[Dalton]’s Top Whaaat?!? Comic
Firstly, I will start this RTL with my concept of what exactly a whaaat?!? comic is. A whaaat?!? comic should be against the conventional means of comic book cliches and regularities. It should contain some form of shock value, whether that be via plot, climactic conclusion, or disturbing twist. These kinds of comics are generally not mainstream, but they are not necessarily unpopular, nor do they require a cult following. Unfortunately, I have followed the cliche and conventional comic style for most of my reading life, however loyal and extensive that reading may be. This limits my ability to follow my own qualifications, but I will do my best to be loyal to them, while also vouching for a legitimately good comic.
Batman must again face his diverse rogues gallery, this time facing them in Arkham Asylum. The Joker has led a mutiny of sorts, forcing Batman to play his game for the lives of the staff-turned-hostages. The game is simple. Batman must survive the night in the mental mayhem of Arkham Asylum and somehow retain his sanity among the insane. Batman then faces some of his greatest foes, but in an environment and perspective unlike any he has experienced before.
Obviously, I am going to start by admittedly breaking my first qualification of a whaaat?!? comic. This graphic novel is based around Batman, which follows the conventional superhero/supervillain concept that is quite literally the defining factor of a conventional comic. However, this book breaks nearly every other conventional style from there on out.
What makes Arkham Asylum one of my favorite comic book pieces is its emphasis on the psychological undertones of Batman’s villains, which are what make Batman comics so intriguing and engaging. The oil painting style of this book truly grasps the psychosis it embodies on every page. The art gives it a visceral feel unlike any comic I have ever read. Though not for everyone, the art style gives the reader a glimpse into the dialogue and monologues presented in its own impressive style.
The writing is superb, using symbolism, morbid poetry, and disturbing metaphors to provide a commentary on Batman’s darkest antagonists. It behaves like a psychologist’s wet dream mixed with his darkest nightmares, like getting a realistic look at the entries of the doctor’s notes as he pours essays of material into his journal. The reader is left feeling an impact that feels unrefined, if only for the flawless execution of the mental filth spewed from the mouths of the rogues gallery.
At times you seem to struggle along with Batman on his journey through the minds of madmen. There is no break in the dementia or mental anguish, and you are forced to endure as you sit, thankful for your now-questioned level of sanity. It’s imagery and language is unparalleled, particularly in the vision it was designed to create. Heralded as an art piece by some, and grotesque poem to others, I find the answer somewhere in between. Though the book is based loosely on the cliche principle of the comic book superhero, it takes creative freedoms down a dark path that is both beautiful and intriguing. While some original works out there could boast a less dependent literary structure, few have the thought-provoking quality of this piece.