We don't want to ruin any of the surprises in the new Batman: Arkham Origins and Batman: Arkham Origins: Blackgate games today — not if you don't want to be spoiled. But if you do want to know about the very exciting future of the franchise that both games are teasing, keep reading. That was a spoiler warning. Got it? Ready?
You're still here. You want to know. I don't blame you. Now I hope you weren't expecting me to say that Superman shows up or something.
I didn't see him.
But this is who I did see:
Some of you will be shrugging your shoulders.
Some of you will be perplexed.
But some of you will have just gasped and let out a cheer. (Me too!) One of the coolest teams in the history of DC Comics has entered the universe of the Batman Arkham games and that is nothing but good news.
The Suicide Squad is a team of c-list super-villains assembled by the U.S. government to go on secret, suicidal missions. The clandestine group is run by a hardass government agent named Amanda Waller and, in many incarnations of the team, field ops are overseen by the troubled Rick Flag. The rest of the team has usually been composed of villains: Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, Bronze Tiger, Enchantress, Count Vertigo and dozens more. More recently, a rebooted team for DC's New 52 comics has also featured Harley Quinn, the crazed woman who loves the Joker and who, conveniently, has been in the Arkham games.
The Suicide Squad debuted in the late 1980s in a series of the same name. That original run by writer John Ostrander is one of the legendary comics runs of the time and remains a cult favourite for fans and, apparently, many comics creators. Ostrander's series was deliciously tense. Anyone could die in any issue. Anyone could stab their teammate in the back. And yet bonds were formed, some awful people were redeemed and a slew of characters that no one had cared about before were shown to have a depth that made them unforgettable. It's no wonder that DC brings the Squad back all the time.
So how exactly does the Squad show up in the new games?
In Batman: Arkham Origins, the console and PC game, Amanda Waller approaches the mercenary Deathstroke and says she's got a job for him. A nice tease, sure, but there's more.
In Batman: Arkham Origins: Blackgate Waller is overheard in several cutscenes giving orders to government agents and discussing what's happening in the prison where the game takes place. It's strongly hinted that Waller either orchestrated the uprising in the prison or at least was in command of one of the main characters involved in the game's storyline.
About a third of the way into Blackgate, Batman has to fight an inmate — specifically, Bronze Tiger. In a cut scene, Waller talks about how impressed she was with Bronze Tiger.
Later, Batman fights Deadshot. Same deal. We hear Waller talking about how her team could use a marksman like that for some job.
There are four different cutscenes involving Waller and members of the squad. The final one, which plays at the game's conclusion, finally reveals and names Waller and features her, Flag, Bronze Tiger and Deadshot flying away in a helicopter. "You see degenerates," she says to Flag while acknowledging the other two, "I see soldiers." The chopper flies away. We see that there's a Bat-tracker on it. The Dark Knight is going to catch them.
No one involved in the Arkham games has acknowledged that there will be a sequel that features the Suicide Squad, but DC's chief creative officer hasn't exactly hid the fact that the company has been working on a Squad game for a while. In February, 2012, our Evan Narcisse reported the following:
Johns is most excited about another game in development from the media company. "We're working onSuicide Squad; it's in development right now," he divulges. The team book where supervillains take on ultra-dangerous government espionage missions that they're not expected to come back from is on the DC Entertainment slate as both a movie and a video game. "I'm really super excited about it. Because of the concept, you have a game where any of the lead characters can conceivably die and it's not a stunt. Some really cool story could come out of that."
It wasn't clear there that there'd be a Batman/Arkham connection, and maybe there ultimately won't be much of one. Today's games, however, hint that there could be one, and why not? Batman's fought all of his most notorious villains multiple times in Arkham Asylum/City/Origins/Blackgate. He needs some fresh opposition. Going against the Squad would allow the game's creators to stuff a new game with a new cast of rogues. The Squad concept would also allow DC and the game makers to pit Batman against the government. And given that the Squad has historically gone on missions all around the world, a Batman vs. Suicide Squad game could take place anywhere. This is the kind of shake-up that the series, which has begun repeating itself, could use.
For now, if you haven't read Suicide Squad, I recommend you track down the original issues. You can download them on Comixology. Highly, highly encouraged!