Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, Arkham Knight, Batman, Comics, Dark Knight Returns, Diary, Joker, Kenneth Clark, Mere Christianity, Scarecrow, The God Delusion, The Nude, The Silence of the Lambs, The Wake, Video Game, Video Game Review, Wizard of the Crow, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth
What follows here is the diary entries of one Joshua “Jammer” Smith after he began playing Arkham Knight, the latest part of the Arkham Batman Trilogy series. His recordings were compiled here and arranged in chronological order. We apologize to the reader if we give away any spoilers. Be forewarned the diary of entries relates Mr. Smith’s highs, lows, excelled expectations, and in certain instances momentary insanity.
- I’ve begun playing Arkham City, waiting for the PS4 to arrive. Why won’t it arrive. Michael, my brother in law, is showing off his consoles to Kimberly, my sister-in-law. Waiting. Waiting.
- SUCCESS, THE PS4 HAS ARRIVED!
- We’re not playing. Why are we not playing?
- Edith, my lovely lady wife, has to leave for an appointment. I mourn her loss, but BATMAN!!!!!!
- We’ve begun, I offered to Michael the chance to play first. Why did I offer him this gracious gift. Why? Now he is playing, enjoying the game. Enjoying the…HOLY SHIT we have to set Joker on FIRE! This is AWESOME!!!!
- We’re in a diner. Commissioner Gorden is talking. He’s being voiced by the Bald Guy in Breaking Bad. Told Kimberly that. She asks about Bryan Cranston. I just realized there were at least three bald dudes in Breaking Bad.
- Shit’s going down. There are Zombie’s in Gotham City. Wait. This is the Church scene in The Kingsman. Rip off, but SO Cool!
- Something’s Wrong. Oh god, please no. Please no! No! Why god why? I mean is it because I don’t believe in you? I’ll believe in you, FOR BATMAN!!!!
- Game’s working. I’m still an Atheist. Ha Ha Ha…oh god I’ve become Brian in Family Guy.
- The Batmobile is a little lame. I mean the control’s suck. Did they even Play any racing games?
- It’s my turn. I hope I sold my soul to the right Devil to Play. Holy Shit the Batmobile is Awesome. Michael was giving Kimberly Headaches. Seriously the graphics are amazing. I can actually see the Water forming on Batman’s Cape while we’re gliding.
- Holy shit I just shot somebody with the Batmobile. Rubber Bullets. I’ve discovered a new Joy. Running over people with the car. It’s the shit. Controls still suck.
- I wonder why the character of Batman inspires so much devotion, so much money being pushed into a single identity.
- We’ve found Poison Ivy. Kimberly asks why she hasn’t changed clothes in over three games. The red open shirt with the green panties. I’m a feminist and I agree. I note however that, I point out that given Ivy’s lack of identification with humanity, we’re lucky she’s even wearing clothes. I’m with her though. Batman’s at the bottom of the elevator. Priceless.
- Batman is a terrible Driver.
- I’m at Ace; we’ve just seen the Arkham Knight.
- Of course Scarecrow gets away.
- Wait. No.
- Joker’s Alive?
- No Joker’s Dead.
- But He’s here.
- Flashback scene. Batman’s turning into Joker. We all know it. It’s implied.
- Michael’s turn. I suyck at the car. It was a good idea making the tanks drones. We can all pretend the Batman myth is still alive. Batman doesn’t kill people.
- All right, we’ve figured it out. Joker isn’t alive, he’s like this voice in Batman’s head. He’s an illusion created by fear toxin and slow poisoning from exposure to Joker’s Blood. Mark Hamill said he wasn’t going to voice the Joker anymore. That liar. He lies. He Lies!!!
- It’s actually a pretty good trick. Joker appears at random. He’s become Batman’s Harvey.
- They like to play with this relationship. Snyder wrote Death of the Family. Probably the Best Batman/Joker story in the last few years. Seriously, everybody loves the Joker and sometimes I don’t understand why, but Kimberly explains it. She says Joker’s humor is such that he says the most horrible things but he can still make you laugh. I get it. I mean when the man can make you chuckle about beating a kid to death with a crowbar, that’s talent. But it’s more than that. His humor softens what is in fact a real psychotic behavior that in reality would terrify us. It’s pure evil masked by the soft features of comedy. Joker’s a Sacred clown at a distance, shocking us with amoral behavior that should repulse us, but instead we’re drawn to him, buffered by the separation by fiction.
- Who is the Arkham Knight. Who is he? It’s got to be Tahlia? Jason Todd? Damien Wayne? Hugo Strange? Or somebody else?
- Oh my god, Barbara Gordon’s dead. I’m actually crying.
- Where the hell is Scarecrow? Seriously, they’ve turned him into Hugo Strange. Like he’s there on the monitors talking, but where the hell is he?
- Michael’s playing. They keep saying the is how the Batman died. I can’t buy that. We’ve seen it too many times. It’s like Batman Incorporated all over again. When they killed Damien, I didn’t care. I wasn’t moved. Because people don’t die in comics. We’ve become to jaded. The writers and producers have us too accustomed with death that we the comics reading audience have become inured to it. In the universe in which we spend most of our time, death is no more than a holiday. People will leave, but we know, deep down, that they’ll return. It’s just a matter of waiting. Riddler’s challenges are racing games? Seriously? They just want us to worship the black phallus that is the Batmobile…to be fair, it is fun to blow up tanks.
- Barbara’s dead. Every time we lose we have to see her corpse. It wouldn’t be so bad if they hadn’t shown us that clip of Joker shooting her. That’s something that’s always bothered me about the The Batman Universe, is its penchant to always make women either sexual objects of victims. It reminds me of a documentary about Heavy Metal I watched years ago. Men create single sex environments so that sexual anxieties simply disappear. We revert back into a boyhood state where it’s just boys, getting the job done, and enjoying the gadjets that help create Faux-Masculinity. That’s why Batman loves his gadgets and toys rather than Catwoman I think. It’s because if he had to acknowledge adult desires it would get in the way of his mission. So we watch girl after girl try to tempt Batman with her senual figure and boobs packed so tight into…dear lord Harley….
- Michael’s out of the room. Doing laundry. I think the Riddler challenges were pissing him off. I don’t blame him. Blowing up Batman in his car is fun the first dozen times or so, but it gets old after a while.
- Edith’s back. She had to work in the lab. Science, a field defined by awesomeness yet beyond my capabilities. Watching Nightwing kick ass. It’s sick. God this game is fun.
- Played for so long. Don’t want to stop. Can’t stop. Have to stop. Sleep. I hate sleep.
- Edith’s gone, not sure when she’ll be back. I love my lovely lady wife but when it comes to story’s, appreciate narrative arcs, there’s a divide between us. Don’t get me wrong, she can follow and process the subtleties of story, but there doesn’t seem an all consuming desire to dig into a story and empathize with a character…unless it’s Han Solo. I’m being mean. Batman Deprivation. I’m in the game. Still, her absence is sad. Michael plays games to win, to make money, buy cars. For him it seems like a contest. Kimberly’s different though. She listens to opera and reads books a lot. It’s easy to talk to Kimberly about art. I just wish Cayla could have been here. I miss Edith.
- Damn Drone Tanks. Had to give the game back to Michael. It’s the deal. He plays against tanks, I play the main story line…until he doesn’t give the controller back. Have to kill the boy. Make it look like an accident. Yeah…yeah, that’s it. An accident in the bathroom maybe. Batman’s worth it. Must continue, oh wait, it’s back to me, never mind.
- Michael’s playing the game again. He’s been playing for the last half hour. Getting frustrated in the Riddler tunnel. You have to glide to a button on the wall. God Riddler’s a pissy little bitch. The room’s getting tense. We can all feel it. Every failed attempt to hit the button results in a bark, a yell, a shout of disbelief. I’ve retreated three times already. Washed the dishes, folded some laundry. We’re all trying to avoid eye contact. Riddler’s getting into our heads. Filling the house with an anxious tension grounded in our ineptitude. We are so, like, NOT like Batman right now. Each failed attempts reminds me that we’re at 75% completion on the main story line. We need to finish. We HAVE to finish. But instead we’re here, puzzled by our own mediocrity. I’ve retreated into C.S. Lewis, but all the man writes is loo[ping metaphors about Christianity so instead I’ve gone back into Kenneth Clarke’s The Nude. I’m reading about Venus during the classical period. I read a quote while Batman falls in the water:
- The representation of the female nude in late antiquity from which I have drawn these conclusions are scanty and, for the most part, crude. Long before it had become the object of moral or religious reprobation it had practically ceased to be the subject for art. As far as I know, there is no a single nude statue of a woman of this period that can be dated, with any probability, after the second century A.D. (145).
- I read this and all I can wonder is: WHO THE HELL IS THE ARKHAM KNIGHT!!!!!
- Another failure. Enigma grants us a reprieve we take it and continue the story.
- We’ve taken on the three Jokers who aren’t Jokers but people turning into Jokers. There’s a part, oh my god, let me show you:
- We’re all laughing. Died three times. cAn’t stop laughing. I’m actually humming the song. Batman’s losing it slowly.
- Every game, every story, at some point has to bring in the Joker. Arkham Asylum, Hush, Joker, Death of the Family, Endgame, The Long Halloween, The Dark Knight Returns. This game was supposed to be about Scarecrow, but it’s become something else. Every time you turn the corner Joker’s there taunting Batman. Becoming him. Infecting him.
- Watched Jason Todd’s Torture. The branding iron. The scream. I’d stop but I have to know. That’s the success of these games. The perfect combination of visual splendor, cerebral storyline, identification with the character, the ability to live out your fantasies of physical and mental perfection, punching somebody in the face and breaking their arm. Arkham Knight delivers. It gives youy everything you want. It’s the perfect game.
- I miss Edith. I wish she was here. She’s so funny and pretty and sweet. I really love her.
- WHO THE FUCKING HELL IS ARKHAM KNIGHT!!!!!!!!!
- I’m calm.
- Poison Ivy….holy hell. I just hope people with allergies are allright.
- It’s 7:30. I missed Graphic Novel Book club. I feel awful. I could probably still make it, but we’re close now. 90%. We can complete this fucker. I text TJ and tell him I can’t make it. Give him the numbers. It’s a shame, I had a speech laid out and everything for tonight. I have to stop missing social obligations, but my mind is so much beyond me sometimes.
- Found out who the Arkham Knight is. Meh. Saw it coming.
- We’re back in the asylum. Crane’s pumped Batman full of it, but Batman…Batman’s gone.
- The Joker-Mobile. That had better fuckin be at Comic Con soon, or else I’m gonna lose my shit. I just shot Penguin. Shot Riddler. Twice. He was already dead, but dammit catharsis motherfucker.
- Batman just became a weeping angel.
- It ends with Batman giving the line, that so many people have said. And everysingle time they say it I flinch. It’s embarrassing. It’s like they lifted my skirt and showed them everything. Not my goods, but the bare skin beneath that. It’s like whenever they fuck up at that line, I believe the haters that say comics are just for illiterate hacks and little kids. But Kevin Conroy nails it every time. “I am the Knight. I, am, Batman.” It’s a War-God yawp from the depths of the human abyss where men cease being men and become something more. I watch him toss and lock Joker into a cell. And there too is the second chill of the night. Watching Joker retreat back into nothing he holds his arm out, and Mark Hamill, damn if he doesn’t…he says, “Wait Bats, you can’t leave me.” His hand holds out from between the bars. “I need you.” And there I think is possibly the most satisfying Joker end I’ve ever seen. It’s become a cliché, and an overused trope, but the Joker needs Batman, not just because he’s in love, but because ultimately without Batman he’s nothing. There’s no one who will understand the joke, and a fool without a crowd or a King is just a man speaking into the abyss.
- We finish it there. End Scarecrow. The Games over.
- We go out for McDonalds. I feel the way I did when I finished Les Miserables. After 1200 pages there’s a wonderful sense of completion. A real sense of closure. It was a damn good game.
- Kimberly goes home and we resume. I play some of the side missions.
- Awww hell this is weird. What’s up with all the doll imagery. This must be doll maker, this is gonna be…wait, it’s not, what was that sound?
- IT’S PYG!!! IT’S PYG!!!! BLECH, OH, JESUS, GOD, NO, JUST…NO. FUCK THAT!!!!!
- I turn the game off and hope I don’t have nightmares. The squeals…they haunt me.
- I have a small stack of books to read, books I’ve been working on for the last few weeks. The Wake by Scott Snyder and Sean Murphey, Kenneth Clark’s The Nude, The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, The Silence of the Lambs Richard Harris, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan, Wizard of the Crow by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, and two novels to edit and try to get published. I have to edit three essays for a woman’s son so he can apply to medical school. I need to wash dishes and publish a new essay for the blog. But the game calls me. I think I’ll start a new one so Edith can see it from start to finish. Just play for a few minutes…just a few…minutes…
A Message from the Compiler:
Joshua “Jammer” Smith was never able to finish this post. He is, as of this writing, still playing Arkham Knight which is available for PC, XBOX 1, and PS 4. Should you find the time, he recommends the game to any and all who play it. Oh, sorry, I must leave, he’s rung the bell which means it’s time for his morphine drip. It’s the only food I can get him to eat since he refuses to leave the couch to play it.