1989 saw the release of Batman titles like Legends of the Dark Knight, a comic book adaptation of Tim Burton’s film, and a very pretty Elseworlds one-shot, Gotham by Gaslight. It also saw the publication of the graphic novel Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, a story that takes the regular comic book format and the hard-boiled detective image of Batman, and throws them both out the window. For its 25th anniversary, DC has released a deluxe version of the title, complete with Grant Morrison’s original full script and storyboards.
The story: Joker and many of Batman’s greatest enemies are on a rampage, and Batman has been called in to rescue hostages and save the day. The kicker is that the riot is inside Arkham Asylum, and it’s the inmates themselves who have invited Batman to come home where he belongs. Grant Morrison’s first Batman title, the complicated story illustrated by Dave McKean’s fever-dream artwork has been called “groundbreaking” and “daring” by some fans, “overrated” and “a mess” by others. The comic operates on many levels and, like it or hate it, the results are pretty disturbing.