This week we uncover the secrets of the Arkham Knight, and hand out with Scott Lang on his Last Days!
Batman: Arkham Knight Genesis #1 (of 6) (DC Comics)
First things first, if you haven’t beaten the story mode in Arkham Knight, you should not read this comic (that should be apparent from a comic with the title Arkham Knight Genesis). I’ll do my best to not reveal the identity of the Arkham Knight in this review, but know that you WILL find out who Arkham Knight is within the first few pages if this issue, so if you haven’t played the game yet, you’ve been warned. If you have played the game, you won’t get too much new information about the Arkham Knight that you didn’t already know before, but writer Peter J Thomasi and artist Alison Borges do present an interesting spin on the character’s origin that’s really entertaining.
Yes, the Arkham Knight is someone you may already know from the Batman lore. But Thomasi’s script paints the Knight as a very formidable enemy, and this issue finds him beginning to work with Hush while also recounting his tragic back-story to fill readers in. There isn’t much else in the way of plot, as this issue it primarily more interested in introducing us to the new version of…this character, and for the most part, it kept me pretty surprised and interested. Much of that comes from Thomasi, who is no stranger to the world of the Dark Knight after a stellar run on Batman & Robin and writing the Arkham Knight prequel series. Thomasi nails the characters and tone so well that he could probably write the rest of this miniseries in his sleep.
Usually the Arkham tie-in comic books suffer from some pretty wonky art, but thankfully Alison Borges proves to be an exception to the rule. Borges’ style is pretty loose, but still stays in the tone with Arkham universe. He’s got a great sense of energy and fluidity in his panels, and like Thomasi, presents the Knight as a more formidable foe than the video game did.
I’ll be honest. I wasn’t a fan of the reveal of the Arkham Knight’s identity in Arkham Knight. But the back-story that Thomasi and Borges are building here is pretty intriguing. For folks who haven’t played the game (and don’t mind being spoiled on AK’s identity), this is definitely a solid read, and gamers who’ve already completed Arkham Knight will really enjoy this as well. In fact, I liked this issue so much that I want Thomasi to write the series that the Arkham Knight sta-whoops. Almost slipped.
Ant-Man: Last Days #1 (Marvel Comics)
Ant-Man: Last Days should really just be called Ant-Man #6. It’s not double sized, or priced extra. It’s written by Nick Spencer and drawn by Ramon Rosanas, the same creative team of Ant-Man. Hell, it even reads like the next issue of Ant-Man, except for a few references to the “Last Days” of the Marvel universe. While all of these points might make you think that I hated this issue, it’s actually the opposite, because Last Days reads as one of the best issues of the series that Spencer and Rosanas have made to date.
As a clairvoyant forecasts the “Last Days” of the Marvel Universe to the media, Scott Lang finds himself hired by his financial backer to locate a mysterious object for her. Lang retrieves it, only to discover that his elderly employer isn’t in a retirement home, she owns it, and she and the rest of the residents are retired heroes of the 1940s. The item Lang has retrieved gives them the chance to be young again for a few hours, and they all use the device to relive their glory days. It’s then that Lang’s employer reveals that she’s the clairvoyant, and that the world is really coming to an end. Scott heads out to see his daughter, but she’s not home, so naturally he goes to a nightclub, where he hooks up with a super-villain you’ll recognize from Spencer’s Superior Foes of Spider-Man.
Once again, Nick Spencer has crafted a dynamite script. Spencer’s gift for humor and heart is in full force here, as he really makes you feel for Scott Lang in all aspects of his personality. You feel bad that he won’t get to see his daughter again, but you also laugh at him heading into a nightclub to blow off some steam afterwards (and the morning after). At no point does it seem like Spencer is trying too hard to entertain you, and he even finds ways to work in some really poignant scenes, like when Ant-Man is watching the old heroes run around reliving their time as young heroes.
In terms of the art, Ramon Rosanas’ art is just as great as it has always been. Rosanas is quickly becoming an essential part to Spencer’s series, and like Superior Foes of Spider-Man’s Steve Lieber, he has a great gift for visual comedy. There are plenty of panels in this issue that will have you laughing uncontrollably that wouldn’t be the same if Rosanas’ didn’t draw them.
Thankfully, despite the “Last Days” banner on the book, this isn’t the last time we’re going to see Nick Spencer and Ramon Rosana’s names on an Ant-Man title, as the character is getting a new #1 (and a team of villains to lead) in the upcoming Ant-Man series that will be hitting after Secret Wars wraps up. Ant-Man: Last Days is a fantastic read, and pretty accessible for people who’ve recently seen Ant-Man in theaters and want to see what the character is like in the Marvel Universe. If you get this and like it, I highly recommend the trade of the first five issues, and that you snag the relaunch when it hits. Don’t let this become the next Superior Foes of Spider-Man.