THIS WEEK: Arkham City: The Order of the World #4 and Detective Comics #1047 take different looks at the mental health struggles of Gotham City.
Note: the reviews below contain spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdicts.
Arkham City: The Order of the World #4
Writers: Dan Watters
Colors: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Cover: Sam Wolfe Connelly
Before I get into the bigger release of the week, I wanted to touch on how Arkham City: The Order of the World compliments the themes that get examined in the weekly Detective Comics arc that also started this week.
Arkham City has been all about the systematic failures of Arkham Asylum and the damage that those have done to the city over time, leaving an entire city struggling with mental health.
With the collapse of the Asylum, you have various Batman rogues loose in the city, and not your more deadly ones like Two-Face and Joker, but ones that are more seriously in need of the help that a stable environment (or as stable as Arkham Asylum could be anyway), provided. The resulting instability has dire ramifications as patients like Dr. Sartorius (Dr. Phosphorus) and Natalia Knight (Nocturna) try to reacclimate to society without a support net, and those results are disastrous, both for them and for the people around them. As bad as it was, at least Arkham Asylum had a support system.
Arkham City has been a wonderfully intriguing story, coupled with incredible art from Dani that just has the feel of gritty noir that made Tim Sale drawn Batman books so popular. While I’m not a huge fan of Azrael, this book has quietly become one of my favorites every month.
Detective Comics #1047
Writers: Mariko Tamaki and Matthew Rosenberg
Artists: Ivan Reis, Danny Miki and Fernando Blanco
Colors: Brad Anderson and Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Ariana Maher and Rob Leigh
Cover: Irvin Rodriguez
If Arkham City looked at the systemic failures of Arkham Asylum, the two stories in this week’s Detective Comics #1047 looked at them from two different angles. The first, in Tamaki and Reis’s main story, is how hard it is to rebuild structure after a collapse of the magnitude of the one the city saw during A-Day.
And what we see is a very optimistic beginning, though not without ominous overtones. Arkham Tower is an Arkham more focused on treatment than on isolation, and in a vacuum, this is a good thing. Many of the individuals in Arkham could benefit greatly from such methodology. But, this being a comic book, things can’t be that easy. If you treat the Arkham patients to a point where they are able to live and thrive beyond their disorders? There’s no more conflict and it makes a boring story, so of course, that’s not what will happen here.
Indeed, within three weeks, everything at Arkham Tower has fallen apart and its up to the members of the Bat-family on the inside to figure out exactly what has gone wrong and how they can help. It’s a great setup for the weekly event, and honestly, a Detective Comics event that doesn’t have Batman is a bold and interesting choice that I’m excited to see where it goes.
The backup story also looks at the failures of mental health care in Gotham, but this time, it’s what happens to victims of the terrible brands of crime that impact the city, resulting in a child being taken to Arkham after his parents were murdered by the Joker. Just horrifying systematic failure that might feed right into Twitter discourse.
- When it was announced, I wasn’t super sold on Crush & Lobo but it became a surprise favorite for me. I didn’t really love the character in Teen Titans, but Tamaki really took hold of the character and told a messy and fun story of queer self-discovery. Queer characters don’t need to be clean and unproblematic, and no series has illustrated that better than Crush & Lobo.
- However, I’m still not 100% in on One-Star Squadron. I can see what it’s trying to do, but some of the characterizations just don’t feel right to me. It’s a shame because Steve Lieber’s comedic timing is still unbeatable. I hope the rest of the series makes better use of it.
- On the other hand, World of Krypton is still exactly my jam. A political intrigue story set on Krypton is just an incredible idea, and I’m excited to see where the rest of the series leads.
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