I'm a stickler for continuity and try to stay focused on only the regular DC Universe timeline. However, it is enjoyable every once in a while to drift off-track and take in some alternate reality adventure and excitement. That's exactly what I've done with the "Arkham City" series of books and I have to say I haven't regretted it yet.
The latest graphic novel, "Batman: Arkham Unhinged," continues to explore the world of the popular video game. It collects chapters 1 through 13 of the online digital series. The book also includes 6 and 7 of the "Batman: Arkham City" Digital Chapters.
Although Dr. Hugo Strange has successfully gathered up the most notorious criminals in Gotham City and imprisoned them in Arkham City, there are two who have managed to elude him. Catwoman and Two-Face still wander the streets free and Strange will stop at nothing to get them into his custody. They're not the only ones he has his eyes on. The good doctor is obsessed with giving Batman a psychiatric examination to see what makes him tick. Meanwhile, the war between the Joker and the Penguin heats up inside the gates of Arkham City.
Most of the book is written by Derek Fridolfs with Paul Dini providing the story for a couple chapters. Both Dini and Fridolfs inject just the right amount of humor, action, and drama into the tales to keep any Batman fanatic happy. The Joker is at the top of his game with all sorts of deadly pranks and traps for all those who cross him.
The art for "Batman: Arkham Unhinged" is handled by too many people to name here. My favorite aspect flowing through the entire book is the unshaven face of Batman. It gives him the appearance that he's so obsessed with bringing the insanity unleashed on both Gotham and Arkham City to an end, he hasn't even stopped to shave.
I especially enjoyed the homage to "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns" that artist Pete Woods drew for the "Surgeon's General" story. His four-panel spread featuring the different versions of Batman as seen through the eyes of the criminals was also genius. Nice opportunity to draw classic Batman, new Batman, and "Batman Beyond" all for the same tale.
DC gives a special gift to gamers who purchase "Batman: Arkham Unhinged." The graphic novel features a download code for five XBOX 360 "Batman: Arkham City" playable skins. It's found on the inside back cover of the book. Talk about adding a little more incentive to give this a try even if you don't usually read comics.
I really enjoyed the story and artwork of "Batman: Arkham Unhinged." It provides a great outlet to continue and expand upon the storyline established in the video game. Most of the attraction for me is seeing so many of the Dark Knight's super villains in one book.