Home > comics, review > ‘Batman: Arkham Asylum’: a comics review

‘Batman: Arkham Asylum’: a comics review

Batman: Arkham Asylum is without a doubt one of the more unique moments in Batman and DC comics in general. Writer Grant Morrison described the work as an attempt to break away from the ‘logical left-brained’ narratives of the late ’80s for something more ’emotional’ and ‘right-brained.’ This is evident throughout the comic itself. And with that, let’s look at Batman: Arkham Asylum.


Many readers reading Arkham Asylum would find some similarities plot-wise with the video game of the same title. Indeed, there are several points of the plot that influenced that of the video game. However, when Morrison said this was an emotional work, he didn’t mean in the sense of character drama, but of visceral reaction. The reaction isn’t intended in the writing itself, but the atmosphere of the work. Morrison does a good job at framing this, but the writing is fairly grounded and linear. It’s an interesting story, but nothing quite reactive emotionally.


Instead, this reaction comes from Dave Mckean’s art. McKean is well known for his artistic contributions to Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series. The similarities to that work are evident in the art here. McKean’s art isn’t something one would normally expect from a Batman comic , but it helps establish the intense atmosphere. McKean is the ideal artist to illustrate a Batman comic focusing on madness in a pure form. This comic can be difficult to read at times because of the art, but that just means McKean is successfully creating that intense visceral atmosphere that Morrison described.

Final Opinion:

Batman: Arkham Asylum isn’t a comic for everyone. Not only in the sense of it being a Batman comic, but for its more emotional and visceral response than a more plot driven Batman work. McKean’s visceral art style can make it difficult to read, it’s imagery can just as intense at moments as well. If you want a more visceral experience, or another way of seeing Batman in comics, then I would recommend Arkham Asylum. But not because you liked the video game. This is definitely a unique comic experience and well worth it if you undergo it.

Batman is owned by DC comics. Batman: Arkham Asylum is written by Grant Morrison, with art by Dave McKean.

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