haven’t seen before.