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COMIC BOOK REVIEW: Batman: Arkham Unhinged Volume 1

There’s been video games based on comic books, and comic books based on games. But  Batman: Arkham Unhinged: Volume 1 from DC Comics takes the unique path of being a comic that’s based on a game that’s based on a comic. And while its tales of the Dark Knight aren’t as good as the one told in the game, or in the regular comics, the book does serve as a nice compliment to Batman: Arkham City.


In this first paperback collection — which features stories published online around the same time as the 2011 game — we find out the backstory to Catwoman’s side quest to recover her stolen stuff, why Mr. Freeze wound up in Arkham City, and other little bon mots that fans of the game probably didn’t think to ask about.

They even got Paul Dini, who wrote the first two Arkham games (but, oddly, not the upcoming third one), to pen one of these tales, along with such fellow game-related comic book talents as Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic illustrator Brian Ching and artist Mike S. Miller, who drew another game-inspired comic, Injustice: Gods Among Us.


That said, for fans of the game, Unhinged is kind of like getting DLC, in that it augments the original story, fleshing out little bits here and there, but doesn’t really work on its own. Sure, you might not have wondered how Freeze wound up with his own high-tech lab inside Arkham, and once you know, it gives those bits of the game just a little more resonance.

Though because these stories were originally presented online, many are short, and only fill in little pieces. As a result, this isn’t nearly as essential as, say, the Star Trek comics that came out around the time and after the first J.J. Abrams movie in 2009. Those books created a huge backstory and broader context for that film, one that didn’t put the movie into a different perspective or anything, but did answer some very big questions that the movie never would’ve had time to answer or even propose.


For Bat-fans who haven’t played the Arkham City game, however, Unhinged does a good job of explaining the basic premise of the game, but you won’t get the full picture or understand the implications of what you’re reading. Especially since the Arkham games, and thus these comics, are a separate universe from the regular Batman comics. But then, it might just prompt them to put down their reading glasses and pick up their gaming gloves. Which, in the end, is probably the point of this book anyway. That it tells a couple good stories as well is just an added bonus, but one we’ll take nonetheless.

SCORE: 7.5


What do you think of this comic (or my review of it)? Please let me know in the comments below.


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