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Arkham Asylum Graphic Novel Review

Updated on March 6, 2012

Arkham Asylum

Written by Grant Morrison

Artwork by Dave McKean

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.


Arkham Asylum


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    • gabrielthomas72 profile image

      gabrielthomas72 5 years ago from Shrewsbury, England

      It's abook which is heavy on the visual and as you say divides opinion, but I loved it. Cheers for the comment!

    • Eric Mikols profile image

      Eric Mikols 5 years ago from New England

      I've never read this. I keep trying to find someone who owns it so I can borrow before I buy. It seems like one that can divide fans easily. I'm glad you like it.

    • gabrielthomas72 profile image

      gabrielthomas72 6 years ago from Shrewsbury, England

      Loeb and Sale's Holiday series are my favourites! The artwork in these books are superb!

    • simplysuperheroes profile image

      simplysuperheroes 6 years ago from New Jersey

      Loved this graphic novel with Morrison's annotations. I first read it w/o the annotations and found it "eh" but with the annotations, the book comes to life.

      I can easily see this book being turned into a movie or even a one-act play, it's that good of a psychological thriller.

      @JohnGreasyGamer: try Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns and also Long Halloween and Hush. I can read these Batman graphic novels a few times each and not get tired of them.

    • JohnGreasyGamer profile image

      John Roberts 6 years ago from South Yorkshire, England

      It looks like a good read, but I'm not wholly a Batman fan. I mean, I do like the later versions of the Batman films (Batman Begins, the Dark Knight) and even the game of the same name. I used to read a lot of comic books, and I have a brief understanding of Batman's story.

      The game had taken a major twist for me though, changing everything I knew about some "Bam! Kaplow! Biff!" superhero, and changed it into a dark psychological thriller. If it's anything like the latter, I'm gonna read this! Great review!

    • gabrielthomas72 profile image

      gabrielthomas72 6 years ago from Shrewsbury, England

      Do it mate! Get the newer version with the commentary, at the back.

    • WayneDave profile image

      WayneDave 6 years ago from Leeds, England

      Very good review, I may just check this one out.