Reviews

Batman: Arkham Asylum New Edition, by Grant Morrison

tinfy's review against another edition

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challenging dark medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5

feynmaniac1729's review against another edition

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dark mysterious reflective slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

adamz24's review against another edition

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4.0

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 really hard to write about this book without coming off as sort of pretentious. Grant Morrison himself comes off as sort of pretentious when he writes, introducing the copy of the final draft of the script included at the back of the soft cover, that:

"The story's themes were inspired by Lewis Carroll, quantum physics, Jung and Crowley, its visual style by surrealism, Eastern European creepiness, Cocteau, Artaud, Svankmajer, the Brothers Quay, etc. The intention was to create something that was more like a piece of music or an experimental film than a typical adventure comic book. I wanted to apprroach Batman from the point of view of the dreamlike, emotional and irrational hemisphere, as a response to the very literal, "realistic" "left-brain" treatment of superheroes which was in vogue at the time, in the wake of THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, WATCHMEN, and others."

or in the script and footnotes, where he explains a fuckton of the symbolism etc. and occasionally comes off as very clever and occasionally as maybe well read but not all that smart (i.e. inevitably pretentious). That this stuff is in the script is mostly fine, but he uses the footnotes to provide 'insight' to us as well, like when he talks about how the story's construction is based on the architecture of a house, and how the journey of the book is like moving through the floors of a house itself.

Some of the footnotes are useful, however. Morrison's clarification of his characterization of Batman in Arkham Asylum is especially worth noting, considering how often that is used as a criticism of Morrison's writing here.

I would not suggest reading the script/footnotes. It does nothing to enhance the experience and everything to degrade it. Imagine watching a comedic film and being given an annotated copy of the script at the end, a copy that explains every joke in detail.

The effect of Arkham Asylum in itself is exhilirating. It's not in that frustrating 'not your daddy's Batman' category of The Dark Knight or something, it's just unlike any other Batman story. It's not supposed to be like any other Batman story. It does feel more like watching an 'art film' than reading even a very good comic book/'graphic novel.' All that pretentious blabber I quoted from Morrison up there, it's true. All of it. It came out exactly as planned (actually, probably better than planned considering some of the imagery).

It's tremendous and transcendent.

jacquilynn's review against another edition

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3.0

I'm a little conflicted on this one. Some of the artwork, especially the flashback scenes, is absolutely is incredible. I hope to never read anything with red writing outlined in white ever again. I am not color blind but I had some serious issues trying to read some of the Joker's dialogue and almost skipped it because of it. Some of the early action was just like villain done villain done, it feels like it went too quickly. Then the end had a great build up and again just seemed to stop. I have an issue with the last page. The Joker has a cryptic last word and it should have ended there, maybe it's my experience with the comics but this one left me a bit confused- is it a cliffhanger or not? It's worth a read if only for the backstory of Amadeus Arkham.

foxlyn_wren's review against another edition

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adventurous dark mysterious sad fast-paced

5.0

xantaranth's review against another edition

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adventurous dark slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

neenor's review against another edition

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4.0

I bet you're looking at the front cover of this book and thinking, Nina, what you doing, gurl? Yes, I know this looks incredibly out of place among the love stories and the YA novels, but I just had to write a review on this graphic novel! Yes, the cat is out of the bag - I have an obsession with comic books, especially anything Marvel and Batman. My dad bought me Arkham Asylum for Christmas after my request, and I screamed I was so excited. What is possibly better than a Batman comic? Oh yeah; a Batman comic with The Joker as one of the main characters!

I have to say, what first attracted me to the book was the cover. It's gorgeous. I'm sure a lot of you reading this won't be that keen on the actual storyline, as I have to say it is a bit wacky and out there. But you've got to admire McKean's artwork; it is gorgeous. His interpretation of the different characters is unique and amazing. The Joker, for instance, I found was so accurate, yet he made him his own - McKean contorted and twisted his features, made the skin around his eyes very red and strained, made him look even creepier than usual. It was like something out of a horror story, which I felt fit together well with the history of the Asylum, which is what the story is based around.

Admittedly, I did find it difficult to follow at some points. Some of the storyboards were all over the place - some might argue that, again, it situated the mania of the Asylum, but personally I found it a challenge at times to understand what was going on - and that's not something you want in any story, especially a graphic novel. I liked that for the different character's lines, McKean changed the writing style and the speech bubbles - however, I found some of it just too difficult and stylized to read. One of these was The Joker's - it was red and stylized, which situated his attitude, but considering that a) he was one of the main characters, and b) a lot of the pages were black or dark, it was stupidly hard to read what he was saying, and I actually found myself squinting, which was a shame. Well thought-out, but just not carried out quite right.

Now onto the actual author, Grant Morrison. I loved the plot - it was the kind of thing that I always wanted to happen in one of the films; Batman has to confront practically all his enemies at once. I mean, who doesn't want to see all of them in one room? The Batman world has always had fabulous villains, ranging widely. Seeing them all together was something I just couldn't afford to miss out on. However, I think it fell a bit flat, which was disappointing. None of the characters - not even the Joker or Batman - were properly developed or at least not to their full potential. I was expecting to learn a lot more about their backgrounds, and the different aspects of their madness...but no. We learnt a bit about Two-Face, a tiny bit about Batman, and most about the Arkham family - but still not enough. Looking at it from just a story perspective, it was disappointing.

Overall, the graphics were gorgeous and the initial idea was fabulous. However, I feel as if the graphics were created with the script in mind, and that how the reader would cope with it wasn't considered - which was a shame, because if it had been easier to read this, I think I would have had to rate it five stars. For my first graphic novel, it was good - but it just needed something extra.

bookwormerica's review against another edition

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1.0

Eh. I wanted to like it. But I didn't. Hard to read. I didn't find a plot. I didn't know what was going on. Not even in a fun way.

dozmuttz's review against another edition

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3.0

Starting off the spooky season with a pretty respected read. Batman: Arkham Asylum shows us the horrors of what happens behind closed doors as well as the back story of its creator. Batman has to go in after patients escape and led by the Joker; hold hostages to lure Batman. The other part of the story is us seeing the tragic origin of Amadeus Arkham as it all comes full circle to what's happening with the escape. All in all the story is passable, but nothing great. Grant Morrison's writing is good however the overall plot didn't piece together too well. At times it felt like it was trying too hard with the only part interesting to me being when we read about Amadeus. It just felt scattered at times only for the end result to be "meh". The artwork by Dave McKean, although I can appreciate, is just not my cup of tea. Like at all. I don't like it. lol. I like what the story tried to do and at times it hit well however overall it was just alright.

deadearbuds's review against another edition

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5.0

putting what you’re all arguing over about characterization aside, this book was amazing