Now that Batman knows the identity of the Arkham Knight, the secret origin of Astrid Arkham is revealed. Spoilers for Detective Comics No. 1004 follow.
With Batman and Robin being told by Jeremiah Arkham that, in truth, the Arkham Knight is his daughter, Astrid. Jeremiah begins to recount the tragic story as to what led Astrid to go down the path that led her to becoming the Arkham Knight.
His story begins as one of love, where he meets a new doctor at Arkham Asylum named Ingrid Karlsson. Her demeanor and kind, leveled treatment of patients, basically unheard of in the Asylum and in Gotham, was intoxicating for him, which led him to spark a romance with Ingrid. Eventually, the two got married, and Ingrid became pregnant, but remained working at the Asylum.
One day though, while nearly due with her pregnancy, a riot breaks out causing Ingrid to prematurely go into labor. To Jeremiah’s shock though, the inmates, such as Poison Ivy, Joker, Harley Quinn, Clayface, and Solomon Grundy, help her through the birth and protect her from the inmates, simply because of the respect she had earned by her treatment of them. Sadly though, soon after giving birth, a Batarang, which was presumably left by Batman in his attempt to stop the riot, is thrown into her neck by an inmate, and she’s killed, leaving Jeremiah to raise Astrid alone.
Image by DC Comics/Art by Brad Walker
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Because of his fear for her safety, Jeremiah raises Astrid within the confines of his wing of the Asylum, but she learned her way around very quickly, striking up relationships with the inmates. So instead of seeing her friends as the villains, she saw Batman as the villain. Eventually, she learns a portion of the truth as to why her mother wasn’t in her life, but didn’t learn that it wasn’t Batman who threw the Batarang, thus leading her on her quest as the Arkham Knight.
Peter J. Tomasi and Brad Walker may have crafted one of the best modern villain origin stories in some time with this issue. It’s tragic, and the villain is portrayed as all too similar to Batman, just with a different moral compass, like many of his villains have. But the way the story is told is fantastic and the twists are incredible. This issue is simultaneously saddening to read, while also beautiful to look at thanks to Walker making the story look as a stylized children’s book that one may inherit from their parents.
Detective Comics No. 1004 provides one of the best villain origin stories in recent memory and takes a rather lackluster character made for other media and makes them a tragic, three-dimensional character in comics.