GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW - Batman Arkham Reborn
Writer: David Hine
Artist: Jeremy Haun
Ok, first of all lets just get one thing straight. If your looking for a full on Batman story with Batman chasing down villains with a ton of action and violence, than Arkham Reborn is not the Batman graphic novel for you. However, if you like to learn about perhaps the less well known characters of the Batman world as well as Batman kicking ass, mixed in with high end drama and sense of mystery and suspense that lasts with you until the very last page, then Arkham Reborn is definitely worth your attention.
The story’s main focus is on Jeremiah Arkham, the owner and boss of the notorious mental institute for the criminally insane: Arkham Asylum. The story focuses on how Jeremiah rebuilds his Asylum in his Uncles vision hoping it will allow him to “cure” all his mentally ill patients which he naively thinks is possible. However, when accidents start occurring throughout the asylum and end up beginning to damage Jeremiahs reputation, it would seem the asylum he thinks is his, was never really his at all.
I will be completely honest, the storyline throughout the novel is fantastic. David Hine gives a brilliant insight into Jeremiah who is typically this two-dimensional character and breaths life into him and his work in the asylum. The first quarter or so of the novel focuses on establishing Jeremiah as a character and also quite nicely some of the actual inmates in the asylum. Aside from the typical psychotic patients who only intend to cause trouble, were shown some inmates who are mentally unstable but not crazy lunatic killers. One in particular I grew particularly fond of is a patient going by the name of Alessio Morandi. After a accident as a child resulting in severe facial damage, Alessio after much surgery was left unable to convey emotion through his face. However we see Jeremiah encourage Alessio to literally paint his emotions onto his own face like a canvas. I just thought the whole idea behind it was really clever and engaging.
However, of course in Gotham City, nothing remains simple and just for long. When freak accidents start happening in the asylum, including a full scale breakout in which Batman arrives to save the day, Jeremiah starts to question just what the hell is happening, and that is when this novel begins to get really interesting. The suspense and sense of mystery just grows and grows until the final few pages unravel the mystery and I was left completely impressed, I did not see it coming. Some more knowledgeable Batman fans who know a bit more about Jeremiah and his past may be able to predict what the whole mystery is towards the end of the novel, but for the less knowledgeable fans of Batman and in particular Jeremiah like me, the ending is still hard hitting and a jaw dropper.
The artwork throughout the novel however, is fairly average. Its not the best artwork iv seen by a long shot, but its not terrible either. Its as I say, just fairly average. Some characters look great, in particular villains such as Clayface and Killer Croc. However what is disappointing is that Batman throughout the scenes he is in looks very basic and stripped down. There is minimal shading and depth to him, and in many cases Batman is just washed over in one fixed colour of black making him look just not as superhero looking as I feel he is supposed to be. I guess though seeing as Batman doesn’t play a major role in the novel it can be overlooked a little, but I still do feel it lets down the comic a little bit.
Despite the average artwork, the storyline and whole mystery surrounding it makes Batman Arkham Asylum just a utterly fantastic graphic novel. I normally never read graphic novels in one go, but this novel just hooks you and I ended up reading it all in one night. Seriously, Batman Arkham Reborn is just brilliant.