Rating: 4/5 – Closing the Doors to Arkham Manor.
by ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.
DC’s Convergence event is almost here, and with that event came the announcement that many of DC’s current titles would be going through some creative changes, or being cancelled with new titles taking their place. One of the announced cancellations was Arkham Manor. This was disappointing to me as I really enjoyed this title, as short-lived as it was. Arkham Manor spun out of the events of Batman Eternal as the Wayne Manor became the new Arkham Asylum after the original building was destroyed. In this sixth and final issue of Arkham Manor storylines are wrapped up rather quickly, but definitely satisfyingly.
Writer Gerry Duggan concludes a lot of storylines in this issue including the apprehension of an inmate who escaped back in the second issue, hinting at a possible future for one of Batman’s other “civilian” identities, showing us what happened with the Jokerized Clayface and even a few more. Each storyline gets anywhere from one to five pages to conclude and although that sounds short, each one feels finite while still leaving the door open for future story possibilities. As sorry as I am to see Arkham Manor go away for the writing, it’s Shawn Crystal’s art that I’ll miss the most.
Crystal’s pencils are unique in that he uses a lot of scratchy lines that cast some heavy shadows, yet his work also looks slightly cartoony. His anatomy for example looks proportionate and makes sense at first glance, yet you’ll notice that Batman’s boots are just a bit larger than normal, or his character’s eyes are slightly larger in order to show more emotion. Except for a couple sequences, the concluding storylines don’t give Crystal many action-heavy pages for him to let loose in grand fashion, but he still makes the most of what the story gives him. Hopefully it’s a short amount of time before his pencils are seen again in the pages of a monthly book.
Given more time on this title it feels as though Duggan and Crystal could have done so much more. There’s potential inside the walls of Arkham Asylum no matter what building it’s housed in. Hopefully DC will revisit the Manor again post Convergence, but even if they don’t, these six issues provide a wonderful story and excellent art to revisit over and over again. If you happened to miss these issues as they were coming out, do yourself a favor and pick up the trade when it’s released as you’ll be able to get the whole series in one single volume.
Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
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