Tyler Hill's Reviews > Batman: Arkham Asylum - A Serious House on Serious Earth

Batman by Grant Morrison
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's review
Oct 20, 2011

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bookshelves: read-in-2011
Read in October, 2011

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 genuinely horrifying and interesting at times (the "and the dollhouse looked back" part... chills). But, the story also just sort of lurches around at random, and -while some of the aimlessness might have been intentional- it looses focus in the middle. Some of my indifference might have to do with the fact that some of themes have been rehashed so many times in other stories, that I'm not particularly eager to see them rehashed again here: Is Batman as crazy as the villains? A retelling of his parents being kill. Joker and Batman squaring off again. All things that have been done to death. (Actually, I will say that the spin that Wayne's parents might not have been the nicest people is a bit interesting... but that's implied, and then dropped.)

Some of the blame has to be laid at McKean's art. The guy is an ambitious artist (illustrator seems limiting here), but he's a muddy storyteller. That's fine for atmospheric purposes, but troubling in terms of a narrative. There are too many sequences where I found myself going: "Wait, who said that?" Or "Who's that character?" Or, even just "What's going on?" I'm genuinely a fan of highly stylized work, but when you start sacrificing story for style, its worth reconsidering the choices you are making, no matter how inventive.

All in all, worth the read if you have an evening to spare. But, hardly the minor masterpiece I was expecting.
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