‘Arkham’ City #1 is a wonderfully gothic affair with the characters to match. Dan Watters proves his horror credentials once more with this debut issue that is only elevated in the creep states with the artwork of Dani.
Arkham Asylum has long been one of the creepier cornerstones of the Batman universe and even in a horror tainted city like Gotham, it stands out. An asylum that has in recent months stood empty after the Joker killed many of its inmates and allowed the others to run free. And in Arkham City: The Order Of The World #1 by writer Dan Watters, artist Dani, colourist Dave Stewart and letterer Aditya Bidikar the horrors of Arkham are loose on the streets of the city. And it would seem only Arkham psychologist Dr Jocasta Joy has any sympathy for them. Like many before her she can only see the likes of the Mad Hatter, Professor Pyg and the Ratcatcher as patients needing care. Something hard for the readers to get behind when the issue is filled with a litany of dreadful and macabre act after another. Even by other Batman-related titles, this one is one of the darkest. Watters has long proven himself to something of an expert at the more gothic inspired narratives and this debut issue drips with such a chilling gothic sensibility from cover to cover.
Along for the ride is Dani, who’s Frank Miller/Sin City inspired art only accentuates the dark tone of the story with bold black lines playing against negative spaces that would work exceptionally well even without the added colour of Dave Stewart. Although, it is to Stewart’s credit that he doesn’t swamp her style. Each scene seems to be limited to a small number of colours which works well on this particular style of artwork.
Adding to the sense of horror is Bidikar’s sublime lettering, which expertly reflects the various character’s temperaments and personalities. Dr Jocasta Joy’s internal monologues are presented as notes from a notepad while the Mad Hatter’s speech resembles that of a 19th century novel.
As the issue progresses it is revealed that while the good doctor’s intentions may be noble, her methods are far more unconventional. And while I hate to side with any Gotham cop that isn’t Jim Gordon, it’s hard to see an alternative if that alternative is Dr Joy’s methodology.
An opening issue to a six-issue series that sets up an appropriate menacing, macabre tone of this series and without one sighting of Batman either. A modern horror in the making and one that will no doubt leave scars on Gotham, on Arkham and most definitely on Jocasta Joy.
Arkham City: The Order Of The World #1 is out now from DC Comics