Book Review: Arkham Asylum (Batman) by Grant Morrison, Dave McKean

arkhamBatman: Arkham Asylum by Grant Morrison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The inmates of Arkham Asylum have taken over Gotham’s detention center for the criminally insane on April Fool’s Day, demanding Batman in exchange for their hostages. Accepting their demented challenge, Batman is forced to endure the personal hells of the Joker, Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, Two-Face and many other sworn enemies in order to save the innocents and retake the prison. During his run through this absurd gauntlet, the Dark Knight’s must face down both his most dangerous foes and his inner demons.

This is the critically acclaimed Batman story that helped launch the U.S. careers of Grant Morrison and Dave McKean. The classic confrontation between the Dark Knight and his archnemeses, this story is well known for its psychological intensity and probing portraits of Batman and the Joker.ARKHAM ASYLUM includes 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 Morrison 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.

The lunatics are running the asylum, where the inmates have taken over, and are demanding one final thing: Batman to come join them.

Batman finally agrees, whilst worried about what he will confront whilst in there – is the asylum actually where he will feel “normal” and “comfortable” – will it feel like coming home? He comes across many of the inmates, many of whom he has put in there, and some of his most iconic enemies, including Harvey Dent, The Joker (some of the best graphic animation in the book), The Scarecrow etc.

Running along side this narrative is that of the Asylum’s creator, who set up the asylum after the death of his insane mother, but who in turn, goes mad. The last few years of his life is spent creating a binding spell for one iconic figure – The Bat. Many of the inmates now believe Batman is The Bat foretold and hence his arrival and commitment will fulfil some supernatural spell.

Interesting to see Dave Mckean’s very early work and how over the years that style of drawing/colouring has become his established style, taking him (and Neil Gaiman) through Stardust and beyond

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