ARKHAM CITY: THE ORDER OF THE WORLD, ISSUE #1
Writer: Dan Watters
Publisher: DC Comics
WHAT IS IT?
Arkham City: The Order of the World #1 (Arkham City #1 here on out) is a dark look at the famed asylum's inmates through the eyes of one of the few doctors who seems to care.
Arkham City #1 reads like a combination of Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on A Serious Earth, Gotham Central, and Watters/Dani's previous collaboration - Coffin Bound.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
In the aftermath of A-Day, the once filled halls and rooms of Arkham Asylum are now empty with its residents either dead or missing. Luckily, Doctor Jocasta Joy had that explosive day off. Now with the help of Gotham's "finest," she must track them down before the inmates cause serious trouble. However, it seems the residents aren't the only dangerous ones on the streets, as the citizens of Gotham share a hatred of them, going so far as to beat one supposed "Arkhamite" in the streets.
Will the Arkham Inmates make Gotham City their new Asylum, or will Dr. Joy find them in time?
Some of the characters Watters brings to the plot haven't been seen in a while, or are villains that are more malleable, so he has more of a free reign for them which he uses to his advantage.
Dani's art is always phenomenal, but the horror/darker-toned genre is one she absolutely excels at, and that shines through here. Her linework is rough in a beautiful, elegant manner that both excites and terrifies.
Stewart is a top-tier colorist who can match the mood and atmosphere of the story and art perfectly. As gruesome and dirty (in a great way) as Dani's art is, Stewart's colors help take it up a step.
Bidikar uses a different font and bubble choice for each character, which not only looks amazing and helps you get a feel for them, but makes Arkham City #1 read more realistically. I look forward to seeing everyone's font/bubble style.
Darran Robinson (@DarranMRobinson) took inspiration from A Serious House on A Serious Earth's logo for Arkham City, and it shows. Although it takes inspiration, it still sets itself apart while working with the story and looking fantastic.
Sam Wolfe Connelly's cover with the Arkham inmates gives a sense of them being the forgotten and the unloved, helping intrigue the reader while hinting at what may be inside. Hell, there is a lot to say on Connelly's fantastic cover.
Arkham City #1 is more interested in exploring these Batman villains and showing just who they truly are while trying to humanize them. This is interesting, as Watters thus far really nails the characteristics of the ones we have seen, and diving into these characters' psyches can really push the narrative further.
Although the story is connected to the current events unfolding in the Batman titles, Watters makes it so newcomers can still enjoy the story without having to worry about other series.
With only one establishing shot of Arkham Asylum, Dani is able to catch the exact atmosphere that the fabled Asylum should give you. The way she handles the framing of the towering presence makes it feel intimating and as if it was another character in the story.
Everything about Dani's art complements the story. One part that absolutely stands out is her depiction of The Ten-Eyed Man. His movements are reminiscent of a contortionist and Dani makes sure he has an impact on you.
Dani's art style is well-suited for flatter colors, which Stewart is fantastic with. Seeing as how he worked years with Mignola on Hellboy, this makes sense.
Stewart's use of just single flat colors for the backgrounds in some scenes helps emphasize the important elements of the story while keeping a simple and compelling aesthetic.
Just like Stewart's colors are able to match Dani's distinct art style, so is Bidikar's lettering, especially the sound effects. There aren't many of them, but for the sound effects there, they match the tone effortlessly.
Memorable Quote: "This equipment always stood to remind me of what were considered acceptable treatment methods only a short time ago." Dr. Joy, talking about the inhumane equipment in her office. In this scene, and in what Dr. Joy says, you get all the info on her that you need.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Although it is "Ages 13+," there are some moments and images that readers who aren't fans of the more gruesome and horror side of Gotham would not enjoy.
As someone who absolutely loves Dani's art, it sadly isn't for everyone. I've run into more than a few people who aren't fans of her fantastic style, and Arkham City #1 won't change that.
Some won't be a fan of the idea of supervillains/inmates being the main characters and focus, especially since no superhero shows up. That, and the fact it seems Watters may be trying to humanize them a little more to show that they are people that just need help. Granted, I love all of this, but can see others not finding enjoyment.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
"It's unlike any comic out there now!" seems to be a phrase that's thrown around quite a bit, but in Arkham City #1's case, it definitely fits compared to other Batman titles. I would know, as I've been pulling all of the Batman titles this past year. You can read Arkham City #1 without the knowledge of what has transpired before. Not only that, but Watters seems to be diving into interesting aspects of the world of Batman that have gone previously unexplored.
Arkham City #1 has a phenomenal creative team and it has themes that the team has handled amazingly in previous books. Pair all of that together with interesting characters you haven't seen in years and a story that avoids the tropey obvious, and you have one of the best DC Comics titles out right now.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Coffin Bound, Vol. 1,2 by Dan Watters & Dani
Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on A Serious Earth by Grant Morrison, Dave McKean, and Gaspar Saladino
Gotham by Midnight by Ray Fawkes and Ben Templesmith
If you like the art:
Batman Secret Files: Miracle Molly #1 by James Tynion IV, Dani, Lee Loughridge, and Tom Napolitano
Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb, Tim Sale, Comicraft, Richard Starkings, Gregory Wright
Sin City by Frank Miller
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Dan Watters (@DanPGWatters) – Writer
Outlander: Born and currently lives in London, England
Part of the White Noise collective with other extremely talented comics creators
Dream Team: Anytime you see Watters and Dani together you know you'll be in for an amazing experiance
Dani – Artist
Outlander: Born and raised in Athens, Greece, and studied sculpture at the Athens School of Fine Arts.
Award Winner: Took home the reader's choice award at the Greek Comics Awards in 2015 for her self published comic Tales from the Strips.
Cat Lover: She has cats and displays them prominently on her social media, which is always a positive trait.
Dave Stewart (@Dragonmnky) – Colorist
Multi Eisner Award Winning colorist
Long time collaborator in the Hellboy Universe
Originally wanted to be a penciler
Aditya Bidikar (@adityab) – Letterer
Multitalented: Co-hosts a comics podcast with fellow letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, called Letters & Lines.
Dream Team: Also worked with Dan Watters on Deep Roots and The Picture of Everything Else.
Sometimes hosts a #LettererJam event on Twitter where letters all show their different approaches to a single page of comic book art.
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