Friday, August 3, 2012


There are three stories collected into this print issue, which is a bit unconventional for this title. Usually all the stories in Unhinged are three chapters long when split up and released digitally. Each chapter is 10 pages so each story comes out to 30 pages total. But as the story ideas were being planned at the time, I had found out that a couple earlier Digital Exclusive stories I had worked on with Paul Dini, had gotten left out of the hardcover that collected the Arkham City mini-series that Paul wrote. The readers would no doubt be wondering what happened to those stories. And just the completist fan in me wanted to see those two stories get collected. So I thought it might work out to have them be reprinted in Arkham Unhinged (the print comic as well as any TPB release of stories from Unhinged). With that it mind, it was just a matter of coming up with a short one chapter story for Unhinged that could get collected with those other two Arkham City stories.

Now that you know that backstory, let's get into each of the stories themselves…


This was an instance where the game directly inspired the story. Keeping in mind that the game hadn't come out yet when I was writing this one, as news continued to break on all the new features for Arkham City, one thing was gaining a lot of momentum…all the various "skins" in the game (the various suits that Batman could wear). Aside from the traditional one that came standard in the game, players could download or purchase additional skins based off of popular versions of the character throughout the years. So I thought, what better way to tie-in with that, than to do a story that examined how those versions of Batman could all be inside Arkham City. That all the various inmates would have stories relating to the Batman that they saw or fought.

Of course, this isn't a new theme, especially for Batman. In the comics, the title of Legends Of The Dark Knight would become well known for having different interpretations of the character. The same could be said for Elseworlds stories related to Batman. And it's happened in animation a couple of times. An episode for The New Batman Adventures  was appropriately titled "Legends Of The Dark Knight", featuring a group of kids exchanging stories of who Batman is. And the direct-to-dvd film Batman: Gotham Knight had a story that retreaded that same ground.

Call it a guilty pleasure, but it gave me free reign to have a "Dark Knight Returns" Batman as envisioned in Arkham City. The place where the inmates would gather would be a nod ("Miller's Junkyard") as well as plenty of iconic shots as a nice callback to Frank's famous story. Also tried my best to write this section in Frank's voice. Pure fanboy fun! A lot of times, you never know who the artist will be to draw your script after you turn it in. I lucked out having artist Pete Woods draw this story. He was able to capture all the styles of Batman that were in the story and turned in a great performance.

artist Pete Woods doing his best Frank Miller
This story is also the one I always recommend to people wanting to try Arkham Unhinged or digital for the first time. It's a short done-in-one story that gives an idea of what's going on in the game. And for 99 cents, ya can't beat that.


The next two were the Digital Exclusives that came out during the Arkham City mini-series. It was a chance to work again with Paul Dini. He was plotting these stories and I'd be scripting them, much in the same way I had done on Batman: Streets Of Gotham issues #12 and #13.

For the longest time, I was just a huge fan of his work from the animated shows, devouring all the episodes, and listening to all the commentaries. Then having the chance to ink solid runs of comics that he wrote, on Detective Comics and Streets Of Gotham. But to script off of Dini's plots is a mixed blessing. You pinch yourself that you get to work with him, but then you don't want to drop the ball in the collaboration.

Paul always turned in very complete plots. There was always just enough there to know what the story was about or what the characters were thinking. And then it was a matter of pacing it all out and adding in their voices. And for something like this, I always wanted to be as true to Paul's voice as well as whatever I could add to it. But most importantly, being true to the characters.

Here's a sample to show some of the description that Paul would give in the plot:

Scarface is condescending to Harley, not insulting her, but treating her like hired help.  (“Hey, there she is.  Run and gets us a drink, will ya, doll-face.”)  Harley coldly says Mr. J. isn’t well and shouldn’t drink (or something like that, some indication that he’s still reeling from the Titan sickness.) Scarface tells Harley to make herself scarce, he’s got some ideas to go over with Joker about running things in Arkham City.  When Harley snaps at the Joker for using the puppet to insult her, Joker laughs and says it’s just a gag.  He knocks the puppet  around to show he’s not serious.

drawn by Al Barrionuevo
I also like that Paul got into the history of Scarface, how it's changed hands from Wesker, to Sugar, to Penguin, and to Joker. It was nice that he worked Sugar into the flashback, since those were some of the issues I had worked on during our Detective run. And always fun to see the Dini-verse continue from the comics and into the games.

drawn by  Jimbo Salgado

I think the thing I remember most from working on this story, was even at that time, how in the dark I was about the game. It was still many months before the game would be coming out. I hadn't played it or seen much of it at this point (no more than what any person had seen online). But here was a story with Mr.Freeze, who hadn't even been revealed yet to the public. I'd get notes explaining his situation in the game and how he would be set up in the GCPD building to work on his cure. But outside of that, not much was revealed just yet.

I remember wanting to show the vehicle that Freeze escapes in from Arkham Asylum. That in the back of the vehicle it would have special things set up to transport the various prisoners to the facility. I thought it might be fun to show a containment pod that could be used to bring Clayface, not yet knowing how his involvement in the game might be. Of course, once they mentioned he would be unannounced and a surprise to anyone once they finally got to play the ending to the game…that made it easy to drop any reference to Clayface at this point.


  1. I like you. Both as an artist and an author, your love for the characters you are writing (and their individual histories) is always apparent. Keep up the good work!

    1. In comics, you're not always guaranteed to work on projects you like. A lot of times, you're just happy for the work, whatever it might be. But hopefully it shows when you get on something you enjoy as a fan. I've been fortunate in that regard.

      Thanks for writing!