Batman: Arkham Manor
Written By: Gerry Duggan
Art By: Shawn Crystal
Distributed By: DC Comics
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
When I saw the title of one of the new Batman graphic novels offered up by DC Comics, I thought, "Hmmm. Arkham Manor? What happened to the asylum?" Then I saw the cover and the fact that 'Wayne' had been crossed out and 'Arkham' painted on above it and I knew I just had to read it. Compiling Issues 1-6 of the Arkham Manor comic book series in The New 52 era, this graphic novel looked to be very interesting.
As the story opens, we learn that Arkham Asylum has been destroyed, left a burning rubble. With no place to contain all of Gotham's criminally insane, the Mayor is at his wits end, but a solution is about to come into play. Wayne Manor has been abandoned for some time and the Mayor decides to use the rule of eminent domain to take it over and create a new asylum.
Bruce Wayne has no objections to the takeover. Having sealed the Batcave so no one can enter it from inside the Manor, Bruce believes that this is for the best. That is, until one of the inmates is found tortured and murdered inside Arkham Manor. Knowing he won't get any answers as Batman on this case, Bruce assumes the identity of someone else, a homeless man with violent tendencies sent to Arkham for a psychiatric evaluation.
Can Bruce Wayne solve the mysterious murder of an inmate who was locked alone in his cell or will he find himself one of the victims of this depraved killer?
Reading this graphic novel, right off the bat I noticed something wrong. What happened to the artwork? Why did Batman look...I don't know...like a member of the Munster family? It looked like Fred Gwynne had donned the Batsuit and modeled for the artist. What is this? Still, despite the artwork, the story idea was interesting enough, so I kept reading.
I did enjoy the group therapy sessions featuring Scarecrow and Mr. Freeze (loved the fact that Mr. Freeze had to use a robot to attend as he was locked in a containment freezer). I also liked the weird Clayface/Clown monster. But, in the end, the story was a complete letdown, especially when you found out just who the killer was. The side story involving the patient who had been buried inside Arkham Asylum when it was first destroyed and believed himself already dead was interesting, but not interesting enough for me to say that I truly loved this story.
All-in-all, Arkham Manor is a graphic novel with good intentions, but lousy artwork and a letdown as far as the solution to the murder mystery goes. Thus, I would deem it not worthy of the asking price of $15.00...perhaps a good bargain hunter could add this to their collection for less and still get a little bit of enjoyment out of the read without depleting their bank account.