The Batman of Arkham |
Alan Grant, writer,
(DC Comics, 2000)
Batman has had plenty of close encounters with the infamous Arkham Asylum. In this Elseworlds tale, circa 1900, Bruce Wayne runs the place -- a respected psychiatrist by day and a vigilante helping to fill the asylum's cells by night. His treatments are thorough and compassionate, a significant change from usual portrayals of the asylum, and he measures a fair success rate with his patients.
Meanwhile, the Joker is spreading his maniacal brand of madness through the city, and Jonathan Crane (in modern stories, the Scarecrow) is a subordinant member of the asylum staff with his own views on patient care. When Wayne falls victim to the Joker and is left in a manic state, Crane has the chance to work his harsher will on the patients.
This is a good story with appropriate atmosphere, but it attempts too much in 48 pages. We are expected to come to know this Elseworlds variations on so many characters -- also including Two-Face, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, Scarface and the Ventriloquist, Dick Grayson, Commissioner Gordon and Alfred -- in such a limited span that the story itself never achieves much depth. Basically, Grant sets up the situation, allows a brief plot to develop with a few fisticuffs and gimmicks, and then it's over.
[ by Tom Knapp ]