Batman: Arkham Asylum
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Batman: Arkham Asylum (Batman)

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4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  30,537 ratings  ·  913 reviews
In this groundbreaking, painted graphic novel, the inmates of Arkham Asylum have taken over Gotham's detention center for the criminally insane on April Fools Day, demanding Batman in exchange for their hostages. Accepting their demented challenge, Batman is forced to live and endure the personal hells of the Joker, Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, Two-Face and many other sworn enem...more
Hardcover, Absolute
Published 2010 by Planeta DeAgostini Comics (DC Comics) (first published 1989)
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StoryTellerShannon


This is not your traditional Batman tale. Some people won't like it. In fact, Batman seems like a normal man when confronted by the horrors within and acts in very non Batman ways. There's a two part story here where we switch back and forth to the founder of Arkham and why he turned his mansion into a facility for the mad and Batman trying to navigate his way through the madness of Arkham.



Batman action is minimal. This is much more of an emotional journey.

There is distinctive lettering for...more
Eric
May 30, 2012 Eric rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
What a fucking mess. The painted artwork was appalling, the story-line was incoherent, the dialogue was barely legible, and, most importantly, the portrayal of Batman was all wrong. This felt like a second-rate haunted-house horror that Batman was wedged into, and poorly at that. Batman's encounters with various villains felt thrown-in, in a cheap name-dropping way, his decision-making was baffling to non-existent, and the story's resolution -- hanging on a coin-flip -- was absurd.

The back-stor...more
Andrew Webb
I have read many a poor/overrated Batman story in my ten-odd years as a fan, but this much referred to epic may take the cake. As a Batman story, this is a total failure. Batman acts completely out of character almost from the beginning. When walking into a hostage situation masterminded by the Joker, he strikes up a conversation with his archenemy rather than planning how to rescue the innocents involved. When Joker shoots a hostage in the head across the room from Batman (I think-- the bizarre...more
Madeline
i think ADHD being a form of higher evolution is an interesting theory. grant morrison thinking he is more highly evolved because he has ADHD is a less interesting theory.

morrison is no genius, in my opinion. i would attribute most of the greatness of the book to mckean, especially after reading the original "script" in the back of this book. morrison says, "According to Len Wein's original WHO'S WHO entry, Arkham died singing "the Battle Hymn of the Republic," but for some reason I got confused...more
Keith
So after buying this book for the third time in my life today (the first, a hardcover edition that all the pages eventually fell out of; the second, the paperback edition sans script that now sits across the country with the rest of my books) I decided it was worth going on Goodreads to wax poetic about it. Because goddamn I love this book. I got it right after the '89 movie came out, of course, and was absolutely terrified of it -- it sat on my nightstand and gave me nightmares regularly, until...more
Marc
Oct 15, 2007 Marc rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: intellectual art lovers
Arkham Asylum is the best graphic novel I've ever read for two reasons: writing, and art.

This isn't your average WHACK! POW! comic book. In fact, there is almost no violence or glammed-out secret weapons. Grant Morrision takes us through a masterful exploration into the psyche of Bruce Wayne, a man who suffered a tragic loss at an early age and formed a very clear alternate identity. Is he a crime fighter, or does he suffer from MPD (Multiple Personality Disorder), and does it even matter.

Set in...more
Stephen
3.5 stars. Superb art by Dave McKean and a mostly good story by Grant Morrison (with flashes of brilliance) highlight this quality Batman graphic novel. The reason it doesn't rate higher overall is because there were a few "huh?" moments where the story was a bit hard to follow and I think the creators at times sacrificed story at the altar of atmosphere.
Sam Quixote
Based solely upon his 2006-2013 run, Grant Morrison might be the greatest Batman writer of all time. But he wasn’t always so brilliant as his first Batman book, the mega-selling Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, shows.

The inmates have overrun the asylum and are holding civilians hostage. With Joker running free with a knife, Batman goes into the asylum to stop him and enters a nightmarish netherworld. Meanwhile, the troubled life of the asylum’s founder, Amadeus Arkham, is explor...more
Julian
A batman tale at its best, as it reaches unflinchingly deep into the recesses of the human psyche. While the comic may be accused by some as symptomatic of an attempt at at best, pop psychology, I think the authors have done a marvellous job in portraying the differences by which Batman and The Joker are negotiating what are in essence, very similar psychological conflicts.
This is done on a backdrop literally seething with a brooding, menacing perceived threat of total disintegration, which was...more
Werebot
Oct 06, 2008 Werebot rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the one Batman fan in the world who hasn't read it.
I know that a lot of the modern Batman mythos has a lot to do with the whole evil outside vs. darkness within motif, but this is ridiculous. What a pretentious bunch of nonsense. And I've never gotten the attraction to Dave McKean's art. But then, I'm not a goth nerd. I can never tell what's going on, everything's too dark and splotchy and covered in symbols. This is a Batman comic book. Let's not overthink it. When did we let the British take over our comic books anyway? Neil Gaiman and co. nee...more
Zaki
I like dark, sinister, and menacing stuff. Arkham Asylum threw out the rule book and invented a new one. A darker one. A cruel one. I adore every twisted page as they have a rich, dark quality. My mind is full of dark thoughts. I only think in black.
Brandon
Batman is alerted that the inmates of Arkham Asylum have taken over the premises. If this isn't dangerous enough, they're threatening to murder everyone in the facility unless Batman agrees to a face to face meeting.

I understand that a lot of people can appreciate the style in which both Morrison and McKean approached Batman, however this just wasn't for me. Maybe I like my stuff a little more.. focused? I have no idea if that's the right word. I feel like I'm almost speaking a form of blasphemy...more
Anne
Sorry, guys. Didn't like it.

I have a headache and my eyes hurt.
Not joking here.
One of my eyes is actually throbbing.
Yes, only one.
I'm going to take some Tylenol...
Petertpc
This was a pretty disappointing. I thought the artwork was outstanding and I really liked the dark tone of the stoty. What bothered me was the writing. I know that Grant Morrison is a comic legend, but the plot here seemed dysfunctional and hard to follow. I didn't make for a good read.
Adam
McKean's artwork is just staggeringly good. I don't have much else to say about it.

The effect of the thing is very Lynchian more than anything else. I think Lynch doing this as a movie would be utterly awesome. It's very much in that same category where you have to feel and experience it, where a close reading is actually less rewarding (and fuck you Grant Morrison, if you disagree) than just letting it wash over you. It plays on the emotions and is really very dreamlike and atmospheric.

It's rea...more
Craig Williams
I never liked Grant Morrison. Ever since he started to make a splash in the comic book scene, I couldn't figure out why he was such a big damn deal. His work on Batman, especially the R.I.P-arc, was awful. His work on Uncanny X-Men, from what I read, was okay, but nothing incredible.

Then I read Batman: Arkham Asylum.

I have to say - this is really good stuff. I read this in one sitting, it was so good. Morrison weaves a haunting Batman tale, exploring the darker side of Batman's psyche: the part...more
Tyler Hill
I know that this comic looms large in the Bat-cannon, so I've been interested to read it for some time now. But, now that I've had a chance to, I have to say I'm a bit underwhelmed. Maybe it's a matter of expectations being set too high, but it also might be a matter of just some muddy storytelling.

To be fair, there's a number of interesting ideas in these pages. The description of Joker's psyche by one of the people working in the Asylum is interesting, and the story of Amadeus Arkham is genui...more
Ryan Milbrath
In the 1980’s the character of Batman became synonymous with violent, almost sociopathic, vigilante. This portrayal of Batman was, no doubt, influenced by Frank Miller’s 1986, opus The Dark Knight Returns, and the storylines developed by Chuck Dixon, and others, in 80’s. Then comes 1989, and a work so divisive, it left Batman fans either waiting for the next work in character evolution, or desperately trying to Listerine away the bad taste of Grant Morrison from their taste buds.

Morrison’s Batma...more
Trey Piepmeier
I bought this book when it first came out in 1989 and was somewhat obsessed with it. I thought it was totally brilliant. And I guess in the context of the time in which it was published, it was. Nothing like this had been done before. There weren't any painted, hardcover "graphic novels" back then.

The artwork is at times amazing (basically any picture of The Joker), and at times puzzling. I guess the whole McKean collage thing used to be cool, but having photographs interspersed with paintings j...more
MIke
Forget "...Dark Knight," "The Killing Joke" and "Year One," this is the greatest Batman story ever told. Morrison weaves a tale of symbols that plays out in a crawl from the depth of Hell to the brink of salvation and vice versa. With Dave McKean's brilliant art setting the stage there's nothing to compete.
Brenna
The first of the fruits of Dragoncon purchases. It's ambitious, I will say that for it. Here, Grant Morrison attempts to turn a Batman comic into a graphic novel of ideas, surreal imagery, and religious symbolism. To me, most of that remained on the page in the original script for the piece (included in this 15th anniversary copy). Call me stunted and un-artistic, but when the images in a graphic novel are so messy once can barely tell what they are depicting, 90% of the symbolism is lost unless...more
Nigel
Yes. Perfect. Art is absolutely gorgeous, writing is perfect, we don't get bogged down in Bats, and the Bats we do get is minimalist and cool. I can't decide which characterization I like the most. Well, I can; Maxie Zeus is inexplicably fucking amazing and messianic and a complete 180 from the dolt who runs into the tree in 'Knightfall.' However, it also features the most important portrayal of Twoface that I've seen. I mean, holy shit. Also, is that poetry written from each major character's p...more
Evan Leach
Arkham Asylum is a pretty polarizing work. On one hand, it has been extremely successful commercially, selling nearly a half million copies over the years (making it the best-selling original graphic novel in comics history, at least at the time of my copy’s printing). It’s also been the darling of many critics, frequently placing high on “best of” lists ranking the Batman graphic novels. On the other hand, it’s quite different from the usual Batman fare, both in terms of art and story, and many...more
M.F. Soriano
This book was a major success for DC when they released it, back in 1989. It sold more than any other graphic novel DC had released by that point, and it maintained best-seller status for years. It also helped catapult its creators--artist Dave McKean and writer Grant Morrison--into comic-book royalty status, and it even netted Morrison a heaping pile of cash ($300,000 off initial sales alone). Lots of people loved it, apparently. The problem is: it's not really any good.

Sure the art, when you f...more
Berto
First of all, it must be said that this is NOT your typical Batman story and I don't believe it was ever intended to be a typical Batman story. Once that realization sets in it is much easier to be objective about the quality of this book. The artwork, while not really to my taste, is still incredible and takes comic art to another level completely, treating the pages as individual canvases instead of the usual story boxes. The plot can be confusing if you're reading quickly and casually, but ul...more
Abigail
My first ride into Batman-Morrison territory and boy what a ride it was! However this wasn't my first exposure to Dave Mckean yet nothing could have prepared me for the fear McKean's Joker would instill. I first picked this up late at night, yet I put off reading it simply because the Joker's contorted face was so absolutely terrifying floating in mid-darkness from my iPad that I had to quickly turn on the lights and pray no such madman exists.

Thus, in many ways it is difficult to choose what ma...more
William Thomas
Grant Morrison has evolved greatly over the course of 20 years, and this less than stellar book from 1989 is the proof of how far he has come. Because this was an absolute abomination on all fronts.

Dis I say abomination? I meant abortion. Because this read like something bot fully developed, the story only half-baked and fairly worthless, not entertaining us, nor teaching us, nor making us believe in it's poetry or beauty. The only thing redeeming were bits of the art by Dave McKean, and even th...more
Liz
This is the book that made me feel proud to admit that I like Comics err I mean graphic novels....its ok, it may have pictures in it, but its in a novel format, therefore its intelligentia reading.

It's nearly 30 years old but it is head and shoulders above anything I've read that was written/drawn in the 2000's. The artwork is awesome and the atmosphere created totally creeped me out, as it should bcos its Arkham Asylum dammit. The author's notes at the back were very interesting, usually I skip...more
Sesana
I admit, I picked this up for a re-read after playing Arkham Asylum. Fantastic game, by the way, well-written, with great action and incredible voice acting. But this is not about that game, about which I could rave for hours.

I remember loving this graphic novel when I first read it, but reading it again I can't exactly remember why. It's still well-written, and the Arkham backstory is interesting enough that it's apparently been kept. But pretty much everybody that shows up feels out of charact...more
Shannon
This is not your average Batman adventure. So, if you're looking for a traditional and linear good vs. evil story, this might not be for you, because, while Batman does fight within Arkham's walls, the major conflict is with himself. The duel story of the founding history for Arkham Asylum through the lens of Amadeus Arkham is jarring, gripping and has a twist that you'd find in a Hitchcock film (that is, if Hitchcock took notes from Lovecraft). Their story lines are parallel, and as Batman stru...more
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  • Batman: Dark Victory
  • Batman: The Man Who Laughs
  • The Batman Adventures: Mad Love
  • Joker
  • Batman: The Black Mirror
  • Batman: The Killing Joke
  • Batman: The Cult
  • Batman: Black and White (Batman: Black and White #1)
  • Arkham Asylum: Living Hell
  • The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told
  • Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?
  • Batman: Noel
  • Batman: Under the Red Hood
  • Batman: Year 100
  • Batman: Knightfall, Vol. 1: Broken Bat
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Scottish comic book author Grant Morrison is known for culture-jamming and the constant reinvention of his work. He is known for his nonlinear narratives and countercultural leanings in his runs on titles including DC Comics' Animal Man, Batman, JLA, The Invisibles, Action Comics, All-Star Superman, and Doom Patrol, and Marvel Comics' New X-Men and Fantastic Four. Many of these are controversial,...more
More about Grant Morrison...
All-Star Superman, Vol. 1 We3 Batman and Robin, Vol. 1: Batman Reborn All-Star Superman, Vol. 2 Batman and Son

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“Enough madness? Enough? And how do you measure madness? - The Joker” 198 likes
“Sometimes it’s only madness that makes us what we are.” 74 likes
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