Sunday, January 9, 2011

Kieth, Sam. Arkham Asylum Madness

Kieth, Sam. Arkham Asylum Madness
DC Comics see Random 2010 unp 19.99
978-1-4012-2337-3 hs/adult Graphic novel E-BN
Wow - what a Hitchcockian tour de force! The Arkham Asylum is where Batman’s evil doers have been jailed. The Joker is wrecking havoc on those who staff the asylum. Outstanding grim graphics with flashes of color add punch. The eyes say it all! Gr. 8+.
Kieth is known for his drawing and with Michelle Madsen and Dave Stewart, they have created a Alfred Hitchcock style psychological thriller whose story line does not depend on past knowledge of the Joker in the Batman series. This is a stand alone volume that grips the reader from the foreboding artwork on the cover and the one sentence on the jacket flap. The eyes of the characters show the madness in the asylum. A young nurse, Sabine, works at the asylum only for the money it provides. The sweetness of the interaction between the family as Sabine is dropped off to start work at the asylum is in stark contrast to the rundown building and dismal mindset of the staff. Past deaths in the asylum, a bleeding clock and insane inmates, including the Joker who messes with everyone’s mind, are all exposed in increasingly foreboding images that do not actually show extreme violence. What is left unsaid is more horrifying than what is shown as the reader fills in the blanks in his own mind. The Joker shows Sabine a photo of her son and obliquely threatens her son . Without giving away the ending, Sabine must decide whether to continue her work at the asylum or resign. Only a brief reference to a possibly lesbian relationship keeps this from being middle school material. Get it for students who love a psychological horror story. Grades 8+. Strongly recommended as a good psychological horror story encased in a story of Batman’s Joker who is now in an asylum for the criminally insane. The eyes of the characters reflect the lack of sanity inside the asylum. For grades 8 and up. McNicol,Lois
Batman’s Joker

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