Arkham Knight: Genesis #5
Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Illustrated by Dexter Soy
Colored by Dave McCaig
Lettered by Deron Bennett
Rest in piece, pizza rat. We hardly knew ye.
That is on the very first page of this, the penultimate installment of Genesis, and if you haven’t been paying attention for the past few months or didn’t get an idea from the cover, that last panel should fill you in pretty well on what to expect.
Or, you know, this:
Even with last month’s issue feeling more like deleted scenes from issue 3 than anything else, this series has been slightly more tightly plotted and focused than the main title, but only just.
Unfortunately, that kind of goes out the window here: it’s twenty-two pages of flashback and plot that could have been condensed into a tighter two issue series, or maybe even a larger one-shot.
Fortunately, things are getting so over-the-top bonkers that it can’t be anything but intentional on Tomasi’s part, and it’s crazy enough that I’m willing to overlook the massive continuity errors and enjoy it as an exercise in insanity.
I mean, come on, the first page has Jason stepping on a rat, blood and bone exploding all over the sidewalk. You can’t convince me that Dexter Soy and Dave McCaig weren’t giggling over how silly it was while they illustrated it.
The two main plot threads follow the action in the present and two years in the past. The current story follows Jason and Deathstroke as they finalize plans for those tanks he’s fond of and the headcount of troops devoted to his cause, while the flashback recounts their first interaction. The flashback is kind of cool, as it takes place concurrently with the final battle in Arkham Asylum, but the characterization of Slade is… questionable. I know the guy has been rewritten in the past few years to be super-cool and everything, but hearing him talk about shows he’s DVRed? That’s a bit of a stretch.
Also, he has a heel-turn that’s so quick I may pursue legal action for whiplash, but whatever.
In all seriousness, despite its faults and the increasingly confusing timeframes at play, I enjoyed the issue. Taking a much more critical look at it, I’m positive I could rip it apart in the greater context of this series and the main title, but seeing as how even Arkham Knight played fast and loose with the game’s continuity, I’m just going to enjoy this as it is on its own merits.
One of the things I’ve loved about Tomasi’s approach to these series has been his deft handling of character relationships. That’s not at all the case here, but like I said, it seems to be purposefully extreme and over the top: Jason’s as whiny and morose as ever, the dialogue is hard boiled to an insane degree, and everyone acts so macho as to border on parody.
Also, as much as I like Robin, Jason lets off a pretty great line at his expense that made me laugh out loud.
And that was after he dropped him from a helicopter.
Surprisingly, the issue is bereft of much action, but what’s there is smoothly rendered and detailed by Soy and McCaig. Even when the narrative is more subdued, there’s some really nice visual storytelling.
Though Jason still comes off as a whiny little baby.
What started out as an interesting character study became a truly tragic piece on a fallen, lonely figure, and is now an overly long piece of machismo. Frankly, given the source material and how the main title ended up, I’m glad for something a little different. It may not be genuinely “good,” but it sure is fun in its ridiculousness.
- You like the Arkham games.
- You’ve been reading thus far.
- You’re not afraid to enjoy something a little dumb, a little goofy.
- You’ve come to pay respects to pizza rat.
Overall: An unnecessary chapter in an increasingly unnecessary series, taking it for what it is makes it enjoyable. Turn your brain off and let yourself laugh, because even if next month’s finale is a satisfying conclusion, it has its work cut out for it. This may no longer be the Tragedy of Jason Todd, but frankly that might be in its favor in the end.