Batman: Arkham Asylum by Grant Morrison & Dave McKean – A Graphic Novel Review



15 years ago, this enigmatic graphic novel performed its mental autopsy on Batman and his enemies, and in doing so set both its creators on the road to greatness. In Gotham City’s home for the criminally insane, Batman confronts his arch-nemeses, including the Joker, Two-Face and more. Before the battle is over, Batman’s mental straight-jacket will have been torn apart, exposing his every weakness and bringing him far closer to his foes than he could ever possibly have wanted! To celebrate this illustrious anniversary, “Arkham Asylum” has been re-launched in this sumptuous paperback that includes Morrison’s complete script, original thumbnail breakdowns, samples of how the story and art came together, and much more!


Author: Grant Morrison

Illustrator: Dave McKean

Publisher: Titan Books Ltd (Anniversary Edition)

Release Date: 23/12/2005

Pages: 216

My Chosen Format: Paperback

My Rating of ‘Batman: Arkham Asylum’: 1 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon UKAmazon US



I always had the opinion that I would never, ever, rate a Batman graphic novel as a 1 star. But then I cracked open Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth.

There wasn’t really anything about this product that I would class as a ‘redeeming quality’. The art style wasn’t very dynamic so even when something was happening it just felt far too passive to get the pulse racing.

The character of Batman was poorly handled, in my opinion. His speech often read like that of a child. At one point the Joker was saying something and Batman just screamed ‘shut up!!!!!’ …oh yea, you tell him Batman. You make the Joker feel all bad for speaking.

Due to the painted style of the artwork, it was often difficult to get a full grasp of what was going on, especially due to the drastically different way the Joker was coloured. Compared to the dark, dreary colours of the rest of the artwork, the Joker was bright and lavish and everything in his panels seemed to blend horribly in together. And that’s not even mentioning the wording …which is so badly laid out that it takes a real effort to understand what is being said. The Joker’s speech is by far the most laborious and annoying to read.

I get it. The Joker is absolutely raving mad. And the artwork conveys that. Sadly, I felt as though I had to be raving mad to fully understand his panels.

We also have the flashbacks of Amadeus Arkham which told his life story from child to creator of the Arkham Asylum. These flashbacks, I had hoped, would save me from the tedium of the main story. Sadly, they only added to said tedium.

A graphic novel, for me, is something that a reader should be able to fly through. Lots of pretty pictures, not much text but a whole lot of story should be able to be gleamed from both. Sadly, with this one, I found myself closing the book after five or six pages and leaving it for a few days.

I didn’t even finish it this time around. I did, however, finish it a good five or so years ago (and hated it then). I just thought that maybe I had been too harsh on it and decided to give it another try.

It will not be getting a third try.

So yea, the first Batman graphic novel I hated with an all-consuming passion.

12 thoughts on “Batman: Arkham Asylum by Grant Morrison & Dave McKean – A Graphic Novel Review

    1. Its one of those that splits opinion. On a lot of the reviews I have since looked at, it says a good amount of negative comments about the text like mine did. One review says ‘only read this if you like weird stuff. Really weird stuff, 😂

      Liked by 1 person

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