The Batman: Arkham Knight trailer shown during Sony’s E3 press conference left quite an impression on us GeekParty folk. It looks like an adrenaline-fueled return to one of the last gen’s best game series — and one of the best licensed franchises to ever grace the world of gamedom. While I’m very much interested in what that game has to offer, I’m currently thinking about what Rockteady might do afterward.
See, I just recently read Batman: The Court of Owls (as well as its follow-up, City of Owls), and it was one of the best Batman stories I’ve ever read. And I say that as a guy who’s been into Batman for almost 30 years. Without a doubt, this should be the basis of Rocksteady’s next Batman game. (Sure, Rocksteady might not be in the whole Batman thing after Arkham Knight, but a guy can dream, right?)
The story is perfect. Without spoiling too much, it tells the twisted tale of a secret society that’s been a part of Gotham City for centuries. And its members wear badass owl masks, which are creepy as hell.
What makes The Court of Owls so fascinating to me is that it’s more of Gotham City story than a Batman or Bruce Wayne story. This is a city with centuries of history — its lifespan extends far beyond Bruce’s own, or even that of his parents, which means that we get to see events that transpired over a hundred years ago. We also see characters that are ancestors of the cast we’re familiar with.
Additionally, the story ties into the architecture of the city, both in how certain events influenced the design of certain buildings and how those designs have affected the history of the city in turn. This is an aspect that we don’t get to see a whole lot of in comic books or video games.
One of the biggest advantages of this story in particular is that it gives Rocksteady a chance to tell a phemomenal story that doesn’t involve Joker. Sure, he’s one of the most famous rogues in comic book-dom, but there are good Joker stories in just about every medium Batman’s tale has been told in. Give the clown a break for once and let’s shine the spotlight on someone else. It’s likely Joker won’t reappear in Arkham Knight, but The Court of Owls introduces a threat that’s vague and mysterious, which means there are endless possibilities for Joker-less context to play out in all sorts of cool ways.
And the story also makes room to bring back some of the cooler elements from past Arkham games. Remember those freaky ass Scarecrow missions in Arkham Asylum? Well, The Court of Owls includes a tripped-out, hallucinogenic labyrinth, which could serve as the basis for a similar of thing.
The Court has secret lairs all over Gotham; discovering those and scouring them for clues would make for an excellent main storyline. This way, we could focus on Batman’s detective skills for the main story, while the cameos from rogues like Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn could throw some action sequences in the mix.
Hell, Rocksteady could go so far as to have Scott Snyder write the damn thing. Dear God, I just nerd bonered.
This may not be the largest or most important story in Batman’s extensive history, but I would argue that it’s one of the best, and one of the best-suited for a hell of a video game adaptation.