Gotham City, Wayne Manor, Blackgate, Ace Chemicals...these are all landmarks that Batman fans immediately recognize, but there is one place that is more terrifying than any of them. That place is Arkham Asylum and it is this story that seared horror into the minds of fans.
"Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth" is a dark and twisted version of Lewis Carrol's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland". It is a strange story full of nonsense and insanity, but in the asylum there is also horror and evil that threatens Batman's mind, body, and spirit.
Every time Batman battles with one of his foes, like the Joker, Two-Face, or the Scarecrow, they are sent to Arkham Asylum for treatment. In "Arkham Asylum", the inmates have taken control of the asylum and hold the doctors and nurses hostage. Besides demanding some props and costumes, the inmates have only one other demand: they ask that Batman join them.
Batman accepts the challenge and almost immediately realizes that he may have fallen into a rabbit hole that is more dangerous than he assumed. Running through the halls of the asylum, Batman faces off against inmates like the Joker, Clayface, Maxie Zeus, the Mad Hatter, and Killer Croc. Each challenge tests Batman's mind, driving him further into madness...or revealing that he's always been mad.
Besides being a story about Batman, "Arkham Asylum" also parallels Batman's journey with that of the asylum's founder, Amadeus Arkham. Amadeus is haunted by the asylum and his families history. Even though his intentions are righteous, Amadeus is pursued by spirits that will take everything he holds dear.
What makes "Arkham Asylum" a truly scary story, besides the brilliant and meaningful writing of Grant Morrison, is the beautifully horrific art of Dave McKean. McKean's Batman looks less like an ancient Greek hero, and looks more like a shadowy spirit, and his Joker looks sickly and demonic.
"Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth" is not like any other Batman story and there are very few comic books like it. The art and writing make it a unique and fantastic horror story.
I would recommend it for fans, new and old, who are looking for something different than a typical battles of fists between super humans and mutants. However, if there are any new fans who are not ready for such a strange and outlandish tale, I would recommend reading some less intense storylines before jumping into "Arkham Asylum".
ISSUE: Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth (1989)