Batman: Arkham Knight #4– “Need For Speed/Roadkill”
Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Illustrated by Robson Rocha and Viktor Bogdanovic
Inks by Guillermo Ortego and Art Thibert
Colored by Kelsey and John Rauch
Letters by Travis Lanham

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why this is packaged as two separate stories. “Need for Speed” flows directly into “Roadkill” so well that I wouldn’t have noticed they were billed separately had I not checked. If “The Last Will and Testament of the Joker” can be a three part arc with such disparate parts, why couldn’t this as well?

I digress. This issue is so full of energy and so fun that such silly complaints as above are about the only things I can find wrong with it.

We open with Bruce and Lucius Fox, recovering from his hospital stay and outfitted with “the best finger replacement that Wayne Medical could buy,” heading to Germany for a business deal.

Rather, it’s Fox and Batman who will be seen in public, collaborating with an automobile designer who is creating a new Batmobile. There’s some fun dialogue in here, with jesting about Fox stealing Wayne’s money from under his nose to fund Batman’s endeavors, and it works twofold: there’s a bit of Batman Incorporated in there, and it plays up the public persona of Bruce Wayne being an aloof, oblivious doofus.

Plus we get to see Batman scare the crap out of a guy in German, which is something I’m confident in assuming we’ve all wanted to see.

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The rest of “Need for Speed” deals with the Penguin and the Abramovici twins. To be fair, this plot has kind of dragged and feels more like an obligation rather than a compelling narrative, but when they return they’re presented as a message from Scarecrow, and it’s kind of frightening.

Spoiler
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They’ve been stitched back together, which is bad enough, and Sickle has the straw shoved in his mouth which adds insult to injury.  Granted, he probably could have spit it out at any time before they reached the Penguin, but it still makes for a properly unsettling visual.

Robson Rocha’s style is pretty different from Viktor Bogdanovic’s, and I mean that respectfully for both artists. His character models are a bit more photorealistic than Bogdanovic, who reminds me of Greg Capullo in some ways, and his action scenes are kinetic and full of energy.

Like Bogdanovic’s.

So, yeah, I guess that’s the same. Either way, his art is different, but still solid and a good fit.

“Roadkill,” the second part of the issue, is a little more weird than the opening, and that’s ok. Harley Quinn, after a week of trying, still can’t log into the tablet she stole from Lucius, even with his thumbprint identification. Cobblepot, however, managed to pull a time and location from the code before the system corrected itself, so he calls upon the Tweedle cousins.

Tough times with the Abramovici brothers incapacitated, you see.

Before we get to the action set piece that made me absolutely love this issue, there’s a scene that’s significant for two reasons. First, we get to meet King Shark’s kid, Kid Shark, and he’s as absolutely ludicrous as you’d think:

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Thankfully, Tomasi doesn’t even take him seriously, and he’s quickly disposed of.

Tomasi does, however, take true characterization seriously, and this interaction between Batman and Commissioner Gordon is gold:

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That reads like real conversation between old friends, not just dialogue on a page. As fun as he has with the more ridiculous concepts like the aforementioned Kid Shark, Tomasi really gets how these core characters have known each other for so long and how they relate to one another. They have a rapport, they have inside jokes with one another, they have different ways of interacting with each other. If nothing else it’s just fun reading the dialogue in this series.

Thankfully, the action is also rock solid, and nowhere is it more clear than when this issue pretty much becomes a heist movie.

Tweedles Dum and Dee intercept a shipment en route to the Breyfogle Shipping and Receiving yards. As a side-note, that name brought a huge smile to my face, especially given recent events.

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The “place names as nod to creators” trope is usually worth a chuckle at best, but this was a welcome surprise.

Batman, being Batman, ambushes their helicopter to take back what they’ve stolen, when he in turn is ambushed by a new Tweedle: Tweedle Die.

Ok, I'll admit that's pretty rough.
Ok, I’ll admit that’s… pretty rough.

The fight atop the shipping container is absolutely insane in the best possible way, and it ends with the new Batmobile being driven out of said container and unto a rooftop. It’s like something out of a Fast & Furious movie, but only the good ones.

Sicknasty.
Sicknasty

On the whole, the actual story with the titular Arkham Knight has been pretty slow going, and only a few pages are devoted to it here. Whether his story is being saved for future issues, his upcoming origin series, or the game itself has yet to be seen, but it’s gotten to a point where I almost forget about the character until he shows up.

Regardless, despite a few minor nitpicks, this is yet another fun entry in one of the most surprisingly excellent new series this year.

Recommended if:

  • You love the Arkham game series.
  • You like great dialogue and crazy action.
  • As decent as it’s been, you need a break from Convergence.
  • Seriously, Batman drives the Batmobile out of an airborne freight container and lands it on a roof.  That’s amazing.

Overall: Another incredibly solid, exciting entry in one of this year’s biggest surprises.  While time will tell how necessary this book truly is, the fun art and spot-on characterization more than makes it worth a read.

SCORE: 9/10