batwatch's Batman: Arkham Unhinged #52 - Welcome to the Slough of Despond, Part 9 review

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Arkham Unhinged #52

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Welcome to the Slough of Despond

I hate to admit it, but Arkham Unhinged has been wowing me with its last few issues. Considering the drivel it produced when I first started reading back in August, that is quite a step up. The praise goes to Karen Traviss who has managed to mold a good story out of the poorly crafted narrative of Arkham City. She has tried, with only slight success, to patch up the plot holes from the game. Where she has succeeded is in creating a cunning new enemy for the Dark Knight to face and demonstrating the political and sociological impact of Arkham City. Still, even Traviss’ run has been inconsistent depending on where she focuses each leg of the story. Is Arkham Unhinged #52 a testament to Traviss’ skills as a writer, or is this one story best swept under the rug?

In this issue, reporter Vicki Vale hammers Mayor Sharp for his work on Arkham City, and ahe talks to Bruce Wayne about his opinions of the new penal institution.

The Endless Quest

In the digital format, most comics are very brief wrapping up within at least a few issues as is the case with Legends of the Dark Knight. If the series do not conclude in the strictest sense, they at least give some sense of relief from the dramatic tension with every few issues as is the case with Ame-Comi Girls and Batman Beyond. However, this story arc seems completely content to allow the tension to build indefinitely. The problems of Gotham have only become worse for over seven issues now and there is no end in sight. Civilian concerns over Arkham City continue to mount, citizens continue to be arrested for protesting, the mayor continues to be oblivious, crimes continues to escalate, public and corporate sectors continue to feel the heat, the Bookbinder continues to wreak havoc, and there continues to be no indication that Batman is getting closer to apprehending the villain.

Despite the never ending tension, I am enjoying this arc. The story seems to be telling us the identity of the Bookbinder at this point, and it seems as if he will probably have an interesting motivation when all is revealed. His slow, plodding yet unstoppable mayhem is quite fun, and I am curious how Batman will manage to catch him.

The Irritant

I still cannot get over the idea that protestors are being locked up and nobody is treating this as a serious violation of civil rights. Vicki Vale asks Bruce about his opinion of protesters being locked in Arkham City in this issue, and he replies that, “Arkham City is for maximum security prisoners.” Oh, so you would be okay if people were locked up for using their free speech in a minimum security prison? You just feel maximum is too much? Thanks for that ringing endorsement of freedom Batman.

This flaw in the story is more due to the writers of Arkham City than Traviss’ writing, but I really wish she would have found a way to work around the stupidity of the game.

Conclusion 9/10

Arkham Unhinged continues to impress me with its more recent issues. Hopefully, this story will finish strong.

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