Illustrated by Dave McKean
Many Batman titles are suggested for mature readers, and this one is no exception. However, the exploration of the human character that happens over these pages is valuable for readers looking to move past the "kid comics."
As the novel opens, we are greeted by a flashback of Amadeus Arkham, the man who founded Arkham Asylum in the early 1920s. These flashbacks appear throughout the novel, and mirror Batman's descent into the depths of his psyche. In present day, the inmates have taken over the asylum, and demand Batman come visit him, or they will start killing hostages (who are hospital employees). Batman agrees, and almost immediately is put through a test by Joker. This isn't the silly Joker of the 1960s TV show. This is the creepy Joker of Heath Ledger. Each encounter with a villain is another segment of Batman's psyche that he has to face - or be dragged into the madness with them all.
Throughout, there is much exploration on the difference between mentally sane and insane. This theme is visited in the flashbacks to Arkham himself, and in Batman's task in the asylum. Threaded throughout that discussion is a meditation on mortality. And, deep underneath the layers of Joker's madness and antics is a string of religious symbolism that tethers the mad to the world.
Here's where the "suggested for mature readers" really comes into play. This might go without saying since the Joker is involved, but there is some violence on and off page. The most violent parts of the story take place off page. There are also a few curse words. The artwork really embraces the scary clown motif, and could disturb younger readers. Recommended for readers who are looking for a deeper storyline.
Sara's Rating: 8/10
Suitability: Grades 10-12
Tags: Rating: 8/10, Suitability: High School, Comicbooks, Superheroes, Horror,
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