I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of Batman, I’m more of a casual user. Not much interest in the character itself or in superhero comics generally, but some aspects appeal to me. I enjoy stories that deconstruct his character a bit, or that use appropriate villains to explore and highlight the, let’s face it, inherent problems with the concept of a man dressing up like a bat and beating up street-level criminals. And if the concept of Batman himself doesn’t have inherent problems, then the notion that everyone takes Batman seriously certainly does.
I’d say everyone in the world has at least baseline knowledge of Batman, since he is so ubiquitous in popular culture. You’d be hard pressed to find someone in any slightly civilised nation who couldn’t tell you that Batman is a dude who fights crime. Your level of Batman knowledge can then usually be measured by what Batman villains you can name. Bottom tier familiarity can name the really popular ones: Joker, Penguin, Catwoman, Riddler, Two-Face. Basically the major ones that appeared in films. Up one tier and you’re on lads like Scarecrow, Mad Hatter, Bane, Poison Ivy, and so on. I don’t know what the hell tier Copperhead would be on. Probably high enough to keep a lookout for radical internet feminists wanting to argue about costume design.
My point is, while I can understand the desire to keep things original with new villains for each Arkham game, there is a reason why a clutch of Batman’s villains are a lot better known than others: because they’re good characters that work well as a foil to the hero. Arkham Origins seems to realise that perfectly well with the ‘your enemies will define you’ line, and by its exploration of the Joker’s origin. But then most of the game is spent handling lesser-known timewasters like Firefly or Deadshot or Black Mask, a pitiful parade of generic gimmick thugs, assassins and gang leaders who have no particular chemistry with the Dark Knight whatsoever.
Using those guys feels like trying to be different for the sake of being different, and even if you are convinced of the need for fresh faces, the whole prequel thing undermines that. We could’ve brought back all the really effective villains in their early days, exploring their formative years and how they became part of Batman’s punch-harem. That would’ve been fresh enough.
The new-villains policy is one that’s going to have to be dropped if the series intends to go on, because the only ones left at this point who haven’t had an appearance are the total embarrassments. I’m on Wikipedia as I write this, on the ‘List of Batman adversaries’ page, and specifically looking over the ‘Foes of lesser renown’ section. It really is a sad bunch. It’s like staring into a 60-year abyss of comic book writers desperately looking around their offices for gimmick inspiration. Still, I’ve got a few suggestions for some of these dudes I’d like to see if Warner Bros plans to churn another of these games out. They’ll probably have to be grittified a bit, as seems to be usual Arkhamverse policy, so I’ll make some suggestions there, too.
This bloke leaped out at me because it bugs me that he didn’t think to call himself ‘Doctor Crime’ instead. Although his ‘thing’ is that he’s doctor first and crime second, requiring him to immediately interrupt his crimes if someone’s health is endangered. So this is a villain who you can defeat by getting your cape caught in the door, tripping and cracking your head open on the brickwork.
Mandatory Arkhamverse Grittification:
A mad doctor in blood-splattered scrubs would fit fairly easily into the Arkhamverse, and the presence of Crime Doctor could explain why every criminal Batman beats to a pulp seems to be back on the street within minutes. Except he probably uses really gritty and weird things for his medical supplies, like six-inch nails instead of splints, and instead of bandages, strips of paper with swear words written on them.
See, here’s Silver Age comics writing at its finest, people. We need an idea for a new Batman villain, one that continues the tradition of holding up a dark mirror to our brooding hero. Hey, look what happens when you shift the first letter in ‘Batman’ one space over in the alphabet. So of course this uncreative fuck dresses exactly like Batman with different colours and cat emblems and uses tools with ‘cat’ in the name. Good thing he picked Batman for his adversary, ‘cos if he’d picked The Flash he’d be called ‘The Clash’ and his gimmick would be based around 1970’s first-wave British punk music.
Mandatory Arkhamverse Grittification:
I may have been beaten to the punch on this one, because apparently Catman in comic continuity these days is a gritty anti-hero mercenary type. This is the fate of all goofy Silver Age cuddly gimmick villains who survive to the present day and don’t just become psychotic murderers. Although in an Arkham game he would probably have to lose the cat-themed footie pyjamas in favour of maybe a tiger skin cloak with the head for his mask, and a pair of fuzzy lion slippers. With angry faces.
Almost certainly the product of a writer close to deadline, lying awake at night trying to think and eventually looking down at their bedding, Crazy Quilt is a dude who wears a really colourful outfit, in stark contrast to Batman’s eternally dowdy ensemble. Christ knows how the Joker ever won the role of arch-nemesis over this guy. He’s obsessed with committing colour-themed crimes and his only superpower is wonky vision, apparently. Actually, like all Batman villains, his real superpower is being a nutter. I think the Gotham Care In The Community program involves being given a themed weapon and a team of henchmen in co-ordinated outfits.
Mandatory Arkhamverse Grittification
In the Arkhamverse, Crazy Quilt will have mastery over every single colour that exists, which is to say, dingy brown, dingy blue and dingy green. Also, he’ll have stitched patches into the flesh of his torso for no apparent reason. His secret weapon is to reveal his secret patch that is coloured a clean, vibrant pink that isn’t the slightest bit dingy, and which will consequently blind everyone in the room.
Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn’t talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games. His personal site is www.fullyramblomatic.com.