Batman: Arkham Knight – The Riddler’s Gambit Review

This is squarely within the wheel house of the types of novels I have always loved the most, direct prequels/tie-ins to franchises I love, and not just franchises I love, but specific versions or installments of the franchises I dig the most.
The Arkham game series might actually be my second favorite version of Batman, the main Rocksteady games (I, sadly, never played Origins) were groundbreaking and breathtakingly perfect games, the Arkham City prequel comic was fun as hell!

So a prequel novel to the 3rd game!?
How could I pass that up?
But I’m not going to pretend every single prequel novel I’ve read has been great.
Where does this stack up?
I’m gonna slip in to Detective mode and attempt to figure that out, gang!

As always, this is your mondo mega ***SPOILER ALERT*** so act accordingly.

The Joker is dead and in the months since his cremation a quiet has settled in on this toxic town and a power vacuum has emerged.
One man decides to step up and try to fill that void in the only way he knows how, through a test of problem solving abilities and the most circuitous route that man or beast could possibly dream up.
Batman is called in when an envelope comes through the GCPD mail room allegedly from The Joker containing a flash drive which kicks off a deadly game that sees some of Gotham’s most sinister villians teaming up with a maniacal menace to take on the Bat Family.
In short, Andy McElfresh’s favorite bat villain, The Riddler, tries to fill those green and twisted dress shoes.

Alex Irvine wrote the Iron Man 2 novelization, as well as original Iron Man & Ultimates novels and a Batman novel titled Inferno, all of which I’ve read and loved.
So, going into this, I wasn’t worried at all about his ability to handle these characters and this world.
But having said that, goddamn it!
He fuckin’ nailed this one seven ways to Sunday.
The relationships are spot on, I’d say most especially Batman & Commissioner Gordon’s semi-antagonistic, yet mutually beneficial partnership.
Gordon knows that the Bat is definitely the best at what he does, but running against that is the fact that Batsy is an outlaw vigilante.
Watching Gordon struggle with saving lives, but getting the best results for the citizens of Gotham is perfect, and that’s all due to Irvine’s expert handling.

A good portion of the villains you want to see are involved, one way or another, in Riddler’s intricately plotted game, showing once again why Batman has one of the top two greatest rogues galleries in all of fiction.
From Harley Quinn, to Mr. Freeze & Killer Croc, The Mad Hatter, Deadshot, and even Ra’s Al Ghul has a small part to play.
They’re all layered in well and nobody feels like they are jammed in just to have another recognizable name.

As much as I love all of the Bat Family action, my absolute favorite part of this book is that it is interspersed with news reports and articles that help fill in and move the scope of the plot forward in a satisfying and easy to read way.
And having some of the most well known names in reporting from the Bat-verse adds just that perfect extra layer of in universe detail to make it feel like a lived in universe.
Particularly, Vicki Vale getting sucked in to Riddler’s game helps sell the danger to the citizens of Gotham.

The bottom line is this, gang, this novel does set up Arkham Knight pretty damn well.
Getting inside of Batman’s head, post Arkham City, sets up his spiraling mental state in that game in small but impactful ways that startle and unsettle The Dark Knight.
Seeing him have, process, and battle certain inherited tendencies and impulses (if you know the game, you know what that means) is interesting and puts his mastery of his own mind on full display.
All of his relationships are detailed and explained well enough for even the most casual of fans to understand and feel the weight of, his worries and fears get explored deeply enough to make you realize the burden this character carries through every decision and move he makes.

If you love this character no matter what iteration it is, you’re sure to dig this.
But if you are a mega fan of the Arkham games, but you weren’t sure about this tie-in, you definitely should dive in.
It’s a great bridge story that makes for a nice revisit to this particularly demented and grimy continuity.

Let us what you think of this review in the comments below or share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her continued editorial assistance.

The Nerd Blitz Question Of The Week #83

We’re back for yet another installment of America’s longest running weeky nerdy question written by us! Are you read for all of those undulating waves of nerdery to slam into you with the power of a thousand tsunami? Then let’s dive in, gang.

This week’s topic, given a recent amount of pure speculation, has us going back to Marvel and wondering what your thoughts are on the following: Should Tony Stark stay dead in the MCU?

Leave your answer down in the comments below or tweet it over to us on the Twitter @NerdBlitzPod or by using the hashtag #TNBQotW

Special thanks goes out to the good sir @SteBoost for creating our eye catchingly sexified QotW logo.

Iron Man: And Call My Killer…MODOK! Review

I’m just gonna put this right at the top: if you are picking this up expecting the cocky Robert Downey jr. version of Tony Stark from the MCU, you will be disappointed.
With that out of the way, one of the things that’s most interesting to examine in this, and most of these older novels, are the changes that have happened since these novels dropped and become fundamental pieces of the characters.
So let’s dive in deep and see what some of them are, gang.

As per usual, this is your official ***SPOILER ALERT***

With only 189 pages, it’s not a convoluted story, and that’s a good thing.
After an attempted kidnapping at a college speaking gig and a robbery that stole the Iron Man blue prints from Stark International headquarters, Tony decides to sell an unarmed, stripped down version of the red and gold armor to the highest bidder.
The behemoth man monster MODOK, running low on funds and credibility for his ner-do-well organization AIM, concocted the nefarious plots against Stark and his alter-ego to get the suit and carry out more villainous operations to take over the world.

One of the biggest changes that have come down the pike that may stun folks would have to be the marriage of Happy & Pepper.
That’s right, gang, 40 years ago they were happily hitched!
That’s something I knew and forgot, and when I read it I damn near unloaded a entire house worth of bricks in my undies.
Even in the comics, as far back as I have been reading the funny books, Tony & Pepper had been circling each other.
The other big difference MCU fans will immediately notice is that Tony is still in the super closet as he’s told the world Iron Man is just a bodyguard of his.
So kickin’ back into that mindset is fun and (as I touched on in my Incredible Hulk: Stalker From The Stars Review) that’s really key to this particular series of Marvel novels.

Are they in depth & revelatory character studies that get to the heart of the human condition?
Fuuuuck no, man!
Are they fun, full of thrilling comic booky adventure, excitement, characters, & hints at continuity?
100%, hell yes.
And you don’t need to have read 500 issues to understand either, Tony’s origin is given a refresher here for 2 probable reasons.
1. To make sure you understand where this specific version of the character is coming from.
2. To hook in people who may have never read a comic and make it easy to dive in and get a good feel for this world.
And it works perfectly.

As I sort of said in my Hulk review, this is what comic books and comic book based stories should be, gang.
You don’t need to always juggle 427 characters, tie-in issues, and story threads.
Sometimes, just a simple story of a hero and a villian covers all your bases and scratches the itch.
Simple and effective is what made these characters stand out, and that’s what I want to see again.
This series of novels are exactly what I want, and I can’t wait to find more of them.

Let us what you think of this review in the comments below or share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her editorial assistance.

The Nerd Blitz Question Of The Week #57

It’s The Nerd Blitz Question Of The Week’s Birthday, we turn 57 weeks old today.
And we haven’t even started to sag in all of those places that make us unappealing to the youth.
Alright, enough of that wacky nonsense, let’s do this!

This week, to tie-in with the brand new ep of TNB Commentaries (Listen Here) we want to know: What is your favorite Jeff Bridges movie?

Leave your answer down in the comments below or tweet it over to us on the Twitter by using the hashtag #TNBQotW

Special thanks goes out to the good sir@SteBoost for creating our eye catchingly sexified QotW logo.

Episode 077.5: We’re In The Endgame Now…

51le5tubqwl.jpgIn this episode, the fellas make their long awaited return to the theater to assemble and avenge their fallen heroes and fallen friends from last year!

***Spoilers*** abound as they answer a listener question from @steboost before and after they see Marvel’s magnum opus, Avengers: Endgame, they interact with YOU, the listening audience, live on Periscope.

Doom’s an unnecessary asshole (surprise surprise), Fitz is potentially stroking out in a big bad way, and they give their reactions to this lengthy and spectacular movie, so buckle up for the ride along, gang!

 

URL: Episode 077.5: We’Re In The Endgame Now…
Direct Download: tnb077_5.mp3

This has been a feature of TS-D/JA Productions and JJ2E Media 2019

The Nerd Blitz Question Of The Week #36

36 weeks, 36 questions!
Time to get answering.

This week we want to know: Who do you think will die permanently in Avengers Endgame?

Leave your answer down in the comments or on Twitter with the hashtag #TNBQotW

Special thanks to @SteBoost for our QotW logo.

The Nerd Blitz Question Of The Week #17

You know what today means, gang.
Question time!

After yesterday’s loss, this week’s Question is: Other Than Spider-Man, Which Of Stan Lee’s Creations Had The Most Impact On You?

Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter with the hashtag #TNBQotW.

Special thanks to @SteBoost for our QotW logo.