It dawned on me during the Robin: A Flip of the Coin DLC, spawning from something Oracle kept repeating during the game. She kept honing in on Robin’s similarities to “him,” to the former Batman that once protected Gotham City. It was innocent enough at first — a quip to keep dialogue going and add a layer of story to a pretty simplistic episode. The repetitious, however, made me wonder: Oracle what are you really suggesting?
And that’s when it dawned on me.
All of these little 12-minute episodes Rocksteady has been releasing? All of these minor campaigns starring supporting characters that take place primarily after the events of Arkham Knight? These aren’t just clever microtransactions for Bat fans. These DLC story packs are clues. Think about it. While Rocksteady may be “done” making Arkham games, the franchise is far from over, and Warner Bros. knows it. There are more stories to tell, more arcs to pull from recent Batman comic book history.
What that silver-tongued Oracle was suggesting goes beyond Robin’s duty to protect Gotham from Two-Face in A Flip of the Coin. Her references to Robin being like “him” are posturing. It’s setting Tim Drake (Robin) up for a possible run at the mantle of the Bat. We, as the gamers, are supposed to think about it, to mull over the idea of Tim Drake donning that classic cape and cowl.
But there’s more.
Red Hood? Nightwing? Catwoman? Harley Quinn? All of these short DLC story packs take place either before or after Arkham Knight. Harley Quinn’s story directly ties into how Poison Ivy winds up in Gotham in Arkham Knight. It’s a fun side-story and nothing more than background information for rabid fans. Catwoman’s story is a follow-up to her captivity under The Riddler. Again, another side-story. In the Red Hood and Nightwing stories, much like in Robin’s, we see three members of the Bat family taking up the reigns of a city without a Batman. Two of these Bat family members even have their own teams. Robin has Oracle reporting (presumably) from the clock tower, and Nightwing has Lucius Fox reporting from Wayne Tower. Nightwing and Fox even make a passing joke about all of the parties Fox is throwing, now that Fox owns everything. (Hint. Hint.)
And Red Hood? Some fans have argued that the Red Hood DLC story pack is a nod to the comic story Batman: Under The Hood, since the DLC features Black Mask as the villain. What’s unclear about the Red Hood story pack is when it takes place. Is it before the events of Arkham Knight? Is it after? We have no official ruling, but I personally feel this story takes place after the main game. Why? Because Batman didn’t know Jason Todd (The Red Hood) was alive until mid-way through Arkham Knight. No one in the Bat family knew, nor any of the villains, except for maybe Scarecrow. Even the best “ghosts” leave footprints somewhere, and since this game features Jason Todd’s big return this version of Batman’s timeline, to Gotham, I’m thinking Todd hasn’t picked up the mantel of the Red Hood until after he made amends with Batman. And with Batman now gone, it would be the perfect moment for Black Mask to make his move back into his old stomping grounds. Not to mention, placing the Red Hood story after the events of Arkham Knight fits in perfectly with the idea behind Robin and Nightwing’s stories. All three former Bat children are working independently to quell Arkham rogues looking to seize control, once again, of the city. These heroes are each bearing the burden of Batman, each positioning themselves to take a shot at wearing the cape and cowl.
What’s the next logical step then?
“Arkham: Battle for the Cowl.” Think about it. A game divided up among three teams, each one staking a claim and solidifying a foothold in Gotham. Robin has Oracle’s network. Nightwing has Lucius Fox’s financial backing and hideaways. Red Hood, the gun-toting former sidekick who was taken away from the family tree, has a more permanent solution to the criminal problem. Each one of them is different from the other, and each one has a legitimate claim to the bat-eared crown. These DLC vignettes weren’t just 12-minute teasers; they were clues showing us each one of Batman’s “offspring” operating on his own terms.
What about the Batgirl DLC though?
Ahhh, yes. Batgirl: A Matter of Family. The story is clearly set before Arkham Knight, as it takes place when The Joker was still alive. Beyond that, it has nothing to do with the rest of the game, other than it shows the budding relationship between Batgirl and Robin. The core narrative is mostly a one-off tale featuring Batgirl in an abandoned amusement park that isn’t on the Arkham Knight map. The only thing I can make of it is that it’s a nod to what may be The Joker’s last laugh. In A Matter of Family, The Joker wants to rid Gotham of the “Bat frauds” (Batgirl and Robin). He wants to dissolve the family. In the wake of the Nightwing, Robin and Red Hood story packs, it seems The Joker finally got his wish. The team is fragmented, operating independent of each other. Is it poetic? Maybe. Admittedly, it’s a bit of a stretch.
Still, all other signs tease a battle for the cowl. We’ll have to wait and see what December’s Season of Infamy brings.