All of the best stories have source material: whether it’s the themes being explored, the tone of the story, something helped to trigger that creative spark. This is especially true with Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham franchise. Here are some (not all) of the biggest influences on the series:
- Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth by Grant Morrison
One of the best Batman stories I’ve had the pleasure of reading complemented by some interesting, fascinating visual styles. The story showcases Grant Morrison’s ability to write both a gripping, intense, dark storyline interlaced with psychoanalytical discussion of the Caped Crusader. It’s easy to see the major influence this comic had on Batman: Arkham Asylum from tone, storytelling, and pacing. Definitely worth the read, and one that comes as highly recommended for any Batman fan.
- Hush by Jeph Loeb
The comic that introduced one of the most dangerous villains to Batman, Hush does so many things right without falling into the trappings of a standard Batman comic. That’s because the focus of the villain isn’t on Batman…it’s on Bruce Wayne. It’s a story about revenge, about pushing Batman to his breaking point, and yet shows the resilience Batman has to persevere through the times. It also uses the often hinted romance between Batman and Catwoman to explore another side of him often left by the wayside. Hush may have been small in Arkham City, but something tells me he’ll have a bigger role in Arkham Knight.
- No Man’s Land by Bob Gale
A cataclysmic earthquake, gang wars, villains missing amongst the survivors who’ve stayed in the crumbling Gotham paints an already losing battle for Batman. The book is equal parts about finding strength in the eleventh hour as well as finding strength in numbers. No Man’s Land is refreshing because the initial emphasis is no longer on Batman, but on the citizens left by the US to fight for survival. When Batman does inevitably show up, and continues to fight to restore Gotham, it becomes even more fascinating to read. This is Batman both at his weakest, and at his strongest.
- The Killing Joke by Alan Moore
No other comic has come to define the Joker as well, and there’s good reason for it. Alan Moore masterfully explores the psyche of Joker, his origin, as well as the dynamic between him and Batman. Saying anything else to describe Equal parts shocking and engaging, this book is also highly recommended as a must read to any Batman fan out there.
- Batman: Knightfall by Chuck Dixon
Ever wonder what made Bane such a formidable opponent for Batman? Ever wondered if Batman has ever had a successor? Look no further than Batman: Knightfall, the comic book series showcasing Bane’s intelligence and brute strength. The comic series also introduced Batman’s only known successor Azrael (aka Jean Paul Valley). While I can’t say the writing is consistent or top notch, it certainly has a lingering influence in the Batman: Arkham series. Plus, Azrael makes a mysterious appearance in Batman: Arkham City that I believe shapes his character to be bigger in Arkham Knight.
- Batman: The Animated Series –
Ok, I know, it’s pretty apparent the Batman: Arkham games are heavily influenced by Batman: TAS. After all, the games were written by Paul Dini, one of the head writers of the hit cartoon series. There’s a reason for that too; the Animated Series was one of the most consistently strong cartoon shows I’ve seen. The writing was able to explore dark themes while still being enjoyable for kids to watch. The voice acting, characterization and art style all come together to portray Gotham in all its glory. More importantly, the show gave us Kevin Conroy (Batman) and Mark Hamill (Joker), who’ve reprised their roles in the Batman: Arkham video games.
7. The Dark Knight Trilogy – Christopher Nolan
Christopher Nolan’s vision of the Dark Knight has certainly shaped the way Superhero stories are told. Most superhero stories now try attempt to remain grounded to reality as much as possible, and have a focus on telling a gritty, dark story. The Dark Knight trilogy has also had an impact on Batman’s armor as well as his vehicles. At least it hasn’t shaped the voice acting (Christian Bale, you were great, but that voice man…)
Tell us, what do you think we missed? What are some comics you think shaped the Arkham Games?