Friday, December 2, 2011

Triptych: Holy Haberdashery, Batman!

"Pixel Bat Family" by Ganando Enemigos

"Code Red At The Asylum" (t-shirt) by Glen Brogan

"Mr. Bat and Friends" by Seven Hundred

So I started playing Batman: Arkham City yesterday and good god, is it amazing. Arkham Asylum was easily my favourite game of 2009, and Arkham City is a return to form in every conceivable way - the introductory sequence, playing as an incarcerated, shackled Bruce Wayne fighting against The Penguin's goons, is such a clever way of opening a Batman game, and so well done, I'm actually tempted to go back and play through it again, just for the hell of it.

A lot of the time, when I start a game, I find that it takes a while for me to get into it. This was the case with Dead Rising, Left 4 Dead, Mass Effect 2... But not so with Arkham City, which fills me with that sense of anticipation that I used to get as a kid when I got a cool new Nintendo game and couldn't wait to get home from school to play more of it. Arkham City, like Arkham Asylum before it, is just so well-designed, I can't wait to sink my teeth into it and start tracking down Riddler's puzzles and unlocking extras and exploring the city. I was so convinced that Arkham City would be my new favourite game that I went out and bought a new wireless gamepad for my PC, something I've been meaning to get around to doing for ages. You know the whole "Skyrim Widow" phenomenon? My girlfriend is going to end up being an Arkham City Widow. Which has a much cooler ring to it, in my opinion, though she remains unconvinced.

Anyway. I think the enduring popularity of Batman has a lot to do with both his Rogues Gallery and the extended Bat-Family. While I'm a pretty dedicated comic book fan, my tastes tend to run more towards independent, non-superhero books most of the time. Batman is just about the only mainstream superhero comic I read with any regularity. Grant Morrison's recent run on "Batman & Robin" - in which former Robin Dick Grayson steps up as Batman, and Bruce Wayne's son Damien takes over as Robin - is one of the most amazing things done with Batman in recent years, not only because it's genuinely psychedelic, manic and bizarre, but because of how it treats both Batman's allies and his foes. Professor Pyg and his Circus of the Strange take the demented psychopathy of the Joker and Mad Hatter and crank it up to a truly disturbing notch, while left-for-dead former Robin Jason Todd makes an appearance as gun-toting vigilante Red Hood. I don't anticipate either of these villains popping up in Arkham City, since they're kind of more Dick-Grayson Batman villains than Bruce-Wayne Batman ones, but they definitely stand their own against the current crop (and are definitely more effective bad guys than, say, Maxie Zeus or Calendar Man).

So in honour of all this - both starting to play Arkham City, and my ongoing obsession with Batman in general - I give you a Batman-themed triptych.

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