WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Detective Comics #1003 by Peter J. Tomasi, Brad Walker, Andrew Hennessy, Nathan Fairbarn and Rob Leigh, in stores now.
Since DC announced Arkham Knight was coming to the comics, fans have been wracking their brains to figure out the character's true identity. Jason Todd -- the Arkham Knight from the video game -- was easy to rule out as he's busy taking over Penguin's criminal empire. Another theory suggested it might be a time-displaced Tim Drake, reinventing himself following his last defeat. And then there was the thinking that it might be one of the Damian Wayne clones created by his mother, Talia al Ghul.
However, the veil (or in this case, the armored mask) has finally been lifted -- and it's actually not even a man. It turns out this Arkham Knight is a totally new character, and the daughter of Jeremiah Arkham, Astrid.
As Bruce tears through Gotham looking for his kidnapped son following the events of last issue, Astrid unmasks very nonchalantly in an attempt to build Damian's trust.
Without revealing her name to the young vigilante, she tells him her goal is to remove the darkness of Batman from Gotham City, thus eliminating the essence of corruption it has been steeped in. Astric instructs her legion, the Knights of the Sun, not to harm the boy and surprisingly allows him to leave, telling him they should join forces as they're on the same side.
Bewildered, Damian departs, and when he rendezvous with his father, the pair find themselves stymied; they're able to find any trace of the woman, despite the young Robin's rather detailed and accurate sketch. She's off-grid, a ghost in the world. Eventually, they track Astrid back to her lair, which happens to be under Arkham Asylum. However, when they get there, the duo is ambushed by none other than the head administrator of the madhouse, Jeremiah Arkham, who reveals the Knight is his daughter, and she's obsessed with breaking the Batman's symbol. Most importantly, her followers are intent on following her to the ends of the Earth.
Now, while Astrid appears to be a leader with a political agenda and silver tongue, so much so these people are following her blindly, she does have a bunch of prisoners at her disposal, including the Mad Hatter. We don't know if she's using abilities like his to build her army, or if she's tapped into a true vein of loyalty to form her army.
As Astrid is a brand-new character, we have to look to Jeremiah for clues regarding her behavior and obsessions. He's had quite a journey in the DC Universe, inheriting the asylum from Amadeus Arkham, and going on to run the place. But he's had a few mental breakdowns as well, which at one point resulted in him becoming the Black Mask.
During his bout with insanity, Jeremiah had relationships with another administrator in Alyce Sinner, as well as Penguin's former scientist, Fright, pegging them as suspects to be Astrid's mother. But until more comes to light, this reveal raises more questions than it answers. In an era of electronic records, surveillance and social media, how is she so invisible? When did Jeremiah and her mother have her, and how did he lose control? Last but not least, who trained her to basically be Batman's equivalent? Her fighting skills are on par with Talia al Ghul, so Jeremiah better spill the beans quickly, because Astrid is on the warpath. And as someone with a blank slate, the Caped Crusader's finally facing a genuinely unpredictable opponent with very bad designs on his life.
Detective Comics #1004 goes on sale May 22.