Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean. D C Comics, 2005.
Summary: Summoned to the facility where many of his adversaries are “treated,” Batman has to survive 24 in the besieged hospital to save the hostage staff. Pitting Batman against the likes of The Joker, Two-Face, Killer Croc, Maxi Zeus, and the Mad Hatter, Morrison parallels this struggle by recounting the history of the eponymous asylum and its founder—Dr. Amadeus Arkham, who eventually became a patient in his own hospital.
What sets Arkham Asylum apart from Morrison’s other super hero books is the deeply psychological nature of the narrative. Not only are each of Batman’s adversaries diagnosed with a specific psychological disorder, their treatment is also scientifically-based. Even the sections concerning Dr. Arkham’s history present students of psychology an eerily realistic portrait of mental health sciences at the turn of the 20th Century.
Artist Dave McKean’s art work is Impressionistic and graphic, which coupled with Morrison’s prose, creates a graphic novel that should only be read by upper-level readers.
Grade Level: High School—upper level readers recommended due to graphic content.
Discipline: English, psychology