Batman has a new Arkham Knight to face in the world of DC Comics, and this version has the potential to be a greater (and most importantly more interesting) villain than the original. The Arkham Knight was first introduced in his own subtitled video game, 2015's Batman: Arkham Knight. The conclusion to a trilogy began in 2009's Arkham Aslyum and the last major entry in the Batman: Arkham franchise, Knight came with a very specific promise. Unlike previous Arkham games which pulled from Batman's history and adapted classic villains, Arkham Knight was going to introduce a brand new original. And the Knight's true identity was the mystery fans obsessed over.
All that speculation came to a bit of a bust when it was revealed that the Arkham Knight wasn't so much a 'new' character, but an old one re-imagined. Instead of being a brand new addition to the Bat mythos, Arkham Knight turned out to be Batman's former resurrected Robin, the on-and-off villain and ally Jason Todd a.k.a. the Red Hood. Thankfully in the landmark comic Detective Comics #1000 a new Arkham Knight has graced the pages of DC Comics and he (or she) seems like they'll finally live up to the promise of the video game.
The last few pages of Detective Comics #1000 is an extended introduction to the new Arkham Knight. Their full identity is left a mystery, but Detective Comics #1000 does reveal the pathology of the Arkham Knight and their personal vendetta against Batman. The Arkham Knight believes that Batman is an ineffective and far too violent solution to crime in Gotham City.
In their view, Batman treats all criminals with the same violent hand and his unflinching stance on crime is actually making Gotham worse and more chaotic. Gotham City doesn't need a dark knight raining vengeance... it needs a more benevolent power. An Arkham Knight, and the true savior of Gotham.
In broad strokes this methodology isn't radically different from the Jason Todd version of the Arkham Knight. In his video game debut, the antagonist gave several long speeches about the fallacies of Batman, and his belief that he could do Batman's job better. But it was ultimately revealed that this anti-Batman stance was due to Jason's own complicated history with Batman, and his intensely personal feelings of abandonment. The original Arkham Knight didn't truly believe Batman was in the wrong. He was just jilted by Bruce Wayne, which resulted in him eventually becoming the Red Hood and helping Batman during the game's final mission.
DC has claimed that the new Arkham Knight isn't Jason Todd. Whether they eventually become Batman's ally, have a personal past with the hero, or a brand new origin, this Arkham Knight doesn't have the same hang-ups as Jason. Readers can therefore assume that the rhetoric he spouts about Batman being "a cancer" on the city that needs to be cured is the new Arkham Knight's genuine belief. There are plenty of rogues in Batman's gallery but few, if any, believe that they are truly the hero of the story. The Joker is mayhem personified, Bane wants to prove he can break the Batman, Penguin is just a crime lord, and so on.
The Arkham Knight is a new breed of villain for the caped crusader. He doesn't want to ruin Gotham City but "save" it. If approached correctly the Arkham Knight can confront and even challenge some of the flaws of Batman's character. The moral and intellectual challenge the new Arkham Knight poses could not only make him better than the original, but potentially vault him to the top of Batman's best villains.
Detective Comics #1000 is available now from DC Comics.