Arkham Asylum Graphic Novel Review
Written by Grant Morrison http://grantmorrison.com/
Artwork by Dave McKean http://www.mckean-art.co.uk/
Released in 1989
Re Released in 2005
I've been reading Graphic Novels for about 3 years now and after being a Marvel fan for many years, I have 'grown up' and found that this particular type of literature has swayed my allegance towards DC. The characters within the DC world lend themselves to the Graphic Novel as they generally have more complex backgrounds and and lend themselves more easily to adult situations.
Arkham Asylum has been on my reading list for a long time, and I was well aware that amongst fans, this is definitely a 'marmite' book.
I have read the re released version of the book, and I would suggest that anyone who has read the original and not seen this copy should give it a go. This copy has the original draft of the book and it provides an incredible insight in to the thinking behind each page, scene and panel. The characters, settings and mood are brought to life by Dave McKean, an artist who's work I have not experienced before. But his style is perfect for this book, all the way through we are treated to dark mixtures of graphic images, symbolism and stark settings. I can imagine some people not liking the art, but for this story it works. This is not a story for the faint hearted, and neither are the images, there is far more here on these pages than first meets the eye.
We all know that Batman is a complicated individual, but this book takes him to the very edge of his psychological limits, pushed in to looking far inside himself by his nemisis The Joker. But for me it is the introduction of Amadeus Arkham to the Batman world that really intrigues me. The creator of Arkham Asylum as a place for the treatment of the criminally insane after it had had been his family home. We start to understand that Arkham is a living, breathing animal itself, and to live within its walls is to become part of something more than just a building. Morrison quotes from Alice in Wonderland equating that if you're in the building you must be mad, and how true this is. This is what Batman fears.
If you are a Batman fan, and read the stories, don't be put off by reviews saying that this story is too short or too weird. That the art is childlike or confusing. This is a fantastic and chilling piece in the vast Batman jigsaw, but a necessary one.