Batman Arkham Knight: Genesis #6
Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Illustrated by Dexter Soy
Colored by Dave McCaig
Lettered by Deron Bennett
Cover by Stjepan Sejic
I find myself in the interesting position of reviewing the sixth installment in a six-part story, without having read the previous five. The disadvantages of this are obvious, but I try to be optimistic, and so I suggest that looking at this issue with fresh eyes will make it easier for me to evaluate it on its own merits. I have read Jay’s reviews of 1-5, though, and I’ll do my best to address how this final chapter relates to its predecessors.
Caves, carnivals, and computers
This issue is essentially a flashback framed with Jason’s infiltration of the cave (and Batman’s systems) in the present. There are some nice visuals in the Batcave, but this is also where Jason does most of his thinking, and the inner monologue is by far the weakest part of Tomasi’s script.
The flashback takes place during Arkham City, and we see that Jason has been stalking his former mentor for quite some time. In this particular case, his spying leads him into a confrontation with an old pal:
Joker psychologically torments Jason for the last time (at least in person), and the Arkham Knight is born (or at the very least, his mom goes into labor. I mean, not his actual mom, but his symbolic mom–metaphors are confusing).
A depth in the family
Jason Todd is much-maligned. In my own reading, he’s always come off as a whiny, spoiled brat who abandoned logic and nurtured a grudge against Batman, not for things Bruce did, but for those two big things he didn’t: save Jason and kill the Joker to avenge Jason’s death.
Tomasi’s reimagining of Jason’s reimagining of himself is far more sympathetic, and as a reader, I also find it far more believable. That the Joker made the Arkham Knight–not by accident, but by sustained torture and manipulation–turns Jason’s anger into something understandable. Instead of his grudge coming off as a forced explanation for the assumption of his Red Hood identity, Jason’s turn against Bruce makes sense in a way that logically justifies the Arkham Knight’s existence.
Soy and McCaig do a fine job of helping to make Tomasi’s point, whether it’s showing just how much power the Joker still has over his creation (as above), or with a moving homage to the iconic “Batman on his knees” image from A Death in the Family. Soy also nicely breaks up the grid with some big figures and extended negative space on the margins, and McCaig perfectly captures the bleakness of Jason’s situation with his (mostly) muted color palette.
- You don’t like Jason Todd, but you’re open to a change of heart.
- You enjoy well-written dialogue as much as (or more than) lots of action.
- You’ve been reading this mini-series and would like to see how it wraps up.
Overall: Even having missed out on the previous five issues, I enjoyed this. It shows no signs of the zaniness hinted at in Jay’s previous few reviews, instead getting–and staying–serious throughout. It is by no means a masterpiece, but strong characterization from Tomasi and capable visual storytelling by Soy and McCaig make for a satisfying read, well worth the $2.99 paid.