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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 1998
The thing I found so interesting about Last Arkham was the insight that was provided into the inmates at Arkham. Especially when put under the cruel fist of Jeremiah Arkham. Breyfogles art is (as usual) clean and crisp with a gritty darkness few artists are capable of. Of course Grant provides a fantastic story to match. Particularly interesting is the Jeremiah Arkham/Zsazz interview, which reminisces the reader to Silence of the Lambs. A truly excellent read - highly recommended.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
When I first started reading the presented story in this collection (it collects 'Batman: Shadow of the Bat #1-4') my interest was sparked. It all started off rather promising and seemed to be something more than your average Batman tale. Jeremiah Arkham is an interesting character and Arkham Asylum is a scene with great potential for psycho-thriller storylines (take for example "Arkham Asylum" by Grant Morisson). It's too bad that when the story was half done, in a good way, it seemed to shift over as if on automatic pilot. It then evolved into a cliche Batman-knows-all-and-hunts-down-the-crook story of which we have so many already.
A short intro to know what it's about a little:
In Arkham Asylum, Gotham City's nutthouse for the criminally insane, we find a rather unexpected inhabitant, Batman. He was put there because he went berserk and lethally attacked an officer. This because of his frustrations about not knowing what to do in the multiple-murdercase he's trying to figure out. All the clues lead to only one person, Zsasz, but he is already in Arkham Asylum and has been there all the while the murders took place. Batman is puzzled and him being locked up doesn't seem to help too.
Like I said, it all starts off rather promising and intriguing. But it lacks an evenly interesting conclussion and instead just hops over on an already paved path. The art is not spectacularly good either, but it's sufficient. It's only painfully obvious that the artist mostly concentrated on making Batman look good, and hurried a little doing the rest of the panel. Fans of Nightwing will not appreciate how he looks here. And a thing I don't mind easy is something which bugs me more than a little in this book: the coloring is .. let's just say "not good". It looks a little like the colorist really wanted to do it with other colors but that they weren't there right then, and than just opted for the next best thing.
All in all it isn't exactly the worst Batman story imaginable, but it isn't good or bringing something new to the character neither. If you're looking for a good Batman story than you could get it if you have most of all the other modern day Batman stories already. If you don't you'd rather get something like 'Prey','Faces','Knightfall (collected in two trades)','Joker: Devil's Advocate' or one of the more obvious choices like 'Long Halloween', 'Year One' or 'Return of the Dark Knight' which are all superior to this.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2003
One of the finest pieces of graphic literature the Batman storyline have spawned during the 90s, `The Last Arkham' was the storyline that made up the four first issues of `Shadow Of The Bat' in 1992. Written by the spectacular Alan Grant and drawn by Norm Breyfogle, `The Last Arkham' goes far beyond the quality and subject matter usually found in the monthly comics, and reminds me of those wonderful days of Dennis O'Neil and Neil Adams in the 80s. Resisting the urge to use any of Batman's classic foes, Grant did the impossible here: He created two new `classic' characters - Jeremiah Arkham and Mr. Zsasz, both of whom are fascinating characters and were used often in the Batman comics since - not an easy task after fifty years of Batman comics.
Like the best of Batman stories, `The Last Arkham' creates a good mix of action, suspense and some criminal psychology - I wouldn't call it deep, Jeremiah Arkham's behaviorism theories, but it's highly intelligent and well written. Commissioner Gordon and Nightwing play important parts. The lead villain, Mr. Zsasz, is a great creation, and since he's not an established enough character to make for a good one-on-one story, the rest of the rogue gallery are thrown into the mix to make some nice scenes in the asylum as well as the terrific action scene in the beginning of part four. The storyline and dialogue are sharp and mature.
The artwork is basically standard, but at that it's terrific: Under the flat coloring, Breyfogle's linework is superb. The page compositions are fantastic; I especially loved the very last page of part four.
Highly recommended for Batman fans, a terrific book to add to your collection.
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on October 3, 2014
The old Arkham Asylum, the institution for dangerous criminals has been renovated by the new owner Jeremiah Arkham, the nephew of the original owner Amadeus Arkham. He plans to bury the past concerning his uncle and begins new treatment for the inmates. While going on his daily run he comes upon his newest patient in shackles... Batman. -summary

Being one of DC's bread and butter characters, and no doubt their hottest character around this point and even up to this very day. Batman was set to receive another long running series in the form of Shadow of the Bat. When looking at the reception of Legends of the Dark Knight, it really wasn't a surprise. Shadow of the Bat got off to a very good start with the four part series The Last Arkham. This story is mainly remembered for the debuts of two characters in the Batman universe being Jeremiah Arkham, who would make a larger impact later on, and the sinister serial killer Zsasz; a man who is so consumed by evil and the need to kill anyone who crosses his path, that Batman (much later) once stated he hates him more than any other lunatic he has ever come across. Very harsh words when looking at the Joker as his number one nemesis. This trade paperback collects the four part story and was written by Alan Grant.

The plot follows Batman being locked up in Arkham Asylum. He's being accused of snapping on a murder scene and killing a police officer. Arkham doesn't seem the least bit surprised with this all of a sudden change in behavior, since he believes that Batman walks a thin line between sane and insane anyway. I mean after all; how can a man who dresses up like a flying rat be all together up there? The initial story has a whole lot of potential into becoming a completely different Batman story. However, Batman being a murderer becomes very hard to buy into fast, not because we all know Batman wouldn't go that far, but once you learn more on what's going on, there's just no way to find this story even half way believable. Now does this make the overall story bad? Not at all, Alan Grant manages to turn this unbelievable tale into a thrilling and suspense-filled ride, by delivering the usual Batman mystery.

There happens to be a killer loose in Gotham, who's M.O. fits the serial killer Zsasz. But he's locked up in Arkham Asylum and everyone knows this for a fact, Batman saw him there for sure. The only possibility could be a copy-cat killer. Batman doesn't believe this at all and it just has to be Zsasz. The question that's burning him up is; how is he able to do it?

Grant does a well enough job in keeping the reader in the dark with the stories suspense, along with some very good character interactions and the occasional action scenes, but it's the character development I think is the strongest. Jeremiah appears to be a man obsessed with what he's doing. The reader will get a good look on how he handles his inmates through some brutal treatments, such as subjecting the Scarecrow through his own fear tactics, by creating holograms of his fear which happens to be attacking birds. When looking at the crimes that were committed by these villains, it's very hard to feel sorry for any of them. I only wish this part was a little more developed. He also comes off very narcissistic and this plays into the story as well, explaining what some may believe to be plot holes. Zsasz is built up just as well. He's a cold blooded killer; he kills his victims by slitting their throats and sitting them up as if they're still alive, and making him even more psychotic, he scars his own body with tallies to keep a victim count, with intentions on reminding himself that he's still only human. He also appears to have a very sound criminal intellect by staying steps ahead of Batman. Nightwing makes an appearance here that doesn't feel forced at all, and it was also an early clue that there was no way Batman could be a murderer. Batman is developed pretty well too, by using whatever tactics he has to in order to solve this murder case.

The story rides the coattails of Arkham Asylum: A Serious House On Serious Earth. It acknowledges that story by displaying Amadeus's journal and the fact he was taken over by the madness. There's always that possibility that Jeremiah will follow his uncle's path and this plays into the story as well. I can see this as a plot hole in some ways, because I recall Amadeus being the only child, so I don't know where this nephew came from, and this may bother some if they prefer their stories to be completely wire tight.

Norm Breyfogle's artwork is entertaining when delivering the action panels. There are some good moments with Batman fighting off other inmates and Robin battling against two-bit hoods. The murders are left up to the imagination, with only the aftermath being displayed, such as a couple left murdered while playing a chess game. Zsasz has quite possibly the sickest character design I seen for a character, with his body having scores of tallied up scars, from his shoulders down to his feet. My only issue with the artwork would be some of the coloring. Perhaps the use of one solid color was meant to add to the grittiness of the story. I kind of found it to be on the lazy side since it was used frequently. It almost seems as if Breyfogle heavily chose the color yellow because that was all he had at his disposal. I'll give credit to the dialog, which happens to be another strength here, that really works in developing both Zsasz and Arkham.

Stories like these that heavily utilize the thriller aspect are the best fit for Batman, when considering that he's the most human of all superheroes, and taking on serial killers is right up his alley. Alan Grant did a nice job here maintaining a fine balance with your basic comic escapism and reality. The story also receives more points due to being newbie friendly, as it doesn't require any backstory whatsoever. If you're a casual comic fan searching for something to just dive into, this would be a fantastic Batman story for you.

Pros: Easy to get into, well paced, interesting characters

Cons: Backgrounds and coloring feels rushed
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 1997
Batman goes under cover as a patient in Arkham to catch a serial killer. While inside, Nightwing (Dick Grayson, the first Robin) tries to break him out. These two former partners team up once again to catch the killer in this collection of Batman: Shadow of the Bat #1-4. Outstanding storytelling and art by some of comics greatest talent.
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on May 25, 2013
I had this book as a child but foolishly tossed it when I got older and had read it many (many many) times.

I am glad to have it in my collection again. The story is great for fans as well as newcomers who will get a good taste of how crazy the villains (and batman) really are.

good buy
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