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I'm Reading Comeeks

I dedicate this blog to comics in all forms, manga, autobio, superhero, art books, etc.  And of course, since I need a challenge, I've decided that I'll read and write (short) reviews for 365 comics during 2015.

Asylum does not always mean safety

Batman Arkham Asylum 25th Anniversary - Grant Morrison, Dave McKean

If I had to choose a favorite (mainstream) comic book hero, it would probably be Batman.  He wasn't bitten by something radioactive, he wasn't born on an alien planet where shooting laser beams from ones eyes is a normal thing, he didn't wear some prime color monstrosity emphasizing his manhood.  He can't fly, isn't faster than a speeding bullet, or covered in purple fur.  Or at least the Batman I in the animated adventures I watched after school was none of those things.


I also enjoy stories about psychology, neurology and the state of the mind in general.  That and mad science! Which means I've always had a passing interest in Arkham Asylum and what might go on there.


In this comic readers do get a glimpse of that mysterious history, a mansion converted into an insane asylum after the death of the owners disturbed mother.  The inmates, not only disturbed, but seeming to get worse in the malign influence of the house itself.  Well, kind of.


Ultimately, though impressed by the brooding art, I was disappointed by the comic.  The plot was all too predictable and the motivations lacking.  No one looks good here, Batman is weak, confused, more like a patient first entering "care" than the Dark Knight, the Joker lacks his usually edginess and Two-Face has literally wet himself.


Well, truthfully, Two Face was the only part of this book I was slightly interested in.  The good doctors at the asylum having graduated him from his two option coin, to a 6-sided die, then to a 78 card tarot deck.  Having so many possibilities, so many options, lead the poor villain to wet himself in indecision.  I'd say what he really needs is an iPhone with an app, he'd say, "Siri I have to pee what do I do!?"  She'd give him the options, "Wet yourself" "Use the Restroom" "Pee on Joker's Floor" and then shake the phone to get your randomized result.  Siri no doubt would know when fewer options would be better (i.e. when he has to pee, eat, breath, etc.).


In the end though, Batman perpetuates himself, the need for a person like him in society, he hands back Two-Face's coin, reintroducing him back to the black and white world.


Would there be a better answer to heal Two-Face?  Should doctors mess with patients like Two Face, reducing them to the point where they can't make a simple decision...


I think those thoughts although prodded by the comic, aren't well explored in it.