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Batman: Arkham Asylum Comics – October 1, 1997
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There are two storylines woven together in “Batman: Arkham Asylum.” The main line involves Batman entering an Arkham Asylum being run by the inmates. There he finds himself pitted against his foes: the Joker, Two-Face, Scarecrow, and others. The other is the 19th century tale of Amadeus Arkham’s descent into madness.
As is common in the Batman mythology, psychiatrists are portrayed as walking the razor’s edge between sanity and insanity. For those who don’t read comic books, this is most readily exemplified by the character of Dr. Crane / Scarecrow in the first film of the Nolan trilogy, “Batman Begins.” I’m not sure whether the point is to create enemies that are so strong they can bend doctors to their will, or if there is a general disdain for psychiatrists—as one might see a dislike of lawyers in other stories.
Among the nightmarish elements of this work is the fact that Batman’s face is never seen clearly. The Dark Knight is always a vaguely and/or surrealistically silhouetted. There’s a mix of sharpness and haziness in the graphics. The Joker gets his own crazy scrawl font. The graphics are as creepy and strange as can be. On my low-end Kindle, the work was in black and white, which worked well. I did look at the sample pages, and the color version uses a lot of sepia and crimson.
“Batman: Arkham Asylum” asks us to consider whether Bruce Wayne / Batman is sane or just a lunatic with a moral code.
Haunting and beautifully jarring artwork by Dave McKean! There's something almost Silent Hillish about his illustrations that I enjoyed quite a bit.
The mature story and themes tackled by Grant Morrison make the reading worthwhile. What it lacks in conflict it makes up for in symbolism.
The issue I take with Morrison's work is that some plot points (I won't spoil them) felt underdeveloped, perhaps because he leaned heavily on deconstructing several members of Batman's rogue gallery in too short of a space. The pacing is frantic.
While I praised the graphic style of this book, it is difficult to make out what is happening sometimes. Also, reading the text can be a struggle.
There are many reasons why this graphic novel was met with commercial and critical acclaim. I won't make a case against that. Three stars might seem like a low score, but hey! It's completely subjective. This book should have been love at first sight for me, and yet... Hmm. Maybe it was a time and place sort of thing.
But the main plot is really just an excuse for the writer to put Batman on a couch and psychoanalyze him. The result? Really interesting, but as I said, very abnormal and not always satisfying.
If you're someone who likes analyzing characters or is interested in the graphic novel as a medium, you'll probably enjoy this a lot. That goes double if you like discussing graphic novels with friends, because I promise you this will give you a lot to talk about.
But if you're in it for action and good old-fashioned linear plot development, I promise this won't satisfy you at all.
Why five stars? Despite many of its shortcomings, it's one of the most ambitious works I've ever read in the medium, and even if I didn't personally feel too attached to it, it's right up near the top of the "must-read" list, and I can't really deny that.
This story was in the middle for me, I didn't love it and I didn't hate it.
Overall, I liked the story, there were a few things that bugged me, like that barely anything happens yet Batman cuts himself almost immediately. I mean hes barely been in the place five minutes and he already can't take it? I just didn't think that represented Batman's strength very well.I found the lettering terrible, there were points where I could not make out what the Joker was saying until I read it a few times. I did love the illustrations, I think they set the tone quite nicely
I would not place this in my top 20 Batman stories, but I also would not place it in my worst either. It is probably not a story I will reread very often, and I don't understand why people make such a fuss over it. I would not call it a must have, I find Grant Morrison's Batman and Robin run much better and much more praise worthy.
If you enjoy stranger artwork, and non-linear story telling, than you may like this. It is certainly worth a read, just don't start here if you are new to Batman comics. If you are starting out and looking for something modern, check out the New 52 Court of the Owls series.
Most recent customer reviews
Great art work, awesome storyline. Different from what I'm use to but my goodness it was a great read!