It is not wrong when we say that Batman has one of the most diverse and dangerous Rogues Gallery in comic book history. There’s Joker – the Clown Prince of Crime. There’s Ra’s Al Ghul – the immortal warlord and leader of the League of Assassins. There’s Scarecrow and Killer Croc. Batman fights these guys on an almost daily basis. These guys are beyond redemption. Or at least we thought they were. The DC Future State just revealed that even the vilest of bad guys can become good guys in the face of adversary. Meet the Arkham Knights – Former Batman Villains who are now the greatest guardian force of Gotham City, a city they once tried to destroy while fighting Batman.
In Future State, things have taken a turn for the worse. Gotham has become a self-governed police state. A terrifying entity known as the Magistrate spies and takes control of its citizens. There is no room for privacy or freedom. The Magistrate exercises total control. A group of supervillains have decided to say “NO MORE”. They want to take down the Magistrate. And if doing so involves becoming the very thing they fought all these years, then so be it.
The Arkham Knights are like Gotham’s very own Suicide squad. But they are not conscripted. They do not have a bomb placed on their necks. They willingly fight evil for the sake of Gotham. And they will stop at nothing to get the job done. Will Batman be okay with it you ask? From the looks of it, he does not mind at all!!
The Magistrate has left no stone unturned. Using public misinformation, advanced spying technology, and persecuting dissenters with absolute ruthlessness, the City of Gotham has been brought down to its knees. While some citizens have been fighting the Magistrate via legal and ethical means, a certain group of bad guys have banded together to strongarm the Magistrate into submission. The Arkham Knights are led by Astrid Arkham, the last surviving member of the legendary Arkham Family line.
Astrid Arkham has recruited former criminals and villains into her new rebel team, And to be honest, they are quite effective and astonishingly efficient. The damaged, the broken, the lost and the vagabond have united to defeat the Magistrate and restore Gotham back to its former glory.
Astrid believes that by performing acts of resistance and forcing the Magistrate to take a step back, they will be inspiring other citizens to take up arms against the oppressive regime. Her plan is solid and has worked in the past in human history. In time, Astrid believes, Gotham will find an ally in the Arkham Knights and put their trust in them rather than the ones enjoying all the power.
Using their variety of abilities and skills, the Arkham Knights have proven themselves to be efficient enough to fight the enormous Peacekeeper forces of the Magistrate in Gotham City. The Peacekeeper army has been ruthless and effective in curbing dissent and executing who speak against the regime.
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Amongst the members of the Arkham Knights are – Clay Face, Two-Face, Humpty Dumpty. Mister Zsasz, Anarky, Copperhead, and Doctor Phosphorous. Astrid keeps them in line simply with a stern talking to. Her voice is enough to stop the villains in Arkham Knights from going astray. The fact that she can get even the volatile Mister Zsasz from falling back to his murderous instincts says wonders about her leadership abilities. Two-Face frequently gets into altercations with the other members and it is Astrid Arkham that outs him back in line.
To top it off, Gotham’s version of Marvel’s Thunderbolts is actively recruiting new members. One of their primary missions in Future State: The Next batman was to identify the location of Killer Croc and recruit him into the team before The Magistrate captures him. the Magistrate intends to capture rogue meta-humans and people deemed a threat to their hegemony and either convert or execute them. Things take a turn for the complicated when the team successfully executes their mission and retrieves Killer Croc. After coming back to their base of operations – a now decrepit Wayne Manor, Astrid assumes the role of a doctor, treating the super-villains like her own patients that need treatment.
When not on missions, Astrid Arkham takes care of her team mates like her own family. She tends to their requirements and ensures they get enough food and rest. She even makes sure they attend to their mandatory therapy sessions. Some of the villains are actually responding well to therapy.
Arkham Knights shows us a very complicated team in action. On one end, Arkham Knights is an efficient force made up of former criminals trying their hands on redeeming themselves. On the other hand, they are a highly fractured and dysfunctional team with literally no conscious moral compass and made up of broken men and women living in a make-believe world of paranoia.
There’s so much the others could learn from Astrid Arkham’s Arkham Knights. She may be a ruthless leader but she does her best to rehabilitate his team members, trying to make them a force for good. Instead of seeing them as tools, she sees them as human beings who have lost their way. To satiate their inhuman tendencies, she comes up with innovative methods to find a solution rather than punish them. For example – Mister Zsasz now quenches his thirst to ‘liberate’ people by not killing innocents but members of the Magistrate’s Peacekeeper Force.
In more ways than one, Arkham Knights have already saved Gotham City. The Magistrate seems hell-bent on trying to turn the entire area into a police state. They want a city where individuality follows the collective benefit in order of preference. The Arkham Knights have proven it is the other way around. The DC Future State is shaping up to be a one of a kind story arc. DC Comics is boldly exploring what no comic book has ever gone before.
In a time where there is no Batman to keep up the good work (well for now at least), it is reassuring to see a group of former super villains trying to do the job of their once greatest nemesis and even excelling at it. It is going to be a truly wild ride.