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Batman: Arkham Asylum - A Serious House on Serious Earth

(Batman: One-Shots)

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  57,029 ratings  ·  1,848 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 en ...more
Paperback, 15th Anniversary Edition, 216 pages
Published January 11th 2005 by DC Comics (first published 1989)
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G. Salter If you're not used to comic books with surreal/abstract art and like to understand everything you read, I suggest you read it slowly and get the 15th-…moreIf you're not used to comic books with surreal/abstract art and like to understand everything you read, I suggest you read it slowly and get the 15th-anniversary edition, which includes the original script in case you get confused.(less)
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 ·  57,029 ratings  ·  1,848 reviews

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Dec 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: comix
The Caped Crusader with footnotes!?!

or Art for Art’s Sake.

or Holy Histrionics, Batman, I’d rather have listened to an opera…

Grant Morrison gets “serious” – it’s even mentioned in the title twice in case you need a reminder – and if Carrot Top wants to star in a remake of Death of a Salesman or Billy Joel wants to write a concerto for flugelhorn and triangle, I don’t want to hear about it.

Wait, Jeff, did you say footnotes?

Yes, Goodreader, this is why I love you, because nothing ever gets by you.
Nov 12, 2012 rated it did not like it
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...
May 28, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
May 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
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

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 letterin
Alex ☣ Deranged KittyCat ☣

I'm not quite sure how I feel about Batman: Arkham Asylum. The story isn't to my liking (although the Joker grabbing Batman's arse is something one doesn't see often).

Also, I found the art style too weird.

Gianfranco Mancini

Absolutely not just a graphic-novel.

This is a dream-like lynchian descent into madness.

Best Dark Knight story ever with "The Dark Knight returns" and "The Killing Joke".

A masterwork.
Sam Quixote
Oct 16, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Andrew Webb
Jul 14, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Brett C
Jun 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novels
"Until the night of 1901, when I first caught a glimpse of that other world. The world of the dark side."

From these lines on the first page, I knew this was going to be a dark ride. The artwork from the inside front-cover to the inside back-cover helped maintain continuity of oppressive psychological heaviness. It was fun to read and look at the unique artwork because of the various references and symbolisms.

I enjoyed this one from start to finish. The inmates of the infamous Arkham Asylum have
Jan 26, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Dec 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
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
Briar's Reviews
I love comic books, but this one didn't do it for me.

I didn't like the art style, even if it was quite beautiful. For me, this style of comic didn't do Batman justice. It seemed very messy to me, and it didn't let me focus. I think this art style could work well with other characters, but not one where I want to pay attention to detail. It just felt to fuzzy.

There's footnotes in this edition, which seems really weird to me. Why does a comic book need footnotes? Shouldn't you be able to get the p
Jul 18, 2015 rated it it was ok

I did not like this mess of a book. There isn't much of a plot. The artwork and lettering is undecipherable. I understand that Morrison is trying to do a dark ethereal fantasy symbolic of Batman's psychosis, while giving Arkham Asylum a "creepy crawly" history, but that's not really enough for an entire book.
Mar 29, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics
Ok. I've heard about this title and I know there is a videogame inspired by this comic, but I never seen nothing, before today. While I was out of home, I stopped to comic book store, searching some good comics and I bought this.

The story start with patients of Arkham Asylum, many of them caught by Batman, that have took possession the building. The Dark Night is forced to enter, giving himself for the hostages, putting himself in the hands of his enemies. I read many favorite comments about thi
Feb 25, 2016 rated it liked it
I've read this twice now and i still can't decide whether i like this or not, whether it just leaves me confused or making me feel like an old lady trying to fucking read what the fuck Joker is saying!?

The art is mayhem it sets the story up perfectly and it is beautifully if not hauntingly done so. I do think the artwork is better than the actual story though, and maybe the plot relies on the artwork too much as it's not the strongest plot and the ending is pretty weak too. Saying that i did rea
Oct 08, 2008 rated it liked it
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.
Jul 23, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: graphic-novels
Worst Batman comic by far.I didn't like it's highly praised painted art style and I hated how Batman is portrayed.Bruce Wayne, man who is mentally and physically trained to perfection, man who's contingency plans have contingency plans just walks in and surrenders to Joker and becomes poor victim in this wannabe horror.
Dec 17, 2007 rated it did not like it
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
Kosta Voukelatos
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"Arkham is a Looking Glass"
-this specific line encapsulated what I believed to be one of the key purposes of this graphic novel which was to use Arkham Asylum as a means of delving into the psyche of Batman and making the readers question whether Batman is any more sane than the inmates of the asylum. This was accomplished through the incorporation of many villains from Batman's rogue gallery with the most notable being the Joker and Two-Face. The Joker was drawn in such a way that he came acros
Apr 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Batman: Arkham Asylum is a very controversial comic book. Many full-fledged fans of the Caped Crusader hate this tale for its pretentiousness and over-the-top art style. Many comic book newbies find it way too inaccessible and nearly incomprehensible. And artsy people, like myself, just love it to death.
Sometimes... sometimes I think the Asylum is a head. We're inside a huge head that dreams us all into being. Perhaps it's your head, Batman. Arkham is a looking glass... and we are you.
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics
A serious house on serious earth it is,
In whose blent air all our compulsions meet,
Are recognised, and robed as destinies.
And that much never can be obsolete,
Since someone will forever be surprising
A hunger in himself to be more serious,
And gravitating with it to this ground,
Which, he once heard, was proper to grow wise in,
If only that so many dead lie round.

-Philiph Larkin "Church Going"

In 1989, Grant Morrison took a great deal of LSD and smoked a lot of weed and created one of the oddest, dist
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
Nov 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.

And it tests the boundaries of your comfort zone.

I adore every twisted page. They have a rich and dark quality. My mind is full of dark thoughts. I only think in black.
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
My dislike of this book borders on violent. I realize what the author and artist were going for, and I appreciate the foreward and even the screenplay with commentary. I admit I gave up on reading the whole screenplay because I was tired and wasn't feeling well, and felt my time was better spent moving on. However, even gaining insight into their thought processes didn't make me like this book any more.

I am an artist, and I love art. However, I am not a fan of art becoming so all-consuming that
Tokio Myers
Aug 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dc-comics
Once again Grant Morrison proves my theory that he just shouldn't write batman comics. Seriously, Batman just stands there and let's Joker and all them do stuff to him. Yep that's totally the Batman I know, not. Oh and Batman is crazy, thanks for telling me Mr. Morrison; I know how much you like to bring it up since every Batman comic you write about you have to mention it. Talk about beating a horse to death

I did some what enjoy Dave McKean's artwork kind of reminds me of Kingdom Come, but the
Jesse A
Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
Unfortunately one of GMs more out there works. Not a fan of the art either.
Max Tsudowood
Dec 03, 2019 rated it liked it
It's style over substance but David McKean's style is phenomenal. Featuring surreal and haunting images with deep blacks and ingenious use of vertically elongated panels, which evoke dynamism of characters and claustrophobia within readers, the art complements, even amplify, the strangeness surrounding Batman's descend into the infamous mental asylum as well as the its founder's misinterpretation with reality as he spends much time in the building. Grant Morrison's attack on certain aspects of B ...more
Sep 01, 2011 rated it liked it
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
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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

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