Batman’s new foe, Peacekeeper-01, is the ultimate Arkham Knight – and the embodiment of the dark legacy of Arkham Asylum for Gotham City.
This article contains spoilers for Batman # 110.
In DC Comics, Batman faces a terrifying new threat, Peacekeeper-01, who is the true “Arkham Knight”. The shadow of Arkham Asylum has always hung over Gotham City. In theory, Arkham’s doctors are working to rehabilitate its inmates. In reality, very few Arkham patients seem to be recovering, instead of falling into deeper and deeper insanity.
But Arkham Asylum was recently destroyed, inundated with a silent version of the Joker toxin that has killed countless guards and inmates, including Bane, one of Batman’s most dangerous enemies. It’s called A-Day, and in the aftermath of this terrorist attack, the atmosphere around Gotham was dominated by fear. Attacks by villainous criminals like the Joker are clearly escalating, and voters have elected a mayor on an anti-vigilante ticket to try to regain control. Mayor Nakano is teaming up with tech mogul Simon Saint on a new peacekeeping initiative, but he has no idea Saint is manipulating him – and is responsible for further terrorist attacks.
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Batman # 110, by James Tynion IV and Jorge Jimenez, finally reveals the story of Saint’s first recruit on his initiative – Peacekeeper-01, who has previously been seen dominating Gotham’s future in DC’s Future state comics. Sean Mahoney is an Arkham Guard who survived the ravages and became the hero of A-Day. He is ruthless and violent, happy to participate in Saint’s criminal activities, and his physical abilities have now been enhanced using the best technology available. Incredibly, in his first battle with Batman, he occupies the Dark Knight for over 18 minutes, his computer systems analyzing Batman’s fighting style to identify future weaknesses.
Gotham’s future fascist nightmare is the ultimate Arkham Knight, the embodiment of the Asylum Legacy. And here’s the irony; it turns out that Peacekeeper-01 is not a hero, but rather a violent sadist whose records were erased when the asylum was destroyed, allowing him to reinvent himself. Mahoney is a perfect testament to Arkham’s madness and mismanagement, because, according to Harley Quinn, he has been mistreating inmates for years – and yet always remained employed there. She recalls that he had been in constant trouble with Dr Arkham, but the fact remains that he remained employed until day A. The mismanagement of his asylum by Dr Arkham ultimately triggered the biggest threat to which Gotham will never face, given Future state unveiled a future timeline in which Saint’s peacekeepers turned Gotham City into a fascist state.
What would have happened to Gotham if Arkham Asylum had never been founded, or maybe someone a little more competent had taken over? This might be the only timeline in which Batman’s mission doesn’t become a failure, as there would be more to the city than a brooding vigilante and a failing institution. Sadly, that’s not the timeline readers see, and it remains to be seen whether Batman can save the day this time.
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