If there is something that can captivate my senses and make me bow down for lifelong, it is undoubtedly Batman. When I was maybe 5-6 years old, I was officially introduced to Batman, with Tim Burton’s Batman Returns and eventually following up the saga with the comic book series and the Cartoon Network animated series. To me, Batman is the very definition of a humane superhero, who is outmatched and outnumbered at times by villains who have an equally compelling story to prove their villainy. They are not some inter galactic monsters eating up planets or born with superhuman strength, each one of them has a history from where they have risen. Batman may have initially brought me to his legacy, but it would be the villains and the confrontations that have made me stay.
This was before 2009, with Nolan’s Dark Knight entering the fray and of course Arkham Asylum opening its doors to an era of mysteries and crime, Batman reached that hero stage that is untouchable at the moment. We have seen Man Of Steel trying every bit to share the same limelight, but he’s the goddamn Batman and these are his goddamn enemies that have shaped the history, Clark. The Arkham Game Series is the Dark Knight Trilogy to the gaming generation, I have never played nor expect to play, something as dark, mysterious and enchanting on my console as this. This year, as we’ve seen in the E3, the Knight returns; he starts from the moment he put on the cape and rode the mobile. Prepare to get excited all the more. The birth of the vigilante is blended seamlessly by the introduction of some of the most feared criminals in Gotham/Arkham City, and this article tries to take you skin deep into each one of them:
The Black Mask
Looks like Bruce Wayne wasn’t the only billionaire son growing up in Gotham City, enter Roman Sionis. Born to wealthy Mr. and Mrs. Sionis, Roman was always looked down upon by his parents and was always compared to Bruce Wayne when he was a kid. His parents were hungry for more social power and respect, which could outrun the Waynes. Roman fell on his head as a kid, was bitten by a raccoon, and his impetus obsessed parents did it all to hide it safely from the world. When Roman grew up, he fell in love with his secretary at the family cosmetics industry, which of course his high classed parents didn’t allow. Engulfed in rage, Roman burnt down the entire house, along with his parents. He soon inherited the cosmetics industry, but due to some horrible production, the cosmetics soon was considered as harmful, because it would deform the faces of the women who would use it. The CEO was sacked, the secretary turned lover broke up with Roman, and to add to the misery the industry was sold to Wayne Enterprises, now headed by Bruce Wayne.
Grown out of sheer anger and hatred towards Bruce Wayne and how his parents treated him for mere social recognition, the Black Mask was born while Roman paid a visit to his parents’ graves and was met by a lightning bolt. Roman now symbolized himself with the Black Mask that he wore, a face piece from his father’s gravestone, personifying the black sheath that his parents would make him put to fit into the society. In no time, he was the biggest Crime Lord of Gotham City. His group of thugs were named the False Face Society. And like it is in the trailers of Arkham Origins, The Black Mask would hire assassins from time to time, to either kill Batman or Bruce Wayne. Prepare to get dazzled, as one of the most threatening villains from the comic and animated series returns to one of the most anticipated games of the year. Black Mask is similar in style and history to Harvey Dent, but unlike Dent, his hatred towards the city and its men of power is unfathomable. Voiced by Brian Bloom, the voice of the Zodiac in the film Zodiac, the Black Mask will hire 8 assassins in Arkham Origins to hunt down the city’s finest for a Christmas Feast.
You may know him from Injustice: Gods Among Us, but trust me, the master assassin is much more than your perceptions. Slade Wilson was a part of the US Army that brought justice to the troubled borders of Vietnam. His efficiency with weaponry and fighting styles brought him a wife, Captain Adeline Kane of the regiment. When the war grew fiercer, Slade had to undergo a physical transformation, he was mutated into a supersoldier with inhumane strength. Coupled with his intelligence, Slade became the greatest of his tribe, a sheer Lieutenant. A criminal kidnapped his son in the meantime, threatened to kill him if he doesn’t carry out a small task – assassinate a target. He was personally against this, so he decided to go the other way round; killing the criminal and his thugs. There were suffering on both sides, as his son’s throat was partially slit, leaving him mute for the rest of his life. Slade’s wife drew a gun and almost killed him for bringing this to their son. He lost an eye, a reminder of the false pretence that he was drew into believing. He accepted that he couldn’t accept once, assassinations, soon he was forged into Deathstroke. Deathstroke means the one whose record of kills is too vast for you to pen down.
You can let go of your infatuations with Ezio, 47 and Corvo for a while, because Deathstroke provides you the blink of a shadow killer, equipped with the power of a hundred guns and blades. Deathstroke challenged Batman on a numerous occasions in the past, and the developers have cautiously opted for him knowing Black Mask’s relationship with the goons of the world. Do not ever think that Deathstroke will be just another mercenary sent by a bigger villain like in all other stories, Deathstroke is too hot for Batman already. Arkham Origins is set to release with Deathstroke as a playable character, just like it was with The Joker and Catwoman/Nightwing/Robin in the previous editions. Deathstroke is also called as the Terminator.
Deadshot, known far and wide for his one big feat, he never missed a single target; is now out to hunt the Batman as one of Black Mask’s hired guns. He is a part of the Suicide Squad as popularized in the later editions of Batman/New 52, and is actually portrayed to be a young boy killing for fun. Deadshot once wanted to waste Joker’s life, and he’s an agent of isolation, he loves to work alone, sniping from a rooftop. He has already appeared in some of the episodes of Smallville and now recently on Arrow, with different manifestations obviously. He was also one of those side quests in Arkham City, just before you revisit the Steel Mill.
If someone owns the Gotham rooftops more than Batman, it will for sure be Deadshot. He has those stealth motives in every assassination, and as far as my imaginations go, as Batman you will need to watch for every terrace and rooftop before even thinking into venturing out in the open. The gameplay video that shows the Crusader investigating a downed helicopter reeks so much of Deadshot. I seriously do not know how to face the most accurate assassin in the world.
Born as an outcast, Oswald Cobblepot is perhaps the oldest and the most memorable of all Batman villains. His shrewd political motives, coupled with his animalistic traits make him one of the deadliest in town, even though he is not exactly a physical threat. He runs a one-man show with his group of thugs that he jokingly calls as his winter circus troupe. The Penguin has put one of the most iconic performances by an anti hero in the Longest Halloween and according to me, nothing is as scary as a frosty Christmas evening and the Penguin gang owning your peace of mind. We may have faced him in the museum in Arkham City, but beware of The Penguin, he can just snatch the centre stage from Black Mask any given time.
We haven’t yet caught a glimpse of the Penguin in Arkham Origins so it will be hard to tell how important he is to the new game. But my instincts tell me to watch out for this shrewd politician, especially since the winters have taken over city. Although the Penguin was not given his due antihero gravity in Arkham City, but I wouldn’t mind if Arkham Origins brings a Penguin that have single handedly dominated the famous comic book Batman: Earth One.
The etymology of this monster’s name is in the proverb ‘The Bane of Justice’, the destruction of anything with a violent outcry. Casted into one of the unbreakable cells of the Pena Dura prison just because his father was an extremist, Bane is an example of a monster made by the society. He was ridiculed, raped and shaped by the struggles that he had to undergo as a child. He taught himself languages, strategies and combat skills, and in no time he started fighting off the older criminals inside the Pena Dura. His only friend was a teddy bear whom he held close. Bane was the first person/child to successfully escape the most secure prison in the universe, only to be caught soon after and to be treated with toxic experiments. Think you know the rest….
Bane and Black Mask doesn’t share a good relationship in the Batman legacy, thanks to their common motives and superiority complex. It will be interesting to see where the game developers fit this monster. Bane’s the only person who exposed Batman’s secret identity, infiltrated the Bat Cave and broke the Bat’s back, therefore ending a long saga. His version of punishment will be more severe than Black Mask’s, I just know it.
Some of the Arkham Origins posters from E3 allegedly show Bane as a sturdy human, and devoid of the mask that makes him the Monster that he is. We all know that Origins is a prequel to the crime ridden Gotham City we are so fond of, so the characters may still be in their youth, let’s pray Batman isn’t inexperienced! God knows what the story writers are upto.
Another child prodigy whose infatuation with collapsing worldly rules and chaos resulting from anarchy, forged him to become one of the most underrated Batman villains of all time. Lonnie Machin can be regarded as the equal opposite of the Robin or the Nightwing in all regards, but his combination of martial arts and intelligence make him a stronger personality besides what he’s like on paper.
Anarky is shown to be a grown up anti hero in Arkham Origins, and we will have to wait till we get across this master plotter. If you want to dig up on Anarky, do tune in to the upcoming Batman animated series on Cartoon Network called Beware of Batman.
The Prince of Crime Himself
There is no theatrics sans the man himself; single handedly ruling all the parameters of being badass, I hereby present to you – The Joker! From Jack Nicholson to Heath Ledger to Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker of Star Wars and Voice of The Joker in Arkham City), everyone knows the intricacies and complexities of portraying this criminally insane mastermind. The more complicated Joker’s moves look, the better are the follow-ups. I still love the double timing plans of the Joker over the Titan formula in Arkham City, nothing can beat that till date. In comics, the Joker paralyses Batgirl (The Killing Joke) and kills a Robin (Death in Family) and almost made a return with the 7-8th alternate issue. Such is the importance of the world’s greatest comic book anti hero.
With Arkham Origins, we know for sure that the Joker is back. With our past recollections, we also happen to know that The Joker follows no man, so rest assured he is not a Black Mask pawn. What is interesting is the rumour surrounding the fact that Arkham Origins actually tells you the story of the rise of both the Batman as well as the Joker. And how they interrupt each other for the first time. I love the comic book called The Killing Joke, wherein Bruce Wayne questions a lot and knows deep inside that Joker is just his mirror image. Can Origins show the rise of this gentleman in all theatrics? Is The Joker going to snatch the throne from The Black Mask?
Stay tuned until the 25th of October, 2013. And in the meantime, chew on this: