Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

I Hate Arkham

Chris Weston has an interesting post here in which he argues that Batman should kill the Joker.

I disagree strongly of course, because I don't think Batman ought to be killing. Not that I have anything against superheroes killing, mind, but I think Batman, as a character, skirts the line of "going too far" awful close sometimes. I think his intention not to kill is one of the few things keeping him on this side of the line.

Batman strikes me as the sort of fellow that needs those self-imposed boundaries or else he simply won't be able to function.

That said, the whole psychopathic murderer that's impossible to contain and breaks out all the time IS a problem. I certainly wouldn't be adverse to seeing heroes who ARE willing to exert lethal force actually deal with him. (Though I admit, I'd doubt it'd stick. It's comics and all. You kind of HAVE to have the recurring villains.)

What I'd like to see, and I'm fairly certain I've said this before on the blog, is Bruce Wayne actually put some money into Arkham to make it something that doesn't look like an early twentieth century house-of-horrors. Seriously, it's the sort of place you expect to hear someone screaming "IT'S ALIVE" during a thunderstorm, after they're done brutally electroshocking the patients and the like, of course.

Not to mention, I don't think "Asylum" is necessarily PC anymore. The connotations, you know. Besides, aren't places like that supposed to try to treat the mentally ill? Instead, all we get are mental health professionals losing their own minds. And who can blame them, working in a place like that. The place probably feeds into the delusions of the mad and breeds them into everyone else.

Sure these people are criminally insane lunatics, but Arkham is a lawsuit waiting to happen. You can't tell me, with Bruce's money, he couldn't team up with something like STAR Labs or Tyler Co. and make a dozen well-funded, state-of-the-art, up-to-date mental hospitals that could actually (and humanely) contain these criminals/patients.

I mean, sure, as a comic reader, I know they're going to get out anyway. But it would be nice to see Bruce use his money to take a proactive step in hindering these guys' inevitable escape. And as much as Arkham's an iconic image, it doesn't really suit the modern age. It'd make sense, maybe, as a secret headquarters for villainy, but you can't tell me the place would fly in our modern medical and criminal justice system. Hmph.


  • At April 09, 2008 7:16 AM, Blogger Ami Angelwings said…

    Bruce throws money around all the time to rebuild and improve other hero's homes and stuff.. why not something close to home like this?

    Also you'd think the state that Gotham's in would legalize the death penalty after SO MANY PPL keep dying and being maimed and assaulted and stuff in their biggest city. I mean it's not UP to the heroes to deal with justice and punishment and stuff... it reminds me of in Civil War when Hill asked Ironman why Spiderman doesn't take responsiblity and kill the Green Goblin instead of always fighting him and having ppl die.

    Why is it up to SPIDERMAN? He just captures the bad guys. Why doesn't the government allow capital punishment if they want to kill villains?

    I dun advocate capital punishment AT ALL irl, but in the comic world where one guy can casually wave his arms and kill 100 ppl? And it happens A LOT? Where the joker does all this crap over and over and over again? There's a strong case for it. >.> Or at the very least WAY MORE MONEY BEING PUMPED INTO PRISONS AND "ASYLUMS"

    Why IS Arkham such a horrible place? Bruce is on the board of it, shouldn't he try to improve it?

    I swear that he likes it this way b/c it keeps him busy and he doesn't have to think about all the other aspects of his life and stuff as long as he can think "well the most important thing right now is to be Batman and stop these maniacs!" xD

  • At April 09, 2008 7:28 AM, Blogger LurkerWithout said…

    WayneCo DOES heavily fund Arkham. Bruce Wayne is supposed to be on its Board of whatever an asylum has. Regents? But I'm guessing theres only so much to be done with a building filled with the world's worst madmen that has literal demons built into the walls...

    Plus of course DC is a fairly static universe. Things don't change that much. And they can't...

    And every story where the doctors in Arkham TRY to help the patients has them come to a very bad end. Or become crazy people themselves...

  • At April 09, 2008 8:49 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I get the demons in the wall thing...but why not build a brand new building and relocate everyone?

    Then no more demons, ghosts, or hidden escape routes. Won't stop 'em, but it'd slow 'em down.

    I know, I know, in comics, nothing changes. Still. Arkham's darn silly

  • At April 09, 2008 10:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    One word...exorcism. Certainly Wayne could afford that.

  • At April 09, 2008 11:22 AM, Blogger Dane said…

    It is rather ironic that Bruce Wayne is on the board of directors at Arkham, but I have to say I'm one of the people that love Arkham's look and feel. It really feels like it should be a hellhole for unrepentant psychos. I know it doesn't make much sense in a modern context, but so much other stuff in the DC universe doesn't either. People can teleport, but there is still no cure for the common cold. Seriously?

    Now, on that note, I think addressing security issues in Arkham WOULD make a great story arc. Maybe outside contractors promise to make Arkham more secure, and they actually encourage the inmates to try to get out to prove it. Maybe they bring in STAR Labs level of technology, and inject a chemical that makes the inmates lose their balance if they leave the premises. Maybe the inmates band together to fight for basic human rights, to fight the system, to fight for their FREEDOM, while the Joker puts on blue face paint as the inmates beat the guards to death with sharpened brooms.

    It would be a marvelous thing.

  • At April 09, 2008 2:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    For some reason, I keep thinking there's a Grant Morrison story where a run-of-the-mill criminal decides to use his successful insanity defense to avoid prison but winds up in Arkham and becomes a full-fledged supervillain after his term is up because of his poor experiences. So someone there knows that Arkham is designed to do more harm than good.

    I agree with everyone who says it's outmoded and smacks of Batman trying deliberately to keep himself busy by not providing his rogues' gallery with a means of getting real treatment, but I doubt DC will ever get rid of it. It's just been around entirely too long for them to bear parting with it.

  • At April 09, 2008 2:27 PM, Blogger Zaratustra said…

    Arkham's architecture changes with the writer and the artist. Arkham Living Hell had a modernized Arkham with glass doors that open through keypads and fingerprint sensors. The escapes were more due to corrupt guards than anything.

  • At April 09, 2008 6:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    There's some story (I think by Dan Slott, but I'm not sure) where the Great White Shark gets into Arkham since he thinks it'll be an easy experience and better than prison.

    That's how his face got the way it is, so yeah, not a great idea.

    I think creating an all new asylum would be a pretty interesting story, though. You'd have the problem of transporting everyone (I would not want to drive the van with the Joker in it), getting them into new cells, stuff like that.

    I'd also imagine the whole thing would get to hell pretty quickly, which would make a great justification as to why they didn't do it years ago. Somebody would eventually break out, maybe a guard would get attacked, and pretty soon it's same old same old.

  • At April 09, 2008 7:02 PM, Blogger Richard said…

    @kalinara re: why not relocate.

    I'd expect an asylum like Arkham to have a hell of a NIMBY effect even if it is rebuilt and high tech. I don't think there is any politician in Gotham or it's surrounding state that could survive saying yes to putting New Arkham in their district.

  • At April 09, 2008 9:38 PM, Blogger Ami Angelwings said…

    Melashaan: I think you're thinking of the story "Arkham Asylum: Living Hell" written by Dan Slott where The Great White Shark fakes an insanity plea to go to Arkham and goes legitimately insane and becomes the Batman villain he currently is :o

  • At April 10, 2008 1:16 PM, Blogger Tom Foss said…

    I re-read Batman: Year One a couple of years back, and it seemed to me that the overarching theme was that Gotham itself is corrosive; it turns everything it touches to crap. Even the people who manage not to fall into the pits of despair and depravity and corruption that consume most of Gotham's populace are still tainted--Jim Gordon being the prime example. Everything is bright and happy and hopeful when he moves to Gotham, but within months his marriage is falling apart, he's working himself ragged, and he's sleeping with co-workers. Even the good cops aren't great people.

    There's a Grant Morrison story in that, I think. But yeah, I'd blame Gotham before I blamed Arkham.


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