A third disappointment from Arkham Manor. In this issue, we watch Jack Shaw (Bruce Wayne) prowl through the guts of the former Wayne Manor searching for the killer he believes is Victor Zsasz–a missing manor guest. I have to give Crystal a lot of credit here, because the art is pretty good despite pages of actionless exposition.
There are four major reveals in this issue and almost all of them fall flat. The first is when the newest victim, previously foreshadowed Seth, falls in a convinient sink hole while being transferred to an ambulance. This, of course, sets off Seth’s paranoia about being buried alive earned from being trapped under the wreckage of the previous Arkham. If Seth wasn’t so heavy-hadedly blessed in the previous issues, this might have been interesting, but at this point I’m expecting far more and am left wanting.
The second major plot device is that Zsasz isn’t the killer, rather he is boarded up, half-alive in the bowels of Arkham Manor, presumably by the real murderer. I’m not a Batman fanboy, so any excitement I was supposed to feel at Zsasz’s name is lost on me, and any excitement I might have gained from that subtle-as-a-rock plot twist is erased by Shaw muses that Zsasz “might not be the killer after all” just two pages earlier.
Finally we have the dual reveal of the identity of the mute newcommer guest and the surprise reveal of the orderlies secret identity. This might have worked as the orderly is Batman’s inside contact. Unfortunately, we have been waiting for the identity of the wheelchair-bound mute for two issues now, and so the evokes feelings of “finally” rather then “aha!” when Clayface makes his appearance. Railroading that turn with Joker’s unmasking as the orderly doesn’t do much to improve things.
Overall, this issue took a predictable, heavy-handed turn into same-old batspace resulting in “Batman vs Joker and Clayface”; 2/5, this will be my last issue.