Arkham City Part 10: Solomon Grumpy

By Shamus
on Mar 30, 2017
Filed under:
Batman

So it’s finally time for Batman to confront Penguin at the end of the Museum. Technically he doesn’t need to do this. He’s rescued Freeze and the clock is still ticking on both his poisoning and Protocol 10. But Penguin has been an enormous pain in the ass and Batman is having trouble staying on-task tonight.

Let’s talk about Penguin’s plan…

Penguin’s Plan

Penguin is standing on a table, on a catwalk, on a pile of ice, on a heap of explosives, on the floor of the lounge, which is above an underground arena that contains Solomon Grundy.

Penguin is standing on a table, on a catwalk, on a pile of ice, on a heap of explosives, on the floor of the lounge, which is above an underground arena that contains Solomon Grundy.

Penguin had a lot of layers of defense between himself and Batman. He had barbed wire fences, waves of goons, guys with guns, a flooded room with a shark (yes really) and high-security electronic gates. Batman defeated them all, because of course he did. This is all fine. I like all of these contingency plans. They’re fun to overcome and they make Penguin seem resourceful.

But once you get into the final room, you get to the part of the game where they threw the writer out of the room and handed control over to the guy in charge of designing boss fights. To explain, let’s imagine the conversation that took place about an hour before Batman arrived…

INT: ICEBERG LOUNGE. NIGHT

This room was once a posh place where rich people could drink and listen to music. Now it’s dilapidated. Penguin is on an elevated platform protruding from the balcony level. He’s caressing Dr. Freeze’s freeze gun and laughing maniacally to himself. A hapless Mook is standing beside him.

Penguin:
Are the defenses ready?

Mook:
Yes sir, Mr. Cobblepot. The electronic gates, the signal jammers, the fifty or so goons, the electrified fencing, the shark, the guys with machine guns, and the ambush with the one-armed Russian. It’s all ready.

Penguin:
Perfect! It’s impossible for Batman to get in here.

Mook:
Yes sir!

Penguin:
Now, when he gets in here, I’ll blast him with this ‘ere ice gun. It’s impossible for him to get to me.

Mook:
Uh…

Penguin:
I’ve got one last job for you. I need you to wire up this platform with explosives.

Mook:
You mean the platform we’re standing on right now? The one you’ll be standing on when Batman attacks?

Penguin:
That’s right, my boy.

Mook:
But… why do you want to be standing on a platform that’s wired to explode?

Penguin:
Because when Batman gets to me…

Mook:
But you said…

Penguin:
…he’s gonna punch me off the platform.

Mook:
Are you sure? What if he doesn’t? Like, sometimes he pounces on you. Or he puts you in this brutal arm lock and shoves you to the ground. Or he kicks your legs out from under you. Or maybe he’ll pelt you unconscious with those Bat-boomerang things. Those little devils really hurt, lemme tell ya. Or maybe he’ll…

(Penguin glares at him angrily.)

Mook:
(Clears throat nervously.) I’m speaking for experience here, sir. The point is, there’s no guarantee he’ll knock you off the platform.

Penguin:
(Takes in a slow, angry breath.)
ANYWAY, like I was sayin’. He’s gonna punch me clean off the platform.

Mook:
If you say so. But still, what good will the explosives do?

Penguin:
Well, Batman’s gonna stay up here.

Mook:
But he could…

Penguin:
Batman’s gonna punch me right off this platform and into the lounge below, and then he’s gonna continue standing up here and make no further efforts to incapacitate me. Then I’ll use this ‘ere detonator. (Penguin pulls a detonator out of hammerspace, clicks the button a few times, and then puts it back.)

Mook:
If he knocks you down below, then won’t you be near the explosives? Won’t the whole thing fall on your head?

Penguin:
Nah. He’s gonna punch me clear of the blast radius. Trust me, bastard’s got a mean swing.

Mook:
You’re telling ME? But what good will it do collapsing the platform? Then he’ll just be down there with you.

Penguin:
No. The platform will fall into the lounge, then go right through the floor and into the basement.

Mook:
This place has a basement?

Penguin:
I dunno what it is, honestly. It’s like a big sealed arena-like chamber with no purpose, and nothing in it.

Mook:
Uh…

Penguin:
Well, nothin’ except that Soloman Grundy guy.

Mook:
If the chamber is sealed then how did…

Penguin:
Don’t talk back! So anyway, when Batman falls into the basement…

Mook:
Can’t he glide? And doesn’t he have that grapnel hook thingy? I don’t think he’ll go in the hole if he doesn’t want to.

Penguin:
Damn it boy, are you questioning me? He’ll go in the hole for sure. After that, the Grundy fellow will make short work of him.

Mook:
If you say so.

Penguin:
So then after Batman beats Grundy, I’m gonna pull a rocket launcher out of me arsehole and jump down there to finish him off.

Mook:
Boss, maybe it’s your ridiculous fake cockney accent, but I’m not sure I heard you right. Did you say you were going to jump down into the hole WITH Batman so you could shoot rockets at him? You know you could keep your elevated position, right? That would be a huge advan-

(Penguin bashes the Mook in the head with the freeze gun.)

Mook:
Oof!

Penguin:
I’ll not have you besmirchin’ me accent. Now go out into the hall and wait for Batman to come along and beat you up again.

Mook:
(Rubbing the side of his head.) Yes sir.

(Fade out.)

Penguin: Ah yes! All my plans are working perfectly!

Penguin: Ah yes! All my plans are working perfectly!

People credit Batman with being relentlessly prescient, but I think credit for inexplicable foresight should go to Penguin in this case. He spent the whole evening standing on top of explosives. He knew how hard Batman would punch him, where he would land, and what Batman would do afterwards. Penguin’s plan would have failed if Batman did literally anything else.

Of course, all of this is just the setup for a very videogame-y boss fight. It turns out Solomon Grundy is lurking in the basement. You can tell not a lot of thought was put into this section aside from, “We need a big set-piece battle to finish off the Penguin storyline.” The (non-interactive) door to Solomon Grundy’s arena isn’t even large enough for him to pass through it, so it’s not even clear how he got in there in the first place.

Even more absurd: When you return to the lounge later, the gaping hole into the basement has mysteriously vanished.

Technoblather

Freeze: You took a long time punching Grundy in the face, so in the meantime I made this little hologram of the cure. What do you think?

Freeze: You took a long time punching Grundy in the face, so in the meantime I made this little hologram of the cure. What do you think?

Once Penguin has been thoroughly punched in the face, Batman returns to Mr. Freeze to get the cure for the Titan Toxin.

I realize that comics have their share of ridiculous techno-babble, but the conversation with Dr. Freeze is so silly it’s painful. He says (roughly) that he has a cure for the toxin, but it breaks down in the host’s bloodstream too fast. It needs a restorative element, but the enzyme needs time to bond to human DNA. This will take decades.

Gah. Just typing that out scorched a few neurons. I know I’m sort of railing against problems that are endemic to comic books, but I can’t help it.

This would have been a lot better if they’d said less. Freeze had a holographic image of the molecule he needs. He just needed to say, “This is what I need, but I don’t know how to synthesize it.” Then Batman could say he’s seen it before, and off we go. The techno-babble here sounds like, “Your car’s exhaust manifold has ruptured. I’ll need special gasoline to repair it, but that gas evaporates instantly at room temperature so we need to use a clock radio to synthesize a new kind of windshield wiper fluid.” Sometimes leaving it unexplained is better, particularly when the answer ends up being, “use an unexplained magical healing fluid” anyway. I’m not asking for hard science. I’m saying if it’s going to be gibberish then don’t bother wasting time over-explaining it.

Ra’s Al Ghul

Ninja: How DARE you mention my master, who I am going to run to right now! Also, please don`t follow the blood trail I`m about to leave.

Ninja: How DARE you mention my master, who I am going to run to right now! Also, please don`t follow the blood trail I`m about to leave.

The thing Batman needs is a sample of blood from longtime nemesis Ra’s Al Ghul. Ra’sIt’s pronounced “Raysh” for reasons that escape me. runs the league of assassinsIn the Christopher Nolan Batman, he was the guy who trained Batman, and was played by Liam Neeson. and is often at odds with Batman because he wants to fight crime via murder. He has this thing called a Lazarus Pit. It’s filled with magical glowing green goop that makes him strong and keeps him young. Basically, the cure that Mr. Freeze invented just happens to need a blood sample from someone who’s been using a Lazarus Pit for centuries.

Ra’s Al Ghul is actually here in Arkham City. He’s living in the ruins of Old Gotham beneath the prison. Unlike the others, he’s not an inmate. He was living down here already when Hugo Strange came along and built a prison on top of him. At this point in the story it seems like a massive contrivance that he just happens to be in town, but later we’ll learn that Strange and Al Ghul are in league. Ra’s is here to keep an eye on Protocol 10.

However, what is a contrivance is the bit where one of the League’s Assassins overhears BatmanShe was being held prisoner by Penguin, and was imprisoned in the same room where all this exposition took place. mention Ra’s Al Ghul, escapes the prison where Penguin had been holding her, and runs off back to her master. This allows Batman to follow her to the place where Ra’s is hiding out. The key to finding the guy popped up one dialog line after he became relevant to the story.

I’m sorry, but that’s just too contrivance-y, even for a comic book. Foreshadow harder next time.

Extra bonus contrivance: Batman phones up Alfred and requests a new gadget. It just so happens that we’re going to need this gadget to get into Ra’sHow do you make this name possessive? It already LOOKS possessive because of that stupid apostrophe. This is a dumb name for a comic book character, since the printed version will be confusing and the proper pronunciation is totally unintuitive. lair. The problem is that Batman has no idea where he’s going yet, which means he has no reason to expect he’s going to need this gizmo.

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Footnotes:

[1] It’s pronounced “Raysh” for reasons that escape me.

[2] In the Christopher Nolan Batman, he was the guy who trained Batman, and was played by Liam Neeson.

[3] She was being held prisoner by Penguin, and was imprisoned in the same room where all this exposition took place.

[4] How do you make this name possessive? It already LOOKS possessive because of that stupid apostrophe. This is a dumb name for a comic book character, since the printed version will be confusing and the proper pronunciation is totally unintuitive.


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2020201777 comments. (Seventy-seven is the smallest positive integer requiring five syllables in English!)

From the Archives:

  1. MadTinkerer says:

    Born On A Mumpy!

    #sorrynotsorry

  2. Durican says:

    The Penguin/Goon conversation killed me! That was comedic gold, and I salute you sir for making this dreary thursday a lot more light-hearted.

    I adore this game and enjoyed the story, but I won’t try to defend those contrivances. They were pretty darn contrived.

  3. Grudgeal says:

    The Ra’s part was when I really gave up. It was just too convenient and the dialogue got too silly, and it’s one reason why I never finished the game. It was the part where the story and setting got too contrived for no reason and I quit shortly after because the gameplay wasn’t good enough (compared to Arkham Asylum) to not just make me want to play the first game again instead.

    Also, Ra’s al Ghul is Arabic (means “Head of the Ghoul (originally a flesh-eating spirit from Arabic folklore)”), which could explain the pronunciation.

    • Will says:

      If Ra’s’s name being Arabic is supposed to explain the pronunciation… well, it doesn’t, at least not according to any romanization I’ve ever heard of. Typically, those letters would all more-or-less correspond to their English phonemes, with the apostrophe indicating a glottal stop, so it’d be pronounced basically as you’d expect from the spelling. (A glottal stop is the thing you do in English at the start of a word that begins with a vowel. It’s not explicitly written, but—unlike some other Arabic phonemes—present in English.)

    • Shoeboxjeddy says:

      I’m surprised you’d say the gameplay of City was worse than Asylum. They made rather huge and obvious improvements to basically every gameplay system for City over Asylum. Certainly I preferred the plot of Asylum, but that’s different.

      And yes, the name is translated in the comics as “The Demon’s Head”. The insistence that this is a silly name strikes me as… not racist but ethnocentric? Like Shamus didn’t understand the etymology of Middle Eastern names and that makes it fair game for joke town? Felt uncomfortable to me to be honest. I get that he was more aiming at the writers (who were white) for choosing that name… but they did it on purpose and it’s a perfect name for what the character is meant to be.

      • Shamus says:

        “etymology of Middle Eastern names and that makes it fair game for joke town?”

        In what way would it NOT be fair game for commentary? I’m not allowed to point out that a name is confusing because it comes from the Middle East? I’m obliged to look up the origin of every name before I’m allowed to comment on it?

        Getting back to my observation: There is NO WAY for a reader to have any clue how they’re supposed to pronounce Ra’s. This character pre-dates the internet by a long way, the pronunciation is completely counter-intuitive, and it was introduced in a printed medium.

        I don’t care where anyone is from or what color they are. The word is unintuitive. I said so. Nobody got hurt.

        • Shoeboxjeddy says:

          I’m not allowed to point out that a name is confusing because it comes from the Middle East?
          Doesn’t that sound like someone making fun of every Asian name because it sounds like Ching Chong to them? This is how Long Duck Dong happened.

          I’m obliged to look up the origin of every name before I’m allowed to comment on it?
          I mean… this is the second Google result. “Ra’s al Ghul, sometimes written Rā’s al Ghūl, is a DC Comics supervillain and an enemy of Batman. His name is Arabic for ‘head of the demon’. ” You aren’t “obliged” to do anything, but you are doing an analysis.

          Getting back to my observation: There is NO WAY for a reader to have any clue how they’re supposed to pronounce Ra’s
          I mean… if they’re not from that area, sure it’s not intuitive. But this is literally ethnocentrism. You haven’t even considered the existence of a different perspective where this is quite a normal name and your shocked dismay comes off as insulting. If you were watching an anime and all the characters started to comment that Shamus was the silliest name and you couldn’t even write it in Kanji and so on wouldn’t that strike you as a bit of an odd nit pick? Like… it’s a name, it’s normal where it comes from. If you’re curious about it, it’s easy to look up. Nothing about a name in and of itself is a joke.

          I don’t think you hurt anyone, but I do think “isn’t this foreign name RIDICULOUS” is a bad look for anybody.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            He is not wrong though.Merely typing out foreign names in your native language without any attempt to make them more readable is stupid.Imagine the reverse,where you are reading arabic,and suddenly in the middle of the non-latin alphabet you find the word “Shamus”,written in latin alphabet.That would be just as stupid,right?

            • Shoeboxjeddy says:

              How is Ra’s made more readable? Maybe I misunderstood what he was getting at. Different punctuation marks? I don’t know that a different spelling would be correct, as it’s not a translation, it’s a person’s name.

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                You could spell it raysh,as Shamus pointed out in the annotation.Or any other way that would make it closer to how its being vocalized.The whole shtick english has about not translating names is stupid.Preserving the pronunciation,that makes sense.But preserving the spelling?Thats bass ackwards.

                • Shoeboxjeddy says:

                  Okay, maybe English is in the wrong there… but that’s how English works. I wouldn’t expect DC comics to suddenly make a daring English usage break from convention for no reason. I actually think using very out there foreign names in literature aimed at kids is a good thing. Why SHOULDN’T kids be exposed to different cultures and such? Are we actually discouraging doing 10 seconds of research on a non-American culture? That’s… a terrible thing to suggest.

                  Meanwhile, the first place I (and probably 90% of the players of this game) encountered the character was in a cartoon, where they pronounced the word. And the writers of this game actually wrote the cartoon… which is why they used this character. Because they liked him a lot from that experience.

                  • Daemian Lucifer says:

                    Writing down a random foreign name the way it is typed in its native language instead of how its pronounced is not how you expose someone to a different culture.Especially in a pre internet era.And no,the “it takes only 10 seconds to google” is not justifiable.Have you ever read a book with a bunch of foreign words in it that has all of them explained in the back?It takes only 10 seconds to look them up,but it ruins the flow of the text immensely.

            • Viktor says:

              There’s a discussion of the correct pronunciation going on down-page. Short version, the letters are fairly close to how it should be said(Ross All-Gul), and there’s no english equivalent for the remaining sounds. You can’t really make it any easier.

          • Daimbert says:

            I don’t think you hurt anyone, but I do think “isn’t this foreign name RIDICULOUS” is a bad look for anybody.

            Shamus’ comment isn’t really that it’s a silly name. His comment is that it’s a bad (he says “dumb”) name for a character in an American comic book, because a) few Americans will have any idea how to pronounce it and b) it interacts badly with standard American English grammar. Yes, taking it from the relevant region and having it be meaningful is nice, but unless it’s a very famous name or title — which I don’t think it is — it’s just going to be confusing and a little more research could find something equally impressive that doesn’t those issues.

            To use your example, it would be like using the name “Shamus” in a Japanese manga, when it can’t be translated into a Kanji. Sure, you COULD do it, but surely there’d be another English name that COULD be translated that would be just as good a name.

          • Shamus says:

            Are you really suggesting I should type in every single bullshit fictional name into Google in case some of them originate in another language?

            “But this is literally ethnocentrism.”

            Yeah. We tend to know more about our own culture than the ones we haven’t lived in. It’s okay. It doesn’t make you a bad person.

            I never said the name was “ridiculous”. I said it was unintuitive. It would be easy to fix. Just spell it like it sounds. “Rayshe”. Happens all the time between different languages. This isn’t something ugly Americans do because they hate those dang foreigners. It’s something human beings do because language is complicated.

            “You haven’t even considered the existence of a different perspective where this is quite a normal name and your shocked dismay comes off as insulting.”

            Shocked dismay? Where? Insulting? You know what’s insulting? You insistence that I seem to have somehow done something wrong. How would “considering a different perspective” solve the problem where this guy gets called “Razzz” because the English-speaking audience of these comics has no way to know the correct pronunciation?

            “but I do think ‘isn’t this foreign name RIDICULOUS’ is a bad look for anybody.”

            You keep acting like I’m making fun of the Middle East for not naming things in English, when I’m obviously commenting on the English-speaking authors and their failure to communicate with the audience. You’re accusing me of “shocked dismay” when it’s clear I adopted no such tone. You’re putting words in my mouth. You are working very hard to be offended about this.

            • Viktor says:

              The name is pronounced Ross, not Rayshe. The writers of the comic who created the character picked a meaningful name from the relevant culture and spelled it like someone from that culture would if they came to the US. The B:TAS VAs mispronounced it, and that mispronunciation has lasted for 25 years. That’s a very interesting discussion that you didn’t touch on because you didn’t look beyond the most superficial interpretation of the situation.

        • Viktor says:

          You’re a reviewer and an analyst. The average Dick Tackle or Sophia Johnson reading comics doesn’t need to be able to pronounce Ra’s, so the fact that they can’t doesn’t matter any more than it’s translation does. It looks legitimately foreign, that’s good enough. Once you start focusing on comics, then you should look up the accurate pronunciation just as part of your basic research, which also reveals how good a name it is in terms of origin and meaning.

          Instead, you saw a foreign name, made an old and tired “foreigners have silly names” joke, and moved on. That’s not the quality I’m used to seeing on this site.

          • Daimbert says:

            The average Dick Tackle or Sophia Johnson reading comics doesn’t need to be able to pronounce Ra’s, so the fact that they can’t doesn’t matter any more than it’s translation does.

            Am I the only person who, when he reads, “hears” the words in his head?

            Also, the average person who wants to talk to other fans of the comics is going to want to say the name of the villain at some point …

            • Viktor says:

              Right, which is the point where someone who reads comics and speaks arabic/has a friend who speaks arabic figures out the correct pronunciation and tells everyone else. That’s how I know how to say it.

              • Shamus says:

                OH. So all a kid in 1971 sees Ra’s in his Batman comic. All he needs to do is:

                1) Somehow recognize that – of all the thousands of languages on Earth – this name is specifically of Arabic origin.
                2) Ask his Arabic friend, which everyone totally has, especially in 1971.

                This is how you end up with a generation of people calling him Razz.

                • Viktor says:

                  1: The character is arabic.
                  2: Or ask a college arabic professor.
                  And once someone has, that info will spread through a network of cons and Fan-zines, because that’s how fandom works. People love to um-actually when they have more information and can look clever.

                  • Shamus says:

                    1. I totally missed the flashing subtitles at the bottom of the screen that said ARABIC CHARACTER whenever Ra’s was on-screen.

                    2. Because if you’re a kid in 1971 and you don’t have an Arabic friend, you SURELY have a college professor buddy who you can ask about names you read in comic books.

                    You’re suggesting that the “correct” pronunciation can spread through a network of cons and zines. The fact that after 46 years “Ross” is still called “Razz” and “Rayshe” indicates this hasn’t worked. Maybe it would be better to provide the audience with the proper pronunciation within the word, which is what written language is supposed to do.

              • Daimbert says:

                Do you think that the average American’s standard comic book group will contain such an individual? And did so in 1971?

                Why would a comic book create a name that would encourage people to do that, when they could just use a name that didn’t have the same issues and worked just as well? Surely there are Arabic names that don’t have those issues …

                • Viktor says:

                  I know multiple people who speak various Middle-eastern languages. One who speaks Chinese. One who speaks Japanese. One who speaks a couple Indian dialects. Dozens who speak Spanish. One who speaks Hebrew. And I’m an introvert who has never left the country. Meet people outside your comfort zone, you’ll be shocked how they broaden your horizons.

                  Also, no, pretty much any time there’s a foreign character(or person) in anything people mispronounce the name despite plenty of chances to get it right. Shamus is just the latest in a long line of people not putting in any effort when it comes to non-“american” names.

                  • Shamus says:

                    Okay. I’ve basically had enough of your sanctimonious bullshit. Using your position of privilege to lecture other people about what subjects they’re allowed to discuss is like a parody of the worst sort of moral scolds. You’re giving a bad name to a good cause. Your arrogance is simply appalling.

                    Thread closed.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      A guy dresses as a bat,so that he could fly around and punch criminals,one of whom is dressed like the literal joker from a playing card,and only at this point did you find the whole thing too silly?

      If you are looking for something not silly,then dont approach anything that has to do with superhero comics.Even watchmen has plethora of silly moments in it.

  4. Matt Downie says:

    The possessive of Ra’s is probably Ra’s’.

    And a ‘fake cockney accent’ is known as ‘mockney’. Not to be confused with ‘mookney’, which is how cockney mooks talk. (Contrary to popular belief, not all cockneys are professional mooks.)

    • MadTinkerer says:

      You have to be careful though: Henry Higgins is a jerk, but he’s right about accents. When I lived in the Greater London Area, after a few years I could identify the neighborhoods where my fellow students lived just by listening to how they spoke. This is because, despite the best efforts of the BBC for 70-ish years, there’s an amazing variety of British English accents that have survived for generations.

      As a result, sometimes a specific cockney accent can sound “fake” compared to the nonexistent “typical” cockney accent, especially if you’re not from the region and don’t know what you’re supposed to compare it to. Also especially if it’s not even a cockney accent but actually a scouser or other regional accent. Also there’s Original Pronunciation and accents that died out before sound recording technology but were preserved in poetry. (Which is how we know that Shakespearean dialogue actually sounded more like American English than Received Pronunciation.)

      Which is a long and roundabout way of saying “mockney” isn’t always “mockney”.

      • MadTinkerer says:

        Gah, it wouldn’t let me edit!

        Well, whatever. Just pretend I said the exact same thing but less pretentious and lecture-y sounding.

      • Matt Downie says:

        I just looked up Arkham City on imdb to make sure Penguin wasn’t played by a genuine cockney. That Nolan North guy has sure been in a lot of stuff. Nathan Drake. The Space Core in Portal 2. Cyclops, Superboy and Kraang in various cartoons…

      • Kylroy says:

        The one example I’ve heard of “Shakespeare as it was spoken” sounded far more Scottish to me than American.

    • Kylroy says:

      Of course not. Sometimes they graduate to safecracker, like in Ocean’s 11.

    • Sean says:

      Also Ra’s’s [raysh-ez] (http://data.grammarbook.com/blog/apostrophes/apostrophes-with-names-ending-in-s-ch-or-z/) which looks really silly.

      Ra’ses [raysh-ez] would be the plural of Ra’s (if, for example, we were dealing with multiple Ra’s clones), and Ra’ses’ [raysh-ez-ez] would be the plural possessive (if we were talking about the clones’s hideout).

  5. GloatingSwine says:

    How do you make this name possessive? It already LOOKS possessive because of that stupid apostrophe. This is a dumb name for a comic book character, since the printed version will be confusing and the proper pronunciation is totally unintuitive.

    You could call him Beta Persei? Maybe Algol?

    Ra’s al-ghul is difficult to use english gramatical rules on because, well, it’s Arabic (quite a lot of names of stars are). It’s actually quite a good name for the character, because of the historical associations of the star which has been a symbol of bad luck and bloody violence since at least the ancient greeks. Plus the actual English translation (Head of the ogre) is usefully sinister for a villain.

    • Vermander says:

      I know it’s incorrect, but I always pronounce it like “Roz”, because they used to say it that way in the animated series.

      I also like “Head of the Demon” more than “Head of the Ghoul” or “Head of the Ogre”. Years of bad fantasy novels and games have taught me to think of demons as sinister, manipulative, otherworldly beings, while ghouls are gross little corpse-eating goblin/zombie things, and ogres are big dumb brutes who hate nerds.

      • Viktor says:

        According to a friend who has studied a few middle eastern languages and has lived in Palestine, Ra’s should actually be pretty close to the english name “Ross”. Al-Ghul uses a sound that no american can actually say, but the way it’s usually pronounced is close enough.

        • Will says:

          My long-ago three semesters of college Arabic concur. In Hans Wehr romanization (the oldest and AFAIK most common romanization, and base of most others), the only characters that *don’t* carry the standard English phoneme in that name are the apostrophe (which indicates a glottal stop) and “gh” (which, as you say, is a sound not present in English—the letter is غ if you want to puzzle through Wikipedia’s IPA).

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          So is “talia” pronounced “emma”?

      • Syal says:

        Some of them say “Roz”, like the Nolanverse, others say “Raysh”, like The Animated Series.

        No one’s ever actually used the correct pronunciation, which is “Ross All-Gull”.

  6. CruelCow says:

    “It turns out Solomon Grundy is lurking in the basement.” contains a link that goes nowhere

  7. Bropocalypse says:

    I mentioned it before, but I like the Grundy fight. Yes, it doesn’t make much sense that it’s there, but it’s pretty spectacular. And they avoided the ‘bullfight boss’ trope they ran into the ground in the previous game.

    • Zekiel says:

      From memory (a rather fuzzy memory) I like all the boss fights in Arkham City. It’s one aspect of the game that is head-and-shoulder above its predecessor, in which the boss fights were about the only weak element.

      One reviewer (can’t recall who) said it felt like the designers had basically trawled through Batman’s villains list to assemble a selection of baddies who could feasibly challenge him.

  8. Bropocalypse says:

    Come to think of it, I think these games would have worked much better if they were episodic. Go into a baddie’s lair, stealth around smacking mooks, and finish it off with a confrontation. Something along the lines of the most recent Hitman game.

    • Matt Downie says:

      Episodic doesn’t mesh very well with open world, which was part of the appeal. Swing around a big section of Gotham featuring vaguely famous locations! Stand on a gargoyle! Swoop down off a tall building and land on a mook! Be unable to walk five feet without tripping over a Riddler puzzle!

  9. Wysinwyg says:

    The character of Ra’s al Ghul originated in the animated series, which might explain your observation that its not a great name for a comic book character. (Harley Quinn also originated in the animated series.)

    • mwchase says:

      I thought Neal Adams came up with him. *wiki*

      Created by editor Julius Schwartz, writer Dennis O’Neil and artist Neal Adams, the character first appeared in Batman #232’s “Daughter of the Demon” (June 1971).

      • Joe Informatico says:

        One of my favourite Batman stories of all time! But I’m partial to James Bond-esque, Denny O’Neil/Neal Adams Bronze Age Batman. He’s probably the comics version of Batman closest in tone to Animated Series Batman: darker and more somber than Silver Age/Adam West/Superfriends Batman, but not as gritty and lurid as 80s Dark Age Batman.

    • Vermander says:

      Ra’s al Ghul has been appearing in comics since 1971, way before the animated series. His animated series incarnation is just a particularly popular version of the character (Like Mr. Freeze).

      • Kylroy says:

        I can’t find it online, but I recall his name was dropped very early in the comics in a throwaway text block devoted to summarizing Batman’s origin (like early ’40s), but he never actually appeared until 1971.

      • Dreadjaws says:

        Actually, this particular backstory for Freeze was created in the animated series. Before he just used to be a thug with a freeze gun.

  10. Vermander says:

    Grundy is one of those “brute” villains whose power level seems to vary depending on who he is fighting. Sometimes he can trade punches with Superman and other times Green Arrow can knock him out.

    And that’s not even counting the whole “multiple resurrections” thing. Sometimes he’s relatively intelligent, sometimes he’s “evil hulk,” and sometimes he’s just a poor dumb brute who wants to be left alone (so regular Hulk).

    I know so much about Grundy because the Justice League animated version is my daughter’s favorite villain, so I have to be him when ever she’s pretending to be Supergirl or Wonder Woman. Turns out throw pillows to the head are apparently his greatest weakness.

    • Daimbert says:

      And that’s not even counting the whole “multiple resurrections” thing. Sometimes he’s relatively intelligent, sometimes he’s “evil hulk,” and sometimes he’s just a poor dumb brute who wants to be left alone (so regular Hulk).

      So, just like the Hulk, then, who moves from “poor dumb brute” to “Joe-Fix It” to completely animalistic to “Banner” and back again. stopping at all points in between.

      • Muspel says:

        Yes, but to be fair, in Grundy’s case it’s more justified, because he explicitly comes back to life, and each incarnation is supposed to be somewhat different.

        There was actually a (very good) Justice League storyline called “The Tornado’s Path” where he came back unusually intelligent, and hatched a plot to make sure he’d never die again, because he didn’t want to go back to being an idiot.

  11. SpaceSjut says:

    This would have been a lot better if they’d said less.

    That is a thing I think SO OFTEN, especially in SciFi contexts…

    • Hal says:

      I realize that comics have their share of ridiculous techno-babble, but the conversation with Dr. Freeze is so silly it’s painful. He says (roughly) that he has a cure for the toxin, but it breaks down in the host’s bloodstream too fast. It needs a restorative element, but the enzyme needs time to bond to human DNA. This will take decades.

      I can never tell if this is the result of writers who have sufficient science knowledge and assume the their audience won’t know the difference, or writers who have insufficient knowledge and don’t realize their babble makes no sense.

      Like, it would have taken them maybe 10 minutes of talking to an expert in pharmacokinetics to sort this out. I guarantee you there’s someone out there who’d do it just for a credit in the game. Now you have your technobabble, and it won’t make actual scientists want to light you on fire.

  12. Urthman says:

    He was living down here already when Hugo Strange came along and built a prison on top of him. At this point in the story it seems like a massive contrivance that he just happens to be in town

    And yet nowhere nearly as contrived as Arkham Asylum’s “Oh, I should stop by the spare Batcave I built on this island under the prison for the criminally insane.”

    • Viktor says:

      See, I’d argue that Batman having a full stash of gear and investigative equipment as close as possible to the prison villains constantly break out of is pretty reasonable. If nothing else, it cuts down on his commute.

    • Hal says:

      A single facility that houses all of Batman’s most dangerous foes? Which practically has a revolving door on the cells?

      Frankly, I’d find it unbelievable that Batman didn’t have a base of operations established on the island.

      • galacticplumber says:

        As a matter of fact, assuming his first is at Wayne manor, I think we can all agree if only one more is happening it’s happening RIGHT THERE and nowhere else.

  13. Erathia says:

    The assassin is there to be foreshadowed if you explore the Penguin’s cases. It establishes that his men caught her lurking around, and she was captured but has so far refused to talk. Batman still holds this conversation in earshot of her, but if he’s aware of her presence I saw it as Batman tricking her into running back to Ra’s.

    • Jabrwock says:

      That was how I saw it, she was clearly waiting for something when I examined the cases on the way through.

      Although that something appears to be Batman mentioning her boss… so still contrived.

  14. Daemian Lucifer says:

    He says (roughly) that he has a cure for the toxin, but it breaks down in the host’s bloodstream too fast. It needs a restorative element, but the enzyme needs time to bond to human DNA. This will take decades.

    Thats not as silly as it sounds.Well,except the dna part.But roughly,it translates to “This thing degrades in blood,so we need a way to keep it whole until it enters the cells”.

    The dna part too couldve worked if this wasnt a toxin but a disease.In fact….Now that I think about it,the cure might actually be a virus.Yes,that would make sense.The cure isnt just some random compound,its a virus that rewrites certain human cells(probably liver) to clear out the poison,but in order to do its job it needs time to survive the attack of the hosts white cells.

    There,problem solved.And its not much of a stretch either.Because technically,stuff like that is already being done in actual medicine.

  15. Daemian Lucifer says:

    However, what is a contrivance is the bit where one of the League’s Assassins overhears Batman[3] mention Ra’s Al Ghul, escapes the prison where Penguin had been holding her, and runs off back to her master. This allows Batman to follow her to the place where Ra’s is hiding out. The key to finding the guy popped up one dialog line after he became relevant to the story.

    Except its a contrivance only if you accept that ra’s does not want batman to find him.However,ra’s does not want to defeat batman,but to convert him.So its not impossible to infer that ra’s actually wanted batman to find him,and send a bunch of ninja to get caught in various places waiting for bats to find a reason to search for ra’s.

    • Jabrwock says:

      Except we don’t see ninjas trapped or even hanging around in any other place prior to that. So either the rest were just hanging around in the dark waiting for an opportunity to drop a clue and draw Batman back to Ra’s, and this one figured getting captured and held in a glass case on the off-chance Batman drops by specifically looking for Ra’s was a good use of her time…

      Or she was put there so Batman gets a clue trail to follow after he realizes he needs to find Ra’s.

      Remember, she doesn’t react to Batman UNTIL he mentions he needs to find Ra’s. At that point she goes “oh I’m totally escaping to tell Ra’s about this, don’t you dare follow me! *knowwhatImean*”

  16. Decius says:

    The possessive form of “Ra’s al Ghul” is “al Ghul’s”, not “Ra’s'” or any variant thereof.

    The plural of course is “Ra’ses al Ghul” and the plural possessive is “Ra’ses al Ghul’s”. That becomes important in split universes where Batsman have to use Alfreds’ gadgets’ special features to target Ra’ses al Ghul’s minions’ secret techniques’ weakness.

  17. CPhlebas says:

    again calling back to No Man’s Land, specifically the novelization which is very entertaining and HAS a mook character who REPEATEDLY signs up to ALL the supervillains, each time resigning himself to having his arm broken by Batman after he gives it his best try, before finally *spoiler* being killed by the Joker.

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