It’s that time of the week for all of you to get locked up with “So You Want To Read Comics” , our weekly feature where we take a look at a single topic and then recommend some comics for new readers, based on that topic. This week, we’re going back to the video game world; this time we’re taking a look at Batman: Arkham Asylum.
There perhaps isn’t another superhero who has had more video game adaptations than Batman has, with over 40 games explicitly about the caped crusader. That number jumps to over 50 if you include any game that features Batman. Now, the quality, style, and genre of these games has varied wildly over the years, it’s not until 2009 when we get what many consider to be the quintessential Batman experience when Rocksteady Studios surprises everyone with Batman: Arkham Asylum.
On almost every level Arkham Asylum seemed to nail the Batman experience. It had a large cast featuring both fan favorite villains and deep cuts. A claustrophobic setting that pushes the titular character through various encounters that tap into the various psychological elements that have become hallmarks of a good Batman story. The gameplay found a near perfect balance between satisfying martial arts based combat and intriguing puzzles highlighting Batman’s detective roots. The cherry on top of all this though was them bringing back Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill to reprise their roles as Batman and The Joker respectively.
Here’s a few comics that manage to capture some of these same things and don’t require a lot of previous experience with comics.
ARKHAM ASYLUM: A SERIOUS HOUSE ON SERIOUS EARTH
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Dave McKean
Publisher: DC Comics
If you’re going to recommend comics for fans of this game, might as well go with one that was name checked by the creative director of that game as a major influence. The first Batman story written by Grant Morrison, Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth takes Batman and his villains and twists them and contorts them into metaphors for mental illness in order to tell a story that forces the reader to question the idea of sanity itself. Following a similar plot as Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman is called to the asylum where the inmates have taken over and is forced through a gauntlet to restore order and save the staff from a gruesome fate. There’s a lot going on in this book and while it doesn’t look like what most people consider comics should look I should warn any potential readers though, this was written in 1989 and some of its depictions of mental illness will seem dated, if not downright offensive, so be aware of that.
BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY
Writer: Paul Dini
Artist: Derek Fridolfs
Publisher: DC Comics
Most fans of Batman: Arkham Asylum know that the follow up to that game was Batman: Arkham City. A lot of those fans though don’t know that there was a comic book series that bridged the two games. Written by another name that’s no stranger to Batman: Paul Dini, Batman: Arkham City fills in some of the story of how the events of that first game eventually brought about Arkham City. Essentially if the story and characterizations found in these games are your thing, then you’re going to want to read this story, if only for the fact you get more of what you enjoy. What’s enjoyable here is that this is a fairly good representation of what a typical Batman story is like in the mainline continuity, but without needing to have done anything other than play Batman: Arkham Asylum. It’s a nice way to transition one hobby into another without feeling like you have to jump through hoops or invest a lot of time or money.
Did these recommendations work for you? Do you have any suggestions of your own? Let us know in the comment section below. And have a good one.