Monday, May 26, 2014

[Best of Batman] The Last Arkham by Alan Grant

This was quite a fun mystery narrative which examines the inner workings of the Arkham Asylum under the supervision of Jeremiah Arkham who inherited the place after his uncle was driven to insanity. He prides himself of being gifted with the power to see through evil and darkness in a person’s mind. His goal is to “cure” psychosis through radical and exploitative methods which he subjected some of Gotham city’s worst of the most criminally insane. A few of them are even Batman’s infamous villains. However, Dr. Arkham seems convinced that the most insane of them all is no other than Batman and he captures him and tries to reverse the madness which does not go well at all.

The story is pretty simplistic in structure and also includes a murder mystery and a conspiracy design. Divided in four parts, it remains faithful to the Batman mythos in a sense that it’s very explorative of his psyche and it’s refreshing to see the dark knight in stressful situations which tested his resilience and spirit. The introduction of Jeremiah Arkham was an absolute delight. He believes he has Batman pegged and that he is the main reason why criminality is rampant in Gotham because his very presence, according to him, only encourages the maniacs to act out violently. I can quite agree on those terms, seeing that Batman does actually enable his villains to keep coming back for more considering his moral code is never to kill, only to injure. An admirable stand for sure, but a very problematic result for the people of Gotham. Still, it’s just one of the reasons to admire Batman: he never loses control over himself even though this story was able to tap on that psychology of his that is just as complex and twisted as the villains he fights. The fact that he shares this unique brand of madness with the criminals is saying something.

I like that the negative impact of vigilantism in a personal level for Bruce Wayne is examined here, as well as the appearance of Nightwing (former Robin, Dick Grayson) who provides other insights about Batman, considering he was like a son to Bruce for so many years. This was a really good piece of work. I definitely want to read more about Arkham after this.


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