Wednesday, June 27, 2012


With the 6-part Arkham City "End Game" story over, I guess it's time to share some final thoughts and reflections.

I think with a lot of stories, one can be under the gun as a writer. Deadlines and schedules are constantly changed around as you're trying to finish everything. Early ideas and drafts of stories probably look a lot different than the finished product, as you apply notes and cut out and add things at your own discretion or encouraged to by the company. It can sometimes be a minor miracle if everything turns out as it should, much less if the reader enjoys it at the end of the day.

I am extremely happy with the way it all came together. And much of that starts with the artist, Jason Shawn Alexander. It was quite the vetting process trying to not only find someone that fit the tone of this dark story, but someone that was available. But when I was presented with his art, I was sold. Jason comes from a very naturalistic style to his work. His characters look very human, and real in all the right and wrong ways. Heroic, innocent, and when needed, very disturbing. He captures all of that in his storytelling and in a lot of very reflective moments with the characters, we're brought into the story and into the panels with them. I look forward to all of Jason's future projects and hope we get a chance to reteam sometime down the line.

As far as the deathtrap scenario of chapter 5 and how that was resolved (or wasn't resolved) in chapter 6, my approach to it was this… I didn't want to make it conclusive. I didn't want to show exactly how Batman could've escaped that locked cell surrounded by all the bombs within. I wanted to leave that to the reader. It's sort of my pet peeve of the dumbing down of entertainment and the over explanation of everything. So many times, you're presented with how something turns out in comics, shows, and movies. And at the end of it, it's inevitable. You'll turn to your friends or think to yourself, "Yeah, but I would've done it this way instead."  Think of this as me allowing that to happen. To bring that imagination back to comics. To not spell everything out. To let each of you to come up with your own reason for how this occurred and how Batman escaped. I know I have my own idea how it happened. And now you can have your own too.

I know there's still a lot of debate over whether the Joker is dead or not. I think comics in general have molded our minds to think, dead is never dead. That characters come back, both heroes and especially villains. That nothing is ever final. But what if it were? The thing I love about the Arkham-verse in the games, is that they don't have to follow those notions at all. It's its own universe, separate from the regular DC comic continuity and universe. What happens together in the games and the Arkham related comics is its own thing. And with that, we're able to explore what actually does happen when the greatest threat to Batman and Gotham is no longer with us. And that's not to say that none of us involved don't like the Joker. Quite the opposite. But it should be fascinating the new ground still yet to be discovered.

There will always be those detractors that think this can be another trick from the Joker, it could be a version of Clayface in disguise, another switcheroo, a clone… any number of excuses why it isn't him. That even if they cried out to see an autopsy shown in the comics, that they still wouldn't believe the results. That any way you presented it, there'd always be disbelief or outright denial. Whether that's because of how comics have always been presented or not, or just the love for the character and wanting to see his return…it's probably all of that. But as a writer, I'm always interested in what comes next. No one really gets to tell the aftermath of death in comics very often, because we're usually spoiled knowing the character is returning before their body is even cold. But here, Joker's body isn't cold anymore. It's very burnt and ashy. I'm ready to accept that and hope the readers are too.



  1. I just finished this and I have to say I was very pleased. I loved the way the sketchy style of the art really helped to accentuate the brooding mood of the story, the two together just complimented eachother perfectly.

    For me, this has to be one of the best Joker stories out there. It hits all the right notes, the joker's dark humor, the close relationship with Batman, and of course the death traps. No joker story could be complete with out those, and you managed to come up with some really neat ones that were both new and unique but still hearkening back to some of the greats from the past.

    And I agree, the open ended escape was definitely the way to go. While I wouldn't have been against a straight forward reveal, being able to play out such a classic scene like that in my head worked really well.

    Truth be told though I was kind of hoping he didn't make it at all. Going with your idea that this is a separate continuity with no need to be beholden to the standards of the mainstream universe I thought it would be fitting that the last Joker story would also be the last Batman story as well.
    I went into this thinking that would be neat to see so right when I saw the meeting between Batman and Jim I began to think that perhaps it wasn't Bruce under the cowl. The ending made it was clear it was Bruce, and that'll be the standard when the story continues but in my head I think part of me will always think of that as the perfect ending for Bruce.

    1. It's a funny thing with the death traps and the escape. It's been a bit of a mixed bag reaction, and I understand it from both sides. I understand all the hate from the people that wanted to have a specific concrete answer to how Batman escaped. The same people that would've loved to do the autopsy on Joker's body themselves. And maybe if this story was presented in some other form of media, one might need to expand on and explain it all away. But my approach was it was never important how he escaped, but that he found a way which ultimately gets him to the end of the story of getting with Gordon to take care of Joker's body. That it didn't matter what combination of kevlar reinforced armor, gel guns, or limitless tools from his belt to avoid death…that doesn't make the story. It's the history of Batman and Joker's relationship (and Gordon), that was my focus. Plus I wanted a bit of ambiguity, to show how it affected Bullock and the rest of the cops on the scene. Had we seen every move Batman made to escape, I feel, would've lessened the impact of those arriving after the explosion.

      If Batman would've died, like you'd kind of been hoping…that would've been pretty dramatic and surprising in its own right! Higher powers than me would have to make those decisions. heh But I agree, that it's definitely refreshing working in the Arkham-verse where characters can and do die. That it doesn't have to stick to the continuity of the mainstream universe. That's very gratifying as a writer, because then all bets are off. No one is safe. Just in this instance, Batman goes on to live another day. And Joker doesn't.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Bill.