Dan Watters and Dani’s Arkham City: Order of the World #1 gives readers a chilling reminder that the ratcatcher is a truly frightening figure.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Arkham City: The Order of the World #1, available now from DC Comics.
James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad gave audiences a tragic, but heartwarming version of the Ratcatcher. While Ratcatcher 2, played by Daniela Melchior, had a considerably larger role in the movie, Taika Waititi’s performance as her father whose addiction and life of crime shaped his daughter’s life, was one of the most emotionally impactful elements of the film. But fans might struggle to find any trace of Waititi’s character in the monstrous version of Ratcatcher that appears in Arkham City: The Order of the World #1 by Dan Watters, Dani Strips, Dave Stewart, and Aditya Bidikar.
Taking place after the Joker poisoned and killed a majority of the doctors and inmates at Arkham Asylum – Arkham City: The Order of the World #1 follows Dr. Jacosta Joy, one of Arkham’s only surviving therapists, as she helps Gotham’s police track down and detain escaped inmates. They find Otis Flannegan, also known as the Ratcatcher, just before he attacks an eight-year-old girl in a tense moment that almost ends horribly and serves as a haunting reminder of just how dangerous Otis can be.
Dr. Joy finds Ratcatcher lurking under the little girl’s bed holding a knife. He lunges at his former therapist and explains “I have to eat the child. I have to be a rat.” She attempts to reason with him, but he is clearly delusional and in an agitated and dangerous state of mind. Both the Doctor and the child are in tremendous danger, but a police officer arrives to subdue Ratcatcher before anyone is seriously injured. Later, when Dr. Joy is talking with a detective, it is revealed that Ratcatcher had attacked other children earlier and he seemed to be attempting to work up enough courage to cannibalize his next victim. This behavior is a far cry from the flawed, but loving father seen in The Suicide Squad.
Between his addiction and his penchant for thievery, The Suicide Squad’s Ratcatcher certainly isn’t a perfect role model, but it is impossible to imagine him harming a child, nonetheless eating one. In fact, Otis is the movie’s moral compass. He taught his daughter to stick up for the little guy and to treat people with kindness and empathy even when times are tough. Ratcatcher 2’s memories of her kindly father are what propel her to become a hero for the people of Corto Maltese and the rest of her teammates.
In the DCEU, Otis is almost the complete opposite of the dangerous criminal represented in Watters’ comic. But Watters isn’t the first author to present Ratcatcher as a genuinely dangerous villain. In fact, the character has been a sinister force in the DC Universe ever since his first appearance in 1988’s Detective Comics #585 by Alan Grant, John Wagner, Norm Breyfogle, Ricardo Villagran, Adrienne Roy, and Todd Klein. When Ratcatcher makes his comic book debut, he is already holding several men captive in a makeshift prison in Gotham’s sewers. When one of the men tries to escape, Otis commands his rats to kill the man and torture the other prisoners. This sadistic streak propels Ratcatcher to great villainous heights until he eventually finds himself in Arkham Asylum.
In many ways, Arkham City: Order of the World #1 represents a return to form for Ratcatcher. His interest in cannibalism is a return to his horrifying roots and a disturbing example of just how depraved many of Gotham’s criminals are. The Suicide Squad’s Ratcatcher would probably never attempt to eat an eight-year-old girl, and he probably wouldn’t torture people in sewers either. His affinity for rats is really the only thing he has in common with the comics’ Ratcatcher.
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