BATMAN ON FILM, since June 1998!

Buy 'ARKHAM ASYLUM!'
Book Review: ARKHAM ASYLUM

Author: Bill Ramey
Tuesday, March 6, 2007

SYNOPSIS FROM DC COMICS:
"In celebration of the 16th anniversary of the critically acclaimed Batman story that helped launch the U.S. careers of Grant Morrison and Dave McKean, DC Comics is proud to present a softcover edition of the ARKHAM ASYLUM ANNIVERSARY EDITION, reprinting the now-classic confrontation between the Dark Knight and his archnemeses the Joker, Two-Face, Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, and more in the black heart of Gotham City's house for the criminally insane.

This graphic novel is well known for its psychological intensity and probing portraits of Batman and the Joker, as well as groundbreaking art that influenced scores of artists by introducing a new school of storytelling and technique to comics. This special edition also includes Morrison's complete original script annotated by both himself and editor Karen Berger, many of his original thumbnail breakdowns, step-by-step samples of how the story and art came together and much more!"

Itís sort of hard to write a review of a comic book -- sorry, make that graphic novel -- thatís nearly 20 years old. I mean, the thing has been reviewed, anylized, dissected countless times over the years. Hell, if you are reading this, most likely you are a Batman fan, youíve read this GN, and you have an unswayable opinion about it. Nonetheless, Iím here today with my review of the classic Grant Morrison/Dave McKean graphic novel ARKHAM ASSYSUM.

Iím sure you know the bookís premise: The inmates at Arkham Asylum have been set loose, taken control of the facility, and hold the workers hostage. They send the police a list of demands which include at the top a request for The Batman himself. The Dark Knight, who they believe to be as nuts as themselves, must join them in Arkham.

Batman agrees to the demand and enters the asylum in a calm and cool fashion -- as opposed to smashing through a glass roof chunking batarangs left and right. In fact, heís even greeted and led in by the craziest of the crazies: The Joker.

Once inside, The Batman must face many of his most vile adversaries: Two Face, Maxie Zeus, Clayface, Killer Croc, and The Mad Hatter. The Joker of naturally puts The Batman through the ringer once he's finally within the ďhospital.Ē Pushed to the edge of insanity, The Dark Knight fights his way back and turns the tables on The Joker and the others in the end -- or at least we think he does.

Additionally, he must face his own fears and find out for himself if they are right about him: Is The Batman crazy just like the people he puts in Arkham?

Running concurrently to Batmanís story, is the tale of Amadeus Arkham -- the founder of the asylum -- and his spiral into madness. This part of the book is used to explore the tie between The Batman and his rogues gallery -- in particular the idea that all of this was destined to occur.

To me, Mr. McKeanís art is as important to ARKHAM ASYLUM as the story -- arguably more important. The artwork simply reeks of the psychosis that is found in every inch of Arkham. Itís schizophrenic, bizarre, and flat out crazy -- just as it should be for this story.

While I certainly feel that ARKHAM ASYLUM is brilliant, that doesnít mean that it meshes with my personal take on The Batman. Iím not a big fan of ďborderline psychoĒ Batman, nor do I dig the sexual subtext that sometimes is found in The Joker towards The Batman. Both of these elements are found in this book. If your tastes in The Bat are similar to mine, then you may have issues with these aspects of the story.

ARKHAM ASYLUM is one of the greatest individual Batman stories ever told. It also had -- and still has -- a huge impact on the comic book industry. Itís must-own for all Batman fans and a must-read for anyone who thinks that comics are for kids.

Bill Ramey, AKA "Jett," is the founder and editor in chief of
BATMAN ON FILM, BATMAN IN COMICS, and ON-FILM.NET.

© 1998-present BATMAN ON FILM and William E. Ramey. All rights reserved.
Material from BOF may not be reprinted without permission.
Images © DC COMICS.