Batman: Arkham Knight #11: “Scare Tactics”

Written by Peter J. Tomasi

Illustrated by Ig Guara and Viktor Bogdanovic

Inked by Julio Ferreira and Richard Friend

Colored by Andrew Dalhouse and John Rauch

Lettered by Deron Bennett

This is it.  The penultimate issue.  Will we find out how all of these dangling plots and threads tie together before the end?

Based on this, the first part of a two-part story… I don’t know.  Frankly, it seems kind of doubtful that it will end up being anything other than anticlimactic, but we’ll talk about that when the end comes.  Right now, we just have this issue here, and it delivers.

Kind of.

Picking up immediately where the previous issue left off, Batman and the rest of the team are just as confused as we are about the abrupt ending to Calendar Man’s scheme.  The opening pages have Arkham Knight listening in to a conversation that Robin and Oracle are having about the night’s events, and it has a cinematic quality to it.  He swings between skyscrapers and and makes his way to the sewers to his vehicle, and I really liked how Bogdanovic laid the pages out.  There was nice movement and the backgrounds in particular were great, with Oracle’s clocktower featuring heavily in the spreads.

Even better than that, though, is the next scene: Riddler setting up his trophies.

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I know those things didn’t just pop up by themselves, and there needed to be some sort of in-universe explanation as to the painstaking process someone must have gone through to set all those traps and trophies up, but seeing Nygma himself in a question-mark emblazoned button-up shirt, brandishing a hand drill was hilarious to me.  Just imagining him, with his genius intellect and penchant for puzzles, going through the tedium of drilling a hole just to end up dropping a screw or something cracked me up.

After Nygma tells his cronies to contact the Penguin and Harley Quinn and let them know they need to talk (hey, remember how they’re kind of involved in this book too?), it cuts to Batman delivering the kidnapped child from last issue to his parents.

In the most dangerous way possible.

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To be entirely fair, it is rear-facing.

Batman has car seats built into the Batmobile.  That’s not the crazy part.  The crazy part is that the seats (plural) are at the rear of the vehicle and not in the passenger area of the vehicle itself.  Granted, there was probably some pretty hefty plating covering the kid while he was back there, but come on, that can’t possibly pass any NHTSA tests.

From there, Batman heads back to the cave to get some well-earned rest, along with dropping hints about the Knightfall protocol that (spoilers?) is enacted upon full completion of the game.

True to Tomasi’s take on this world, there’s some truly great dialogue here, proving he has a real understanding of the mentality and psuchology of Batman.  Even more than the man himself, Tomasi gets that Batman is all about family, be it natural or surrogate, in an attempt to replace the one that he lost and drove him to pursue his crusade against crime.  No matter how appealing the idea of loner Batman is in some ways, it’s difficult to argue that he doesn’t desire the company of others and truly love those he’s devoted himself to protect.

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Jason, meanwhile, checks up on Scarecrow, who is working on a stronger, more potent formula for his fear toxin.   Other than a mutual desire to bring down Batman, it’s still kind of unclear why these two are working together, but no matter; there have been team-ups that make less sense before.

The art flip-flops between Bogdanovic and Ig Guara like it has for the past few months, and while I tend to favor the former’s slightly cleaner style, Guara is no slouch and has a few nice moments here.  There’s very little action at all this issue, favoring a more dialogue-heavy approach, but Crane’s test subjects for his new formula are genuinely frightening.

My favorite visual came from Bogdanovic, though, who calls back to one of The Animated Series’ most unique, striking visuals: airships.

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Well, blimps at least, but if you’ve played as much Final Fantasy as I have you tend to call them that.

The wheels keep spinning, as they have in the past, but at least there seems to be a bit of traction: Bruce meets Simon Stagg on the blimp, which calls back to the events in issue #9; Bane is brought back into the fold to bring both the fear toxin and Titan formula stories full-circle; and as stated before, Bruce has begun contemplating his mortality and the inevitability of a Gotham without Batman.

If you’ve played the game, these threads no doubt already have their own conclusions already, but for everyone else this book is powering on to its conclusion.  Hopefully Tomasi can maintain the mostly steady hold he’s had since the beginning and make it satisfying.

Recommended if:

  • You love the Arkham games.
  • You like genuinely great dialogue and a solid grasp on what makes Batman most appealing.
  • You like a bit of a horror element in your superhero books.
  • Airships, man.

Not recommended if:

  • You fear for the safety of young children in moving vehicles.
  • Seriously, that was so dumb.
  • I mean, the Batmobile does have a passenger seat…

Overall: Dialogue-heavy and lacking in action, but that’s ok; when the dialogue is as good as it is here, that’s more than forgivable.  Hopefully the final chapter of this book and Genesis will provide all the answers that we want and make the plot make sense, but it’s impossible to tell if that will happen just yet.  What we have this month, in this issue, is a true conclusion to a lackluster earlier arc, big ideas about the future of Batman in this universe, and great lines from beloved members of the Batfamily.

SCORE: 7.5/10