Out with the Old, In with the Wacky-in-the-Wikky-Woo
While the Battle for the Cowl rages among Batmanâ€™s children (frankly, Iâ€™m pulling for Cassandra to become the new Batman), the house of cards that is Arkham Asylum has fallen down again, but this time it looks permanent.Â The big names have escaped and are running amuck with Black Mask, but what of those inmates hidden deep within the bowels of the Asylum?Â Oh yeah, you didnâ€™t know about those guys, did you?
The Arkham Asylum one-shot features a lot of the inner monologue of Dr. Arkham as he returns to the shattered remains of the asylum recently blown up by Black Mask.Â While he wanders the broken halls, he flashes back to the problems of the institute, and how his uncle wanted to build something completely different.
Along the way, readers are introduced to three new inmates weâ€™ve never been exposed to before.Â First up is Alessio Morandi, who had his face ripped off by an angry father, and who now expresses himself to the world by painting his featureless face.Â Next up is the Mirror Man who stumbled out of the forest years ago, and once he caught a look of himself in the mirror, canâ€™t live without seeing himself from every angle. Finally, there is the Hamburger Lady, who has such a horribly disfigured face, that it is believed anyone who looks at her will die from fright.Â All of these inmates are kept in â€œthe Holeâ€, an off-limits maximum security area of the asylum, that only Dr. Arkham has access to.Â Kind of strange that these three would make it into the off limits area, but loons like Clayface, Scarecrow, and the Joker never made it into the big leagues.
As Dr. Arkham explains how he came to deal with these three, he suddenly comes to the conclusion that he needs to follow his uncleâ€™s dream of making the asylum a place to embrace the idiosyncrasies of the inmates and let this be a haven for those who truly need a sanctuary to express diversity.Â In other words, Dr. Arkham has embraced his inmates to the point where the line between patient and doctor is completely blurred.
While this sounds like an interesting take on a new improved Arkham, I have a feeling we are being set up for another giant graphic novel that delves into the madness of the institute featuring the new Batman against an army of crazies.Â I know, sounds really familiar, doesnâ€™t it?Â That would be shades of morrison ala 1989, and remember kiddies, he is returning to the Bat title this summer.Â In a sense the three new characters could easily be replacements for The Joker, Two Face, and Clayface (or Scarecrow).Â Itâ€™s almost like DC is cleaning house and introducing a whole new group of villains for Dick to fight once he puts on the cape and cowl.
The biggest problem with the story is David Hine weaves the tale so it slips in and out of the past and present, causing the reader to momentarily wonder if there really are big name inmates still locked up in the nut-house.Â It works to show how Arkhamâ€™s mind is working, but it causes the reader to invest even more mental powers into deciphering what is going on.Â What I did like about Hineâ€™s writing is in the very beginning of the issue he is giving off a Lovecraft vibe, that it had me really excited about the rest of the issue.Â Unfortunately, all of that disappeared until the closing page when the Lovecraft style made a reappearance.
Jeremy Haunâ€™s art works in a way, but strangely it doesnâ€™t quite jive with narration, as I expected a darker tone with high contrasts ala a dark horror movie, but instead readers are presented with a two tone color scheme of browns and greens.
Why all these one-shots and specials?Â Could DC be hinting at a new direction for the Batman universe, and are prepping us for the coming shake-up, or could it be a way writers who might not normally get the chance, to work on some Batman related books?Â Â Â The answer of course is C) Theyâ€™re in it for the money.Â In any case, Arkham Asylum #1 is an issue that I think most readers could pass on and not miss a single story beat later.Â Sadly, Arkham Asylum gets a very meh rating of 2.5 Stars.