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Review: Batman Arkham Asylum by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean

Hello everyone!

This semester UOttawa decided to start teaching a comic books and graphic novels class so obviously I signed up. Within the first hour or so of the course being available it wad totally full. On the first day of class there were multiple students who showed up to talk to the professor personally in order to try and get into the class.

Anyways, one of the graphic novels we studied is Batman Arkham Asylum by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean.

Release Date: November 18th, 2014

My Rating: 3.9/5


This actually isn’t one of the novels I was most excited about but it’s the one I ended up liking the most. First thing I was to say about it is the art is mind-blowing. If you appreciate art in any way than I have no doubt you will find this interesting. The illustrator is Dave McKean and apparently he went a little rogue on his designs because Morrison  wanted something a little more realistic and literal… if you have a look at this novel you will notice that’s more obscure and ambiguous. Even though McKean went a little abstract it still turned out amazing, I mean look at this portrayal of the Joker!


Now that I’ve said the art is amazing I’m going to touch on the fact that the abstraction of the art did make the progression of the story a little difficult to piece together. I found that even though this novel was actually quite short it took me a lot longer to read than it should have because some of the panels were difficult to make out. I had to spend quite a bit of time trying to figure out what some things were and how they applied to the scene, etc. I also found that some information was left out. Not that it skipped anything but going from panel to panel I felt like I needed to figure out what was going on between the lines in order to figure out what was going on. For example in some of the fight scenes I couldn’t tell who was hitting who because things were very abrupt and vague.

Now that I’ve basically dug a hole for this novel I would also like to say that I really liked it. I thought that the really small details were so well thought out that most people wouldn’t even notice them. The side story of the founder of the asylum was so interesting and kind of terrifying. It very swiftly switched back and forth between stories that you didn’t even notice it. In the edition that I have (the 25th anniversary edition) you can read Morrison’s VERY thorough notes to the artist about the vision that he had for his words. Let me tell you they’re so cool to read. Sometimes two pages of descriptions is only describing what he wants for a couple of panels.He talked about wanting to make people feel like they were inside the Mad Hatter’s tea party from Alice in Wonderland. I found that reading Morrison’s notes about what he wanted the novel to look like really helped me understand what was going on. I think without them I would have been left wondering about quite a few things.

All in all I thought the novel was really good. It was also confusing but definitely worth a read. I think it is very unique but I must say it has a lot of rather graphic content so just be aware.

I know it may be a bit weird to do a review on a graphic novel but I’ve been picking them up a little bit more often lately and decided I wanted to write about them too. Hope you guys like it 🙂




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