By Gerry Duggan, Shawn Crystal & Dave McCaig
When it comes to Batman, there are two important locations in Gotham that have opposite significance to the Dark Knight. Wayne Manor, the place where Bruce Wayne was raised by his parents and later home to the Batcave. Then you have Arkham Asylum, a constant reminder of Batman’s failures and weaknesses. Arkham Manor combines these two by having Wayne Manor converted to a prison after Arkham Asylum was destroyed.
Using this opportunity to keep s close eye on his foes, Bruce Wayne has entered the Asylum disguised as a criminal named Jack Shaw. Gerry Duggan had his hands full in the previous debut issue setting up a lot of Arkham Manor‘s concept. With this second issue though, Duggan gets into the core of his story, with murders appearing in the new prison. Duggan keeps readers on their toes with plenty of mysterious intrigue and a possible new character that made this issue so captivating. Where is Victor Zsasz? Who was that with the night vision goggles? What’s up with the wheelchair guy? All of these questions make you want to read more Arkham Manor.
Right off the bat, it’s obvious that a big draw to Arkham Manor is Shawn Crystal’s art. He has this balance of being both clean and dirty looking on the page. It’s a very compelling style that is slightly similar to say Sean Murphy. It definitely enhances the dark feeling you would expect from a large mansion turned into a mental institute. This can be said for Dave McCaig’s coloring in Arkham Manor. He uses his palette to heighten the looming vibe that intensifies the readers’ experience. There wasn’t any huge gigantic splash pages in this issue but that wasn’t what made the art so wonderful. It’s how well this issue read from front to back, the arrangement of panels made the whole thing read smoothly.
Arkham Manor is starting to take shape into a great series. You can see the creators working and setting up for a great mystery story. Batman is a character who has suffered from overexposure so it makes it difficult to tell a Batman story with a fresh take. That’s another reason Arkham Manor is so enjoyable to read. It feels unique, like being able to scratch an itch that readers may not have knew they had.