Chapter By Chapter (usually) features me reading one chapter of the selected book at a time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
In our last set of chapters, Bane managed to break a bunch of Arkham’s worst villains out of the Asylum. I know, that’s not exactly hard to do. Pretty sure you can do that with a 4-year-old and box of animal crackers at this point. That took two chapters and this week it’s three to see what happens next.
I’m not just harping on this because of the name of the review series. I’ve seen far worse use of chapters just in the books I’ve looked at for this series. It’s just odd to see chapters used as scene breaks rather than just good story breaks. My approach to this is “reviewing an episode of a TV show” for a reason. Each chapter is more than just a scene change to me. It’s a good place to stop and think about where you’ve gone with the story, to read something and then step back into reality for whatever chore or activity you need to do. If that’s nothing and you want to read a little more you can go on to the next chapter, but something about two page chapters doesn’t really feel like a chapter to me. It’s not a decent amount of reading. Maybe it’s just my brain but it’s how chapters usually work and it’s what I’m use to. So forgive me for complaining about this as it is more personal than critical.
With that, let’s see what happens now that Arkham Asylum is bleeding patients. Or as they refer to it in Gotham City, Wednesday.
Chapter 10 doesn’t so much move the plot forward but tells the three readers who don’t know Batman’s origin about his origin. The framing device is interesting, as Bruce has those kind of memory dreams that I’m pretty sure only happens in fiction. I can understand referring to it when the story warrants it and it’s a very important origin, but it’s not like most people don’t know the important details, right down to the “superstitious, cowardly lot” line. It doesn’t really benefit the story at all and feels unnecessary as a consequence. It might have been better saved for later, as Bruce is recovering and wondering whether or not to take the mantle back from…well, we’ll get there eventually. The only thing of real note is that Bruce’s “speed sleep” technique didn’t give him the restful sleep it usually does, hinting to how he’s already going into this fight at less than 100%, though I don’t know if that’s O’Neil’s addition or was in the comic.
Chapter 11 actually has multiple segments, showing us some of the escapees. First it’s Maxie Zeus, who believes himself to actually be Zeus. If you’ve seen the 60s Batman show it’s like the guy who thought he was King Tut only without the head conking. If you saw Batman: The Animated Series you may have seen him there. Apparently he’s the gag villain because he goes on about it pleasing him to give up his power…before running into a tree. King of the gods, everyone!
From there we find the Ventriloquist, using his sock to create Socko the sock puppet again. They’re met by Amygdala, the victim of the doctors messing with his brain, causing him to have fits of violent rage if pushed the wrong way. Lest you forget this place has more quacks than Daffy Duck’s family reunion. If you know the Ventriloquist from the aforementioned Batman cartoon you know his actual puppet of choice is a ventriloquist dummy modeled after Al Capone called Scarface, the usual–and criminal–outlet of his multiple personality disorder. Some kids find Zeus and turn him in while Batman tries to track the other two.
Eventually Batman finds the pair at a toy store, Ventriloquist still looking for something to stand in for Scarface. I guess Socko isn’t good enough. No wonder he left to join the World Wrestling Federation. Had quite the career as Mankind’s manager, you know. We also learn that Amygdala can take a lot of hits before finally going down and hopefully keeping me from having to write that name again. However, Venty escapes because the cops finally realize the store moved and go to the right address. Apparently he’s STILL wanted for questioning. People DO know that Gordon talks to him and probably already got questioned by him, right? It’s an added bit of unnecessary conflict, but at the same time I could see Bane doing this on purpose as part of his plan to make things as difficult as possible for Batman.
Finally we get to chapter 12 and a short scene back in the Batcave, followed by one upstairs as Alfred talks with Tim. In between we see some other quack claiming these villains aren’t insane, just “misunderstood”. So basically he’s an idiot with a degree. Come to think of it he could probably get a job at Arkham in the top positions. The whole purpose is just to show that Bruce takes responsibility for everyone the criminals kill simply because he’s Batman. That’s kind of silly. Batman isn’t Superman and Superman can’t save everybody. Thinking about it will drive you crazy and I do not like when writers give us crazy Batman. As Alfred notes, he’s doing a better job than the police while still running from the police. I’m just not a fan of this mindset for Bruce. Heck, for once you can’t even blame Arkham security for…well, I guess you can given that they didn’t care about the obvious questionable activity going on right in front of them.
So, that’s three of the major criminals down, and apparently Batman snagged a few more that aren’t part of the usual Gallery, and more to go. Next time we’ll see who get goes after next.
[…] right, only ONE chapter this week. Last time we read three because one was really short and the other two weren’t what qualifies to me as […]