cyberghostface: (Two-Face)
[personal profile] cyberghostface posting in [community profile] scans_daily


"I'd also like to stress that the portrayal of Batman presented here is not definitive and is not necessarily how I would write the character otherwise. The repressed, armoured, uncertain and sexually frozen man in Arkham Asylum was intended as a critique of the '80s interpretation of Batman as violent, driven and borderline psychopathic. My own later portrayal of Batman in the JLA comic was one which emphasized the character's sanity and dignity; in the end, I figured that anyone who had gone so far and been so successful in his quest to avenge his parents' death and to help other people would have ended up pretty much straightened out. Bruce Wayne would only have become conflicted and mentally unstable if he had NOT put on his scary bat-suit and found the perfect outlet for his feelings of rage, guilt and revenge." - Grant Morrison

As an introduction I'd add that if this is your first time reading this and if you like it, you should definitely seek out the full version. There's an entire subplot involving the origins of Arkham Asylum and the recent editions include the script with commentary that explain all the psychological and religious symbolism and what the heck is going on.

The story begins with Gordon telling Batman than the inmates have taken over Arkham Asylum and are holding everyone hostage. Their final request is Batman.















An interesting aside: the original script had Joker dressed up like Madonna from the 'Open Your Heart' music video.





















































l
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Date: 2017-05-29 12:54 am (UTC)
alicemacher: Lisa Winklemeyer from the webcomic Penny and Aggie, c2004-2011 G. Lagacé, T Campbell (Default)
From: [personal profile] alicemacher
The ending--with Harvey having gone from so broken he can't decide whether to use the toilet, to so together he actually rejects the coin-flip result in favour of what he knows is right--is one of the most poignant in any Batman story I've read.

On another note, I've never been sure whether Joker in that Madonna bustier would've been the worst idea ever, or the best. Also, "Loosen up, tight ass!" still makes me giggle.

Date: 2017-05-29 02:39 am (UTC)
informationgeek: (Octavia)
From: [personal profile] informationgeek
God I hate this comic. I just hate this because of how incomprehensible it is to read. I can barely follow along with what's going on at any given point due to this art, the dialogue switches between okay to exposition vomiting and or puking, I felt so cold and empty feeling the entire way, and I could not get into this version of Batman. I get that this is Grant's viewpoint of Batman during the 80's, but the point where I just could not remotely get into Batman at all was when Joker killed the guard after a long buildup with his joke and gets no f**king reaction out of Batman. Just flat out nothing.

And while I like the lettering a lot, it's really hard to read or understand at points, making the book a chore to slog through I find.

Honestly, I hate Arkham Asylum. It's easily one of the worst Batman comics I ever read in my entire life and that includes Finch's Dark Knight, Fortunate Son, Dark Knight Strikes Again, ASBAR, and the issue of Batman Incorporated that gave me a headache due to the visuals (have not read Hush Returns or all of War Games).
Edited Date: 2017-05-29 02:41 am (UTC)

Date: 2017-05-29 03:23 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] lego_joker
Funnily enough, I read somewhere that DC was originally going to get some super-realistic artist (names like Dave Gibbons and Brian Bolland were bandied about) to draw this. I'm not sure whether that would've killed the fever-dream atmosphere or just made it ten times worse.

As for the book itself - I don't particularly love or hate it, but I feel it's best understood as something invested in atmosphere, not a coherent plot or characters. (I recall that Morrison's annotated script ends on a note along the lines of "One can almost imagine an 'epilogue' page where Bruce Wayne wakes up sweating at 3am. He subsequently becomes the Zen warrior of my JLA book".)

Date: 2017-05-29 06:08 am (UTC)
lissa_quon: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lissa_quon
While I appreciate the art and what it's trying to do - boy howdy can I not read the lettering. I recall flipping through this - multiple times, this was one of the few comics my local library had when I was younger, but never quite getting what the hell was going on.

Date: 2017-05-30 12:06 pm (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
I think the hard to read lettering is deliberate, because the intent is that the Joker is not the easiest person to understand (Well, in this iteration, back in the day he was quite straightforward)

Date: 2017-05-29 07:37 am (UTC)
commodus: (Default)
From: [personal profile] commodus
I adore the artwork, don't get me wrong. But I honestly never want to read another story where the Joker shows up and essentially starts shouting: "Look at me! I'm crazy1 WOOOO! See how crazy I am? I'm crazy!"
It's immature writing, and it trivilialises mental illness.
The scenes with Two-Face are far more humane. Showing that his condition is truly sapping away his happiness and dignity, and that he is in need of help.

Re-reading it, I honestly think you could cut out The Joker entirely and the story might be a lot better for it.

Date: 2017-05-30 12:07 pm (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
Yeah, the Joker does have a tendency to get tiresome when he's turned up to 11 ALL THE DAMN TIME!

I hadn't thought about him NOT being in the story, but I see what you mean, as an examination of Batman's OTHER villains it's a lot more interesting.

Date: 2017-05-29 08:21 am (UTC)
shakalooloo: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shakalooloo
Is the Mad Hatter MEANT to look like Sid James?

Date: 2017-05-29 01:03 pm (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
With the "I'm so glad you could make it" panel it does seem rather close doesn't it, and with Dave McKean you never know.

(Strangely, I hear him sounding more like Charles Hawtrey)

Date: 2017-05-29 11:38 am (UTC)
mrosa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mrosa
The repressed, armoured, uncertain and sexually frozen man in Arkham Asylum was intended as a critique of the '80s interpretation of Batman as violent, driven and borderline psychopathic.

I remember these words of his from a couple of years ago; I remember feeling sorry for Morrison for how his life was becoming a comic book more and more, what with him retconning himself. But perhaps he'd find that a compliment.

Anybody who reads his early comics: Animal Man, Zenith, Doom Patrol, and of course Arkham Asylum can see that he was writing in lockstep with the post-Moore/Miller trends of making superheroes a bit darker, more grounded, and looking at things from a "How would this work in the real world?" perspective. Then somewhere in the 1990s, I think beginning with Flex Mentallo, he decided to revamp himself as the Last Guardian of the Silver Age and to wage a one-man's war against the grimdark.

So I understand if it's a bit embarrassing to have those early missteps in his biography. I'd still prefere if he owned up to them. Change is good. Although, of course, what would a comic book writer know about change?

I won't even get int the fact that Morrison's interpretation of the interpreation of Batman in the 1980s is way off the mark, and that if anything contributed to create the psycopathic, sexually frozen, driven Batman that he was criticizing, was precisely Arkham Asylum. But why bother? It's not like anybody has a memory in this medium. One of the things I've learned over the years from reading too many dirges from nostalgics like Moore and Morrison, is that everybody remembers the 1980s as a darker and crappier than it was.

Date: 2017-05-29 01:23 pm (UTC)
leoboiko: manga-style picture of a female-identified person with long hair, face not drawn, putting on a Japanese fox-spirit max (Default)
From: [personal profile] leoboiko
Although, of course, what would a comic book writer know about change?


I weep for American mainstream comics (specifically). How badly they suffer for the lack of actual endings to their stories, condemned to the same characters forever…

Date: 2017-05-29 01:23 pm (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
Not sure I'd entirely agree with that, his "Animal Man" goes to some lengths to point out that the "darker tone" just doesn't work with Buddy, and that attempts to do that to him fail (Hence his wife and kids being restored) and also features cameos by many Silver Age characters in Limbo

Date: 2017-05-29 02:12 pm (UTC)
deathcrist2000: (Default)
From: [personal profile] deathcrist2000
And saying Zenith and Doom Patrol are part of that trend instead of reacting to it is a bit off given that the former is blatantly a response to Miracleman and the latter, while dark, is not in the same camp as, say, The Dark Knight Returns as that series' idea of realism is "Batman is a fascist, isn't that awesome" whereas Doom Patrol's is "There are alternate, sexualities, lifestyles, and mental behaviors, isn't that amazing."

Date: 2017-05-29 07:40 pm (UTC)
mrosa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mrosa
Not sure I'd entirely agree with that, his "Animal Man" goes to some lengths to point out that the "darker tone" just doesn't work with Buddy, and that attempts to do that to him fail (Hence his wife and kids being restored).

The darker tones were working very well with Buddy until Morrison undid everything. If that final issue hadn't existed, Animal Man would have been a superhero with a tragedy in his life like so many others, neither better nor worse for it. Buddy could have been replaced with many other B-list superheroes, and either possibility would have worked just as well: either a metafictional deus ex machina, or a permanent tragedy. Ultimately, it just depends on the writer's skills. It's a testament to Morrison's talent that he's managed to make you think that Buddy is unsuitable for the grimdark treatment, but the truth is that you read Morrison destroying his life one issue at a time and you never thought there was anything wrong with that. And if that final issue hadn't existed, if Buddy had just gone on grieving, perhaps issues later shacked up with a superheroine, you'd have found that plausible and organic. Come on, own up.

And saying Zenith and Doom Patrol are part of that trend instead of reacting to it is a bit off given that the former is blatantly a response to Miracleman and the latter, while dark, is not in the same camp as, say, The Dark Knight Returns as that series' idea of realism is "Batman is a fascist, isn't that awesome" whereas Doom Patrol's is "There are alternate, sexualities, lifestyles, and mental behaviors, isn't that amazing."

Zenith wasn't just a "response" (or a critique, as I think you mean it); it heavily borrows from Miracleman. I've actually read the first two volumes earlier this month, although I've skimmed the whole series, and it's rather fresh in my memory. From St. John using his telepathic powers to manipulate voters (shades of Miracleman there), to Zenith being a mockery of superheroics (which is the path Giffen & DeMatteis preferred in JLI), Morrison's series was heavily steeped in the trend of breaking up the superhero formula and rebuilding it with a closer consideration for how the physics, ethics, politics and psychology of superheroics would work. Morrison, like Moore, restricts the number of superheroes; and the few who exist all exist thanks to shady special agencies; there's legislation banning superhero science; and the remaining ones are under surveillance. Also, they didn't have secret identities, and some had even aged, and in one case one had even become a worthless drunk. Many of these ideas have come to dominate current comics (SHRA, superheroes going public, superheroes being sanctioned by government).

Also, Morrison once took credit for changing superhero fashion in the 1980s; according to himself, he was the one who introduced jackets (which would later become shoulderpads an pouches - his role in influencing the likes of Liefeld remains to be studied), and you can see that Animal Man, Zenith and several Doom Patrollers all share a certain disdain for colorful costumes - the same colorful costumes Morrison a few years ago lamented had gone out of fashion because of grimdark. Well, you can't have your cake and eat it.

As for celebrating alternative sexual lifestyles of Doom Patrol, I didn't think women suffering from childhood sexual abuse was an alternative lifestyle worth celebrating, but it sure was the kind of grim and dark stuff you'd expect to see in 1980s comics. Crazy Jane is the reason Morrison should never have opened his mouth when he criticized Alan Moore, considering that rape or rape attempts are also to be found in Animal Man, Arkham Asylum, and Kid Eternity (which turned a Golden Age character into a rape victim), which creates too big a pattern for anyone to continue to believe that it was just Morrison poking fun at the dark and grim trends of the 1980s. Let's just accept that once upon a time Grant Morrison was invested in this kind of rather daring, innovative storytelling, and that eventually he got tired and has been trying to make amends. But let's not sweep it all under the rug. He wrote what he wrote, he doesn't need excuses, and he doesn't need others to whitewash what he did.

Date: 2017-05-30 12:17 pm (UTC)
icon_uk: (Katie Cook Doug)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
Given that the real architect of the pockets and pouches school of costuming seems to be Art Adams Longshot, not sure where Morrison gets to make THAT claim.

Oh, and aside from importing Longshot (Whose costume therefor is a legacy), who is the first X-mutant to actually wear a pouch-covered jacket? (Oh come on, it's me asking, who do you THINK the answer is! :) ) And it was even an Art Adams design!



I still like to think Doug's pouches were full of useful, but dull, items like snacks, spare change, pens, paper, a Phillips-head screwdriver...


Edited Date: 2017-05-30 12:20 pm (UTC)

Date: 2017-05-30 07:41 pm (UTC)
mrosa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mrosa
Given that the real architect of the pockets and pouches school of costuming seems to be Art Adams Longshot, not sure where Morrison gets to make THAT claim.

It's what he stated; I don't care if it's true or false, although it wouldn't surprise me if he's wrong; for me it's only interesting for 2 reasons:

1) It shows that Morrison himself believes he once upon wrote in synch with the trend of grounding superheroes in more realistic looks and functional costumes, and so his remaking his past self as a critic of the grimdark is shameless revisionism; and

2) it shows that Morrison, like Moore, has reached that stage that every vanguardist reaches wherein they start claiming authorship for everthing that was pioneering. The Dadaists and Surrealists were equally ridiculous in that department. The problem, of course, is that we don't have real comic book academics to set the record straight.

Date: 2017-05-29 02:02 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] beeyo
Anytime someone brings up Arkham Asylum I have to bring up this trailer for a fan film from years back that never got made. It's in Spanish but there subtitles. And it's amazing.

https://youtu.be/36-G8fFFJJk

Date: 2017-05-29 06:00 pm (UTC)
alicemacher: Lisa Winklemeyer from the webcomic Penny and Aggie, c2004-2011 G. Lagacé, T Campbell (Default)
From: [personal profile] alicemacher
The cinematography isn't bad, but that's the most unintentionally ridiculous-looking Joker I've ever seen. Did they just go out and buy a Hallowe'en mask or what?

Date: 2017-05-30 02:34 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] beeyo
Probably, but it always looked more like claymation to me. I know it isn't but the unnatural way that Joker's face moves makes it super creepy. Really fits the fever dream presentation of the book

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