(Titan Books, �16.99)

THERE are an increasing number of graphic novels available which are based on video games, fleshing out the protagonists and their worlds with added depth. But this is probably the only example of a comics character inspiring a game which has led to a graphic novel bridging the gap between it and its sequel.

In the wake of the hit game Arkham Asylum and his defeat of a drug-charged Joker, Batman faces a new challenge in the form of new Gotham mayor Quincy Sharp, formerly the madhouse’s warden and now enjoying political power following the Dark Knight’s triumphant quashing of the asylum revolt.

A derelict section of Gotham has been walled off from the rest of the city, populated with the inmates from Arkham Asylum and Blackgate Prison, and patrolled by Sharp’s ruthless Tyger security personnel. Inside this breeding ground for disaster, Batman’s assorted enemies are vying for control, desperate to seize territory within the super prison and wipe out their adversaries.

This spin-off story explains how Sharp is being manipulated by the machiavellian psychiatrist Dr Hugo Strange, who has deduced Batman’s true identity and intends to use the information to crush him, thus achieving a form of twisted immortality through his achievements.

It also introduces some of the alternative versions of Batman’s friends and foes who feature in the game series, some of whom are notably different from their comics counterparts, including Robin, Catwoman, the Penguin, the Riddler and Two-Face, and sets up events which will unfold in the game itself.

Written by long-term Bat-scribe Paul Dini (Batman: The Animated Series), and ably illustrated by Carlos D’Anda, this is a perfect companion to the video game, and although it probably doesn’t stand alone as a graphic novel in its own right, offers a valuable insight into the world of Arkham City.