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Comic Book / The Batman of Arkham

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The Batman of Arkham is an Elseworld comic written by Alan Grant set in the year 1900. Batman prowls the streets of Gotham to save the innocent and fight crime, but by day Bruce Wayne is a respected psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum, turning it from a Bedlam House into a place where those housed in its walls receive the compassion and help that they need.

Meanwhile, The Joker is spreading his maniacal brand of madness through the city, and Jonathan Crane is a subordinate member of the asylum staff with his own views on patient care. When Wayne falls victim to the Joker and is left in a manic state, Crane has the chance to work his harsher will on the patients. However, Bruce recovered from the gas and captured the Joker. Bruce then dedicates his life to curing the Joker.

This comic provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Name Change: Bruce Wayne's father has his first name changed from Thomas to James.
  • Adaptational Job Change: Rather than a business magnate, this version of Bruce Wayne is a psychiatrist.
  • Bedlam House: Bruce is determined that Arkham Asylum not return to its previous state of abusing and mistreating its inmates. Naturally, it returns to this state under Crane's rule, but turns back once Bruce returns.
  • Deadly Gas: Joker's gas, as usual. All victims end up Laughing Mad; most Die Laughing.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Not just when it comes to the treatment of the mentally ill; the sexism of the era is also touched upon.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: Instead of being shot by Joe Chill, Bruce Wayne's parents in this continuity were killed when an insane seaman stabbed them to death.
  • Easily Forgiven: Commissioner Gordon flinches when he sees Killer Croc, worried that he wanted revenge for having him captured and institutionalized, only for Killer Croc to politely greet him, showing that Bruce’s methods actually work.
  • Good Doc, Bad Doc: Bruce Wayne uses psychology - surmised from a mix of Sigmund Freud and Franz Mesmer’s methods - to treat his patients. His humane, personal methods are shown to work wonders on the patients, turning the once savage and violent Killer Croc into a more polite individual with hope of integrating into society. When Jonathan Crane takes over, he turns Arkham into a Bedlam House (not unlike most other mental institutions back in those days) where he strips the inmates of their rights and privileges and rules over them all with an iron fist, out of belief that fear is more effective than compassion.
  • Joker Immunity: Double subverted. Batman very nearly lets the Joker perish in the conflagration of his dirigible, but ends up saving his life at the last minute upon realizing that letting the Joker die goes against his belief that the mentally ill can be cured when given the help they need.
  • Morality Pet: Weirdly enough, Killer Croc qualifies as this. When Bruce is confined to a cell in a straight jacket, Croc manages to escape his own cell to get to Bruce and tell him just how bad things have gotten in Arkham. When he escapes to bring in the Joker, Batman remembers how much faith Killer Croc has in him in order to keep himself going.
  • Mundane Solution: While Bruce has his session with the Ventriloquist, he is unable to get a word in edgewise because Scarface won’t let him. While not exactly “mundane”, Bruce is quick to see that the dummy is getting in the way of his treatment and proceeds to pimp-slap the dummy’s head off.
  • Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: Bruce understands that the asylum was meant to be a place of healing for those that society has strong-armed into the state that they are in rather than simply being deviants that needed to be scared straight.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Jonathan Crane shows no compassion for the asylum's inmates and dismisses Pamela Isley's complaints about how women are treated as proof that she is insane.
  • The Shadow Knows: Jonathan Crane’s shadow always takes the shape of a scarecrow, reflecting his non-elsewhere persona.
  • Straw Misogynist: Unlike Bruce, who thinks that Poison Ivy has a point when it comes to women’s rights, Jonathan Crane thinks it just makes her insane.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Arkham goes right back to being the horrible place it once was (and usually is in other works) after Crane steps in due to Wayne being out of commission.
  • Word Association Test: Bruce gives one to Two-Face in his first session.
    Bruce: When I speak, respond with the first word you think of. One.
    Two-Face: Two.
    Bruce: Life.
    Two-Face: Two.
    Bruce: Death.
    Two-Face: Two.
    Bruce: Murder.
    Two-Face: Happens.