Propaganda revisits the asylum

Published On October 20, 2008 | By Richard Bruton | Reviews

Batman: Arkham Asylum

by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean


The lunatics have taken over Arkham Asylum on April Fool’s Day. All they want is for Batman to come through the door and play. This is the story of the journey through that door, into the psyche of the hero, the insane and the building itself.

Arkham Asylum is a huge, multi-layered Batman book, often accused of being terribly pretentious (which is occasionally true), but it’s actually something that improves with age and, like so much of Morrison’s work, really improves with re-reading.

Batman is almost a spectator here, having little or no influence on the outcome of the story. At it’s deepest, it does away with any concept of Batman as reality; it’s all about the symbolism of the asylum, about the insanity within your own head where Batman merely represents one aspect of your imagination.

Squeeze all the meanings you can get from it. Morrison packs the books with intense symbolism, Dave McKean produces some beautiful imagery, sometimes clarifying, sometimes confusing, but always stunning.


Richard Bruton is a lifelong comics fan and former Comic Book Store Guy; you can read more of his thoughts on comics and life on his blog Fictions.

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About The Author

Richard Bruton
- Started in comics retail aged 16 at Nostalgia & Comics, Birmingham. Now located in Yorkshire, he's written for the Forbidden Planet International Blog since 2007. Specialising in UK Comics and All-Ages comics, Richard's day job in a primary school allowed him to build the best children's graphic novel library in the country.

One Response to Propaganda revisits the asylum

  1. Mike says:

    Great write-up, Richard!

    Arkham Asylum is one of my favourite graphic novels, because of its complexity and no-holds-barred artyness. Both Morrison and McKean really indulged their ambitions, and it paid off.

    I wrote a piece about it not long ago, it’s up over here –