Arkham City: The Order of the World #1 – Dan Watters, Writer; Dani, Artist; Dave Stewart, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Ray: The creative team of Dan Watters and Dani are well-known—some might say notorious—for their hard-boiled horror comics and grotesque and inventive body horror. Their Image work has been an acquired taste, and so it was a little unusual to see them on a DC book. But if there’s any DC book that’s a good fit for this kind of style, it’s a book set deep in the realm of Gotham’s most disturbed citizens. Ever since Arkham Asylum fell victim to the Joker toxin, most of its inmates died or were sent to Blackgate—but not all of them. Many are still in the wild, and Gotham’s law enforcement is on their trail. So is Doctor Jocasta Joy, a new character dedicated to her patients—even if they’re deranged maniacs acting out their twisted compulsions in the wild. Dani’s art makes these characters, including more obscure ones like the Ten-Eyed Man, Doctor Phosphorus, and Professor Pyg, look more like twisted spectres than the mentally ill.
Batman books have often abutted on horror, with some of his villains being genuinely disturbing. But Batman is nowhere in sight this issue, and that lets the villains take the lead. It asks a very interesting question—what do Gotham’s psychopaths do when no one is really looking for them? The issue opens with a genuinely harrowing segment involving Ratcatcher hiding under a little girl’s bed, and Mad Hatter gets his own horrible moment in the spotlight. But really, this issue’s most important character is Dr. Joy, first coming off as a dedicated psychiatrist and then as something else entirely. The final reveal takes this series into new territory, making it feel sort of similar to another classic in the crime/horror genre. Arkham has been a mainstay of Gotham for a long time, but it’s never really been asked—it’s a bad system, but what happens when it collapses? This team seems ideally positioned to answer that.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.