Arkham Asylum is the psychiatric hospital for Gotham City and the DC Universe. It was created in 1974 by Len Wein and designed by Iry Novick under the name The Elizabeth Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane.
ARKHAM ASYLUM BACKGROUND
This dark and spooky institution from the old Victorian era is named after the fictician town of Arkham (Massachusetts), a recurring site in the works of the writer H. P. Lovecraft.
It first appeared in Batman #258 as a common hospital, but in the late 1980s it is portrayed as a large Victorian house that has been technologically adapted to be the asylum that receives some of the most dangerous criminals while being secure enough as to be a maximum security prison.
The place is located on the outskirts of Gotham City and is where Batman’s enemies, considered legally mentally ill, are imprisoned, while the rest of enemies or common criminals are locked up in Blackgate Penitentiary.
Villains like the Joker and Riddler were locked up here but they were not treated well. Rumors about the bad practices of the Arkham Asylum spread throughout the city, but very few know the reality that this building hides, as it is considered a place that hides its dark secrets very well. There is a stillness and feeling of complete isolation about the place that can be felt from outside the gate, being a large gothic building that is practically impossible to access if you are a healthy civilian.
The place is surrounded by a brick wall, so the only entrance or exit is the one framed by the old fence that contains the name of the asylum.
ARKHAM ASYLUM: A SERIOUS HOUSE ON SERIOUS EARTH
The creator was Dr. Amadeus Arkham, a renowned social reformer, who founded Arkham Asylum because he did not agree with the conditions of the Gotham penal system. One of his first patients was Martin “Mad Dog” murderer of Amadeus’s wife and daughter. Interestingly, Amadeus had an “accident” and electrocuted “Mad Dog” a year after the death of his wife and daughter.
In 1929 Amadeus ended up losing his fortune and his sanity. As a result of this, Amadeus tried to electrocute his stockbroker but ended up locked up in the asylum he had ran all his life. As a curious fact, Amadeus spent his days locked up carving strange inscriptions on the floor of his cell using his own fingernails. It was later revealed that these symbols were magical spells used by Amadeus to protect the asylum.
ARKHAM ASYLUM: LIVING HELL
After this misfortune, Arkham Asylum continued to function as usual, but as an institution, it has not been well staffed. Although it has had numerous administrators, not all of them can say that they are “balanced”.
Despite the dubious professionalism of its members, Arkham has a large staff. They have guards who are in charge of surveillance 24 hours a day (like Aaron Cash), trained dogs and a large number of security cameras installed inside the institution.
This class of ‘employee’ has been at the asylum since its opening, and many of them, like its creator Amadeus Arkham, have ended up becoming interns at the institution itself. Bad practices continued to develop and many of them allowed sadistic experiments to be carried out on their patients just as their creator began in the early days of the asylum.
Over time the Arkham Asylum was demolished and destroyed. Even Batman has fought against villains within the institution leaving great damage in his wake.
It was also closed for 15 years, but reopened its doors to house the wave of criminals that terrorized Gotham City.
In short, this iconic place in the Batman universe has contained all the darkness and madness contained within. It could be said that it is a cursed place because there is no worse curse than the madness and bad practices that have been carried out inside it, but we will not investigate spiritual issues yet.
- As already mentioned, its name comes from the fictional city included in the works of H.P. Lovecraft.
- After the death of his uncle Amadeus Arkham, Jeremiah demolished the asylum and built a new one with better security.
- In Batman #326, there was a naming error, calling it Arkham Hospital.
- Some Batman villains, such as Hugo Strange, Harley Quinn or the Scarecrow, have worked as medical staff at Arkham Asylum.
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