Sunday, December 6, 2015

Speech Bubbles and Caption Boxes - Arkham Knight Genesis #2

WARNING: This post contains spoilers from Arkham Knight Genesis 2.

            Taking place before the final video game of the Arkham franchise, the Arkham Knight series follows the villain on his journey to overtake Gotham from the hands of his arch-nemesis, the Batman,(of which the Knight has a psychological fixation on). It was Carrier who mentioned the significance of speech bubbles in the comics form, noting the way words in speech balloons function much like the interior monologue in the novel--speech in any language, real or made up, can be attributed to depicted characters. We see how identifying speech bubbles in Arkham Knight work to represent certain characters, and how they would sound in real life. The speech bubble closes the gap between image and word, giving the reader more information to the comic.

Normal dialogue, as depicted in the first three panels, does not cue anything other than speech between Deathstroke and the Arkham Knight. However, something interesting happens in the first panel on the third tier that makes us reconsider what came before. The perspective is shifted from the Arkham Knight to then Deathstroke, where the words of the Arkham Knight now appear in blue speech bubbles with a much more straight-edge, rectangular shape bubbles. Audiences will read speech bubbles differently due to the fact, and it gives the Arkham Knight a robotic-type voice, very similar to the one heard in the game. Other than the obvious visual cues and reveal of who the character of the Arkham Knight is; if readers didn't see who was under the mask, it might be assumed that this character was indeed a robot. The effect of this is to humanize this character of the Arkham Knight to us, to show us what is under the costume; whereas the rest of the characters in the novel only see robotic-type, ruthless super-villain.

The creators of this comic also use boxes that almost appear to be like ripped out pieces of paper for the caption boxes of the comic. These boxes are the inner monologue of the Arkham Knight himself, and choosing the caption boxes to appear like pieces of paper ripped from a book hints that this comic is indeed meant to be the story of how the Arkham Knight came to be—and the ripped pieces of the page could signify the hardships the character has faced. We expect this kind of meaning from comics, according to Carrier, because we expect every picture element to contribute to the meaning of the image, and so read words within the frame as represented elements. This is definitely the case for Arkham Knight, wherein the reader is rewarded for viewing what is simply beyond the surface of the comic.

Written by: Alyssa Litynesky.

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