A review by neenor
Batman: Arkham Asylum - A Serious House on Serious Earth, by Grant Morrison


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.