[[caption-width-right:300:[[InsanityDefense "Plead insanity"]], they said. [[TemptingFate "What could go wrong?"]], they said.]]

''Arkham Asylum: Living Hell'' is a six-issue limited comics series, published in 2003 and set in the Franchise/{{Batman}} universe. It was written by Dan Slott and features art by Ryan Sook, Wade Von Grawbadger and Jim Royal. Like many mini-series, it has since been collected into a [=TPB=]. The series presents us with an inside look on day-to-day life in Gotham's infamous madhouse. The result is basically Series/{{Oz}} with supervillains.

Batman does show up a few times in the story, but his role in it is tangential at best. The series actually focuses on two entirely new characters.

The first is Warren White, an embezzler who pleaded insanity and got sentenced to Arkham. Initially, he smugly believes that he got the better end of the deal by avoiding a prison sentence. As he gets to know his fellow "patients", however, he realizes that this is very much not the case.

While all this is going on, security guard Aaron Cash is trying to cope with a near death experience and a devastating loss. Unfortunately, it's very difficult to do that ''and'' keep Batman's Rogue's Gallery in order at the same time. Batman might catch them, but Aaron has to live with 'em.

What neither man realizes is that the entire asylum is about to become a part of something very, very horrifying; and that they'll both have to work together in order to come out of it alive.

Definitely not to be confused with ''ComicBook/ArkhamAsylumASeriousHouseOnSeriousEarth'' by Creator/GrantMorrison and Creator/DaveMcKean, although both books were used as source material for a [[VideoGame/BatmanArkhamAsylum certain critically acclaimed video game]].


* ActionSurvivor: Aaron initially is like this until the end where he reveals that he's a genuine badass.
* ArcWords: "You're the worst person I've ever met."
* BadGuysDoTheDirtyWork: Warren and Humpty are the ones who made sure the demons leave the place.
* BedlamHouse: Amazingly, it's not Arkham this time.
* BigDamnHeroes: Both of the times that Batman thwarts Jane Doe.
** Aaron Cash. The moment the [[spoiler: demons]] see him they identify him as a 'champion' and [[spoiler: send monsters made from possessed supervillains to fight him.]]
* BodyHorror:
** All the people who [[spoiler:get possessed turn into terrifying monsters]]
** Warren after he gets locked in the Freezer
** What Bullock finds in the cabinet of [[spoiler: Jason Blood.]]
* CardboardPrison: It's Arkham! {{Lampshaded}} by having Commissioner Gordon early on express outrage at Doodlebug's release (who added insult to injury by scrawling "Gone to Arkham. Back after lunch.") to Dr. Carver, who issued Doodlebug's release. [[spoiler: The fact that the "Dr. Carver" in question is really Jane Doe supports Gordon's point, as does the reveal of Doodlebug being a serial killer who uses his victim's blood in his paint.]]
* ChekhovsGun: Aaron left Arkham after Killer Croc bit off his hand, only coming back when Jeremiah points out that A: he's still gutsy enough to work there, and B: as long as he keeps it vaguely under control, he can abuse the more violent inmates to his heart's content. The problem with that is [[spoiler:though everyone thought Croc had swallowed it, Junkyard Dog ''kept the severed hand''. Since he came back, inmates were able to [[BloodyBiometric use it as a key]]!]]
* ChekhovsGag: Joker's plan to [[spoiler: kill everyone whose name is a palindrome]] shows up when Dr. Arkham calls National Guard Captain Allen Evenella for assistance.
* CorruptCorporateExecutive: Warren ruined the life of billion with his frauds and actually enjoyed seeing his accountant's despair when he realized he would take the fall.
* CoversAlwaysLie: Batman is barely in the series, but that doesn't stop him from being featured on the cover of issue 1 or the cover of the [=TPB=]
* CuteGhostGirl: The girl Death Rattle killed shows up trying to convince him to sacrifice himself for the salvation he promised [[spoiler: it's just her lying and getting revenge on her murderer.]]
* DemonicPossession: The demons can turn people into monsters.
* DevilsJobOffer: The story's VillainProtagonist Warren White goes from handsome ButtMonkey NewMeat in the prison to a [[BeautyToBeast hideous]] but competent and powerful supervillain and in addition to his worldly "success", he manages to outwit some demons seeking to deal with him and so impresses ComicBook/{{Etrigan}} that he's offered a cushy job when he inevitably ends up in Hell after death.
* DidntThinkThisThrough: White's entire plan. He had his trial moved to Gotham as he'd read that almost no one pleaded insanity there and thus could help him pull it off. Too bad he never bothered to check and find out ''WHY'' no one in their right mind would enter that plea.
* DissonantSerenity: Warren White becomes ''disturbingly'' calm and cheerful after he finally cracks. To the point that he's not bothered by [[spoiler: the ghost of Humpty's grandmother, and casually strangles the ghost of Rich Milton.]]
* EarnYourHappyEnding:
** [[spoiler: Dr. Carver]] is dead, but Aaron is clearly on the mend and things are finally looking up for him.
** On a darker note, so do both Warren and Humpty, since Warren ends up being in a position of great power once again at the end and Humpty finds a best friend in Warren.
* EldritchAbomination: Cthugha the demon lord, a sort of squid head who speaks in rhyme.
* EnemyMine: Aaron hates Warren's guts (and rightly so), but he still has to work with him in order to save everybody.
* EvenEvilHasStandards:
** The Joker, of all people. Of course, since it's the Joker, he might have said that just to mess with Warren. But at the same time, alternatively, considering that basically everyone HATES Warren, this might be a rare example of Joker having a genuine standard.
-->'''Warren''': B-but you're the Joker! You ''kill'' people!\\
'''The Joker''': Yes, but I don't take their kids' college funds! *whispers* You know, I could use your head as a commode and sell it on [=eBay=]...
** Pretty much everyone hates Warren. Possibly because while they are evil, he's just an asshole.
* EvilAlbino: The Great White Shark might not be a real albino, but he certainly looks like one by the end.
* ForTheEvulz: What Joker wants to do the next time he escapes Arkham-- namely, kill everyone in the phone book whose name is a palindrome.
* FromBadToWorse: Warren start from having to share room with a serial killer and it get worse, Cash goes from recovering his lost limb to fight demons.
* FunnyBackgroundEvent: In one of the panels while Humpty is telling his backstory, there's a man and what appears to be a giant chicken.
* GadgeteerGenius: Junkyard Dog. Oddly, he seems restricted to using garbage and refuse to make his gadgets, either by his mental condition or how his "power" works.
* GentleGiant: Humpty. He's a large, polite, well-meaning guy and the only person who never tries to escape or cause problems in Arkham, and takes in Warren because he legitimately wants to help him. His crimes [[spoiler:even the murder and reassembling of his grandmother's corpse]], were all because he saw something broken and wanted to fix them.
* GoAmongMadPeople: The entire plot. Warren White goes into Arkham as just another [[WhiteCollarCrime White Collar Crook]]. A few weeks in Arkham leave him [[spoiler:without a nose, hair, lips, ears, or trace of sanity - thus making him eligible to join Batman's RoguesGallery as The Great White Shark.]]
* GoodIsNotNice: Jeremiah Arkham. Granted, he never was nice to begin with, but it's implied his behavior towards Warren stems from the fact that he and the asylum were among the victims of Warren's scam. There's also the judge of Warren's trial, who was so disgusted with the jury actually buying Warren's insanity plea that he put Warren in Arkham indefinitely.
* HalfwayPlotSwitch: First it's about life in Arkham, then Doodlebug's painting take a more sinister turn.
* HandicappedBadass: Aaron Cash is missing a hand after Killer Croc bit it off, but that doesn't stop him from kicking ass and taking names.
* HateSink: Warren deserves everything that happens to him and the story won't hesitate to remind you. Every time he gets an edge he goes back into being a smug prick, when a psychologist asks why he is there he says it's because he got caught, later he chides at Dumpty t's not his fault no one read the fine print and when confronted by the man who took his life after Warren scapegoated him Warren calls him weak and strangles the ghost. His file even says he actually took pleasure in seeing people's life being ruined.
* HeartbrokenBadass: Aaron, Killer Croc tearing his hand was one thing but finding out what happened to Dr.Carver destroyed him.
%%* HybridMonster
* InsanityDefense: If White had been more familiar with Gotham City, he might have realized that pleading insanity in that town was a terrible idea.
* ItsQuietTooQuiet: Dr. Arkham goes through this early in issue 4 when he realizes that he hasn't gotten any calls from Arkham.
--> '''Dr. Arkham''': ''I haven't had a full night's sleep in years... Always some idiot on the phone with some new problem... "Dr. Arkham, the Scarecrow's trying to hang himself!" "Junkyard Dog flushed something, now all the toilets are broken!" "ComicBook/TheJoker got hold of [[LockingMacgyverInTheStoreCupboard the cleaning supplies.]] He's going to kill us all!" It's always something. But tonight? Nothing. Quiet as the grave. This can't be good. Damn. [[BigDamnHeroes Better get down there]]... ([[DramaticGunCock CHU-CHUKK]]) ... Before [[{{Irony}} all hell breaks loose.]]''[[note]]It [[TheLegionsOfHell almost]] [[LiteralMetaphor did]].[[/note]]
* KarmaHoudini: Warren White, AKA [[spoiler:The Great White Shark. The culmination of his StartOfDarkness. As he's negotiated a deal for a cushy job in Hell when he dies, he can do whatever the hell he wants while he's still alive, as he'll never be punished for any of it.]]
* LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters: and loads and loads of subplots to go along with them.
* MeaningfulName: Warren White (who becomes the Great White Shark); also Doodlebug's real name - Daedelus Boch - is a reference to Hieronymus Bosch.
* {{Mukokuseki}}: A rare and ''deliberate'' Western use of this trope for Jane Doe, which sort of makes sense for her. She's got a slightly dark-ish skin tone that indicates non-caucasian heritage... or maybe she's just a bit tanned?... and her eyes are vaguely Asian-ish... but not really. She even lacks large breasts (which is surprising for this universe), which allows her to pass herself off as a dude with relative ease.
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: Letting Doodlebug keeping his paintings wasn't such a good idea.
* NonMaliciousMonster: Humpty. In all the years that Batman's been around, he is possibly the first and ONLY Rogue's Gallery member that actually fits the legal definition of insanity. He had no idea he was harming anyone. He's simply too dangerous to be allowed to roam free. He is still scary though.
* NotSoHarmlessVillain: [[spoiler: Doodlebug]] he looks like a low key villain added to the story but he was sent to Arkham for a good reason. And he is also a main antagonist.
* OhCrap: The reaction of the [[spoiler: demons]] when they see Aaron Cash charging them.
* PetTheDog: Warren [[spoiler:saving Humpty from his Grandmother's ghost.]]
* PhraseCatcher: Whether you're a prison guard, The Joker, or the hellspawn in charge of torturing the biggest sinners in hell, Warren White is "the worst person you've ever met".
* {{Prequel}}: It was published at the time Michael Akins was police commissioner and Harvey Bullock was off the force, but according to a footnote in issue one, it takes place before ''ComicBook/BatmanNoMansLand'' and features Jim Gordon as commissioner and Harvey Bullock as a cop.
* PrisonRape:
** Warren finds The Joker in the same shower area as him. The panicked Warren drops the soap... only for The Joker to politely hand it back to him and [[EvenEvilHasStandards chew him out verbally for using stock frauds to take other people's kids' college funds.]]
** After he's injured several times within his first couple of days, a prison guard advises Warren that if he wants to survive, he should become a high ranking criminal's prison bitch (the guard uses a HurricaneOfEuphemisms including "super villain team-up"). Warren ends up as Two-Face's coin flipper, but it isn't clear whether or not that's the only thing he does for him.
* PunnyName: Doodlebug's real name? ''Daedelus Boch'', which sort of sounds like "Doodlebug" if you put your hand over your mouth.
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure: Jeremiah Arkham. "Pragmatic" might be a better word, but he is quite accommodating with inmates who keep the violence to a minimum; He regularly lets Humpty Dumpty re-assemble broken objects, Two-Face gets to keep his coin, Doodlebug his paints, etc.
* TheScapegoat: [[FlatEarthAtheist Doctor Arkham]] can't admit to himself that the asylum was overrun by demons, so at the end, Batman suggests Scarecrow must have released fear gas into the vents. He has Crane put in isolation for three months. Which makes even less sense, given Batman's experiences with the Justice League, but he could've suggested that as a cover story. A bit later, Jason Blood outright tells Harvey Bullock they're pinning the blame on Scarecrow.
-->'''Scarecrow''': [[NotMeThisTime WHAT?!]]
* SeeYouInHell: A rare ''non-vengeful'' use. The demon ComicBook/{{Etrigan}}, impressed at how cleverly [[spoiler:Warren]] has wheeled and dealed for himself in both Arkham and his future afterlife down below, smiles and says, "Guile and style. You'll do well. Keep in touch, I'll see you in hell."
* SerialKiller: A few are introduced here, most notably Jane Doe, Doodlebug and Death Rattle.
* StartOfDarkness:
** Since Warren goes onto become a regular member of the Rogue's gallery, this series is technically this trope for him. Not that he wasn't already evil, he just wasn't supervillain material (or crazy) at first.
** Also, [[spoiler:Humpty]] goes from being a well-meaning, model inmate at the beginning to Warren's right hand man by the end. He, like Warren, makes future appearances in DC comics.
* StealthPun:
** A particularly plot-relevant one. Riddler hints that he was probably the first one to notice [[spoiler: that Jane Doe had replaced Dr. Carver]] when he refers to her as "deer girl" [[note]]it's panel 7 on page 21 in the collected edition[[/note]] instead of "dear girl". Or, to put it another way [[Theatre/TheSoundOfMusic a female deer.]]
** Another horrifying one appears in a flashback with Aaron Cash. Cash is about to drag off Riddler for vandalizing a tiled floor that he was supposed to be soaping. Before the flashback ends, we see what Riddler was scribbling in the soap suds: [[spoiler:"Who got out by getting ahead[?]"]]
* {{Stripperiffic}}: Poison Ivy and Miss Magpie
* TokenGoodTeammate: Humpty is a legitimately kind and well-meaning person [[spoiler:(despite the horrifying behavior his good intentions lead him to).]], which makes him really stand out from the other Arkham inmates, and even some of the staff.
* TooDumbToLive: Warren, initially. You'd be safer making a guilty plea in Gotham than an insanity plea, despite Blackgate not being a much better alternative. Justified as he is not from Gotham and only changed venue there because he heard it was the only place where the system is broken enough to believe his story.
* VillainProtagonist: Warren White is an immoral white collar criminal who deserves part what he gets.
* WhatMightHaveBeen: [[spoiler:Aaron is angry with himself for not asking Dr. Carver out when he had the chance]]