Sunday, October 14, 2012


This issue seemed to get the fans the most riled up due to the timing of when it takes place. In the game, after Batman is helped out from under the rubble by Catwoman, Protocol 10 is in effect and he's to forget about going after Talia and go directly after Hugo. By placing this Sirens story in-between all of that, immediately didn't sit well with a lot of people. But I had my reasons for it.

The genesis for the story started with wanting to do a story with the three girls together, which we never get to see in the game. In the comics, DC and Dini had completed a run on the Gotham City Sirens title, uniting Catwoman, Harley, and Ivy. There wasn't much alluded to the three of them all together in the Arkham games, aside from Harley being friends with Ivy (helping release her in the first Arkham Asylum game) and Catwoman having killed off some of Ivy's flowers, leading to the scene where she gets strung up by her in Arkham City. Even the game trophy was named "Arkham City Sirens". But any scene with the three of them all in the same room, never transpired in the game. And after having so many guy centered stories in Unhinged, I just wanted to find a way to write the three of them together, even if it was a flashback leading up to their current predicament in the game. And truth be told…a chance to show the classic version of Harley we all know and love from the show. I miss that classic jester outfit since the games and comics have moved on from it. But for flashbacks, it could be allowed.

"Arkham City Sirens" by story artist Mike S. Miller

The problem for this issue was having it take place in the small window between Batman's rescue and going after Hugo. But my answer to that has always rested with the gameplay itself. The game has it's free roam capabilities. There's the main story going on, along with plenty of side missions, leaving it up to the gamer to decide what order to play certain parts in and how long those will take. Even from the very beginning of the game, after you suit up as Batman, your first mission is to go to the courthouse and rescue Catwoman. But if you decide you want to go out and roam Gotham, beat up thugs, collect trophies, or just wander…there's that option. It might take you one minute to go directly to the courthouse or it might take you one hour or longer if you put it off (of course, you'll get reminded to go save her if you delay too long). And things like that happen throughout the game if you start to deviate from a main mission objective. But again, the time it takes to do some of that is left up to the gamer themselves.

With that in mind, having placed this story in-between a crucial part of the game, didn't allow for much wiggle room…but it is there if you allow it to be. Some are willing to suspend that disbelief to enjoy the stories. Others are sticklers to detail that it could never happen in the game. Such is the box one is placed in when you work in the confines of writing stories adapting video games. It's up to each reader whether they want it to be canon in their mind (which is always humorously insightful when I'll read some that don't consider Unhinged canon but End Game is canon). But here's the thing…both Unhinged and End Game get read, notes provided, suggestions made, changes enacted, all going through Rocksteady and DC before they're approved to get made. So saying one title is canon and one title isn't canon, is a conflicting statement to make based only on opinion. But everything Arkham related doesn't get made without the approval of both Rocksteady and DC. If that's not canon, then I don't know what is. It really becomes a fascinating insight into the mind of the reader though. All of us are different. All of us place some stories as canon and others as insignificant. Some voicing their opinions very loudly while others choose not to let it bother them one way or the other. Fandom at its finest!

New character "Fervor"...every bit as annoying as you would expect from a tabloid princess

Another thing I'd like to address is character creation. I've always admired that Dini created so many new characters during his run in comics (on Detective and Streets Of Gotham) and the animated shows of course. And some of those creations, he'd always find ways of writing into projects he was on. His own "Diniverse" that would follow him onto whatever comic story he was writing. You'll have some creators very loudly claim to not want to create any new characters that the company will own and they won't. On the one hand, it's safe and smart to keep very personal characters and large ideas to yourself to own, of course. But on the other hand, not wanting to actually add new villains or characters to DC while writing Batman seems like being overly careful and a missed opportunity. And I feel confident enough as a creator that I'm a fountain of ideas. I'm not going to miss creating one character for this story that I'd be all tapped out and not have anything for myself. And truth be told, most villains or new characters created for companies like DC, don't grow big enough to be that popular anyways. There are always exceptions of course. So this is my roundabout way of saying that I was looking to add a new character. Whether she sees life outside of this one issue, either in comics or games, is out of my hands (actually there's the possibility she might cameo in my next DC project, so we'll see). But yeah, it's kind of a fun treat to create someone new and try to insert it into a story.

Fervor was created as a means to shed light on my distaste for celebrities in the news. You know the ones…the Kardashians, Lohans, etc.  The no-talent media whores that seem to be in the tabloids and invade all news reports, that one can't escape from hearing. The ones we just want to go away. It was very easy to make her as annoying as possible right down to the shorthand twitter-speak.

Catwoman provides astute observation...

And of course, it's always fun writing all these girls in action and having Batman thrown into the middle. A chance to shed some insight on how Catwoman views Batman. Other criminals view him as an agent of fear and a threat to stopping their actions. Catwoman of course has a different opinion.

On art, it was a chance to have Mike S. Miller return to draw a story. He did a nice job on our very first Unhinged story with Catwoman, it seemed natural to have him draw her appeance again with a few more ladies added. Also this was the first issue where we got Mico Suayan on cover art duties. And through the first few covers he would complete, would be enough to encourage DC to have him pencil a story for Unhinged which gave him a chance to draw just about every character in the Arkham-verse.

Cover artist Mico Suayan's original pencils


  1. Derek I believe you have read my mind and the mind of many other fans. I was indeed waiting for you to write your commentary on this issue so that I could ask you about the timeline of this issue, but you have already explained it. Thank you for explaining the timeline problem and I look foreword to reading more of your commentaries on arkham unhinged.