SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Detective Comics #1004, by Peter J. Tomasi, Brad Walker, Andrew Hennessy, Nathan Fairbairn and Rob Leigh, on sale now.
In the landmark 1,000th issue of Detective Comics, DC brought the Arkham Knight into its main comic book continuity. Of course, this wasn’t the same Arkham Knight fans first met in the Rocksteady video game, who turned out to be Jason Todd; as we learned in Issue #1003, the new Arkham Knight is actually Astrid Arkham, the daughter of Arkham Asylum’s head doctor Jeremiah.
Now, in Detective Comics #1004, the reason for her crusade is finally explained, and it all ties back to Batman and The Joker.
While interrogating Jeremiah, Batman learns the doctor once fell in love with an Arkham physician named Ingrid Karlsson. Before long, the two of them were married and they conceived a child, but not even a pregnancy could interfere with Ingrid’s dedication to her patients.
Unfortunately, with Arkham being… well, Arkham, a riot broke out and a number of Gotham’s most notorious rogues escaped from their cells. To make matters worse, Ingrid went into labor amidst the chaos. Batman, of course, was already on the scene trying to put a pin in the pandemonium, but even the World’s Greatest Detective couldn’t have predicted what would happen next.
Much to the surprise of Jeremiah, a team consisting of Clayface, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Solomon Grundy and The Joker helped Ingrid deliver her baby. However, while she cradled baby Astrid in her arms, a Batarang flew straight into Ingrid’s neck, piercing her jugular vein and causing her to bleed out.
It wasn’t Batman who threw it, though; it was one of the new Arkham patients who happened to have found the Batarang lying on the ground during the riot, prompting Grundy to crush the inmate’s head with his bare hands.
It didn’t matter, though. Ingrid was dead and Jeremiah was a single father. And while he did his best to raise Astrid on his own while working in the asylum, he wasn’t able to prevent her from forming a bond with some of Arkham’s most insane criminals over the years -- including her Uncle Joker.
This, coupled with her discovery of surveillance footage from the night her mother was murdered that simply showed Batman pummeling inmates and her mother with a Batarang sticking out of her neck, is what fueled Astrid’s hate for the Dark Knight (not to mention Jeremiah lying to his daughter). More importantly, though, it’s what motivated her to don a suit of armor and become the Arkham Knight.
Now that Batman knows the truth, one can’t help but wonder if he’ll try to reason with Astrid and explain what really happened that night at Arkham Asylum. Then again, the Arkham Knight very well may be far past the point of reason.