Arkham Asylum

arkham asylum

For a city with so much villainy, one might be forgiven for wondering why there is no prison in Gotham. But given that the criminal justice system in Gotham usually deems criminals to be ‘mentally unfit’, this role tends to be played by the city’s hospital, the Williams Medical Center … while those who are regarded as especially dangerous end up in the Elizabeth Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane. All the great Gotham villains have been incarcerated here – the Joker, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, the Riddler, Harley Quinn, Clayface, Mad Hatter, Killer Croc, Mr Freeze, and of course Scarecrow. And at some time or another, most of them have escaped …

The asylum – which made its first appearance (albeit only as Arkham Hospital) in Batman #258 (published in October 1974) – was founded by Amadeus Arkham. Elizabeth, after whom the asylum is named, was his mother. She suffered from mental illness and was alleged to have committed suicide, although it later emerged that she was euthanized by her son.  The Arkham name itself comes from H. P. Lovercraft, who should be well-known to SLers through the brilliant and long-standing Innsmouth sim.

The asylum’s best-known staff member is surely Dr Harleen Quinzel, who was seduced by the Joker while trying to treat him, and subsequently became Harley Quinn. Psychology is of course a big deal in the Batman series. Another famous villain, Scarecrow, started out as Dr Jonathan Crane, a psychology professor with a gift for producing mind-bending chemical agents.

As dark as it is, Arkham Asylum has been treated to some beautiful artistic representations, most notably by Dave McKean in the highly-acclaimed Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, which features images like this …

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Arkham’s biggest role in movies comes in Batman Begins, where Crane/Scarecrow is depicted as a high-ranking staff member, and is brilliantly played by Cillian Murphy

All of which is simply an excuse for letting you know that we’ve installed a new Arkham Asylum on the sim – it’s bigger, darker, and altogether more Gothamesque.

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