Building on Arkham Asylum

BATMAN: GOTHIC TPB, DC Comics, 1992 (originally published in Legends of the Dark Knight #6-10, 1990)
After Arkham Asylum, Grant Morrison tackled Batman once again in Gothic, a tale of the Dark Knight's early years with art by Klaus Janson. And like Arkham, it's about buildings. Buildings empowered by blood. But then, you can't do a story called "Gothic" without gothic architecture. And such a story is a natural for Batman, a gothic creation himself, a man dressed as a creature of the night, living in a cave, in a city called GOTHam.

The villain of the piece is Mr. Whisper. Who is Whisper? Is he really a man without a shadow? An 18th-century fallen monk who sold his soul to the devil to live for 300 years? Bruce Wayne's brutal school headmaster? A serial child murderer? A killer of mob bosses who bases his murders on poetry? The architect of the Gotham's new cathedral? How about all of the above?

(The other question is: Why is Batman sitting on top of Catwoman's head on the trade paperback's cover? I'll leave that one unanswered.)

Morrison creates a creepy mystery and places his Batman in a very adult world. Your best friend in school can't just have asthma, for example, he's also got to be incontinent. Bruce's school teachers were pederasts, a mob boss has a transsexual lover, and so on. This is a grimy, often perverse Gotham, fitting the theme of the story.

And I didn't realize how nasty Gotham City was until I saw this scene where Batman is thrown off a balcony: He's always swinging from buildings in Gotham, right? Well, that may sound like your run-of-the-mill superhero stuff, but in Gotham? That's frickin' deadly, man!
In Gotham, even the architecture is trying to kill you! Ok, enough talk, here's...

A Badass Batman Moment!

Every Batman story needs at least one. Whisper (who can't die) is holding Batman on the subway tracks...
Batman actually throws himself under a train and survives!
I always knew that was possible, just never tried it myself.

And you gotta love Morrison's take on Alfred. He's just got the coldest, darkest sense of humor. Upon receiving a package with a human heart in it, he remarks: "Shall I alert the Tin Man, sir?" I'm left wondering who most "created" Batman. His parents' murder? Alfred's jokes growing up? Teachers trying to feel him up? (That last one only really explains the Dynamic Duo Batman...)


rob! said...

i always liked the way Klaus Janson drew Batman. i never realized how much he brought to the visuals of The Dark Knight Returns until I saw...DK2.


Mick said...

I remember reading Gothic when it came out back in the early days of Legends Of The Dark Knight and it blew me away then, I still reckon it's the best story arc to come from that mag.

I seem to remember it being quite shocking (I was a lot younger then, I think it must've come out in 1990? '91 maybe?) especially the torture scene, where a mobster tells the unfortunate guy he's battering with a louisville slugger (and I'm paraphrasing, can't be bothered to dig the issues out from all the other junk they're under!) "Your wife and daughter work for us, now. Movie stars." Bit shocking, that, for a Batman comic.
I also love Klaus Janson's art.

Anonymous said...

I always knew that was possible, just never tried it myself.

Happened to my dad. While working for the CN, in a snow-storm, he was run-over by a train and survived by falling between the tracks.
Unlike Batman though, he was knocked unconscious, had several of his facial bones smashed and his left arm was almost ripped off his body.


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