Get your creepy on as a new Bat-book brings Arkham Asylum to Wayne Manor…and puts Bruce right in the thick of everything.
Readers who aren’t up to date on Batman Eternal may scratch their heads at a few plot points in the opening issue of this series, but Gerry Duggan and Shawn Crystal do a solid job of providing a fairly easy entry point to the new Batman status quo. Duggan uses snippets of conversations to give the readers a heads up as to where things are at, and some of the situation that has lead to Wayne Manor being available for occupancy. Duggan does this well without being heavy handed, which I appreciated. Without a recap page to fall back on, he has a lot of ground to cover and he does so at a solid pace that never feels rushed. This issue flows very nicely, keeping the undertones of danger at all times, as a thriller should. Duggan uses very clever dialogue throughout, playing on the fear that comes from the word “Arkham” well, and building to a final page that has a huge impact. The danger that Bruce and Gotham are facing in light of the events of Eternal is evident throughout this entire issue, and Duggan plays on that tension masterfully. He also uses the Manor for some interesting emotional beats and it is obvious that, similar to Gotham Academy, the titular building will have a huge impact on this comic.
Shawn Crystal’s artwork sets the tone for this comic brilliantly, giving readers a ghost story brought to life in comics. While there are seemingly no supernatural elements at play (yet), Crystal’s artwork gives the entire comic an eerie and mystical vibe, like spirits are restless and Wayne Manor is harboring secrets that are dangerous. Crystal gives the situation of “inmates in a creepy old house” a perfect visual representation and his Bruce Wayne is weary yet stubborn as all hell. He’s got just the right amount of stubble for how beat up he currently is, and the Manor itself looks weary much of the time. The house has gone through a lot over the years and Crystal makes it show. Crystal uses some great layouts and spreads for huge impact in this issue, and his work showing the Manor as it was compared to now is brilliant. I loved that visual and Crystal absolutely nailed it.
Arkham Manor #1 is the Batman haunted house thriller you didn’t know you wanted that is done so well you can’t help but dive in. Duggan and Crystal set a unique tone with this first issue that I didn’t expect and loved whole heartedly. Sign me up for a stay in the Manor…
The Verdict: 9.0/10