Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer/Artwork: Sam Kieth
Colourist: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Release Date: 3rd October 2018
I can honestly and with great sincerity say that Sam Kieth has one of the most warped and unique minds to ever pen a Batman story. I honestly can’t think of anyone – with the possible exception of maybe Alan Moore or H.R Giger – who could come up with as grotesquely fascinating a tale as Arkham Dreams.
We meet the Maxx as he explains his homeland The Outback, a mysterious land in another dimension which has rapidly fallen into despair. The once thriving jungle is now a barren wasteland, many of its inhabitants are dead of starvation, and his master and Queen has suddenly disappeared without a trace. Then, without warning or explanation, the Maxx finds himself in our world, shouting about his homeland while dressed in homeless rags. A patrolling Batman discovers this weird being and escorts him to Arkham where the real depths of the “Outback” put both our antagonists in danger.
Like a lot of Kieth’s work, reading this hurts your head… but in a good way. And much like the dreamworld he has created you almost feel strange reading this one, with the elongated and exaggerated features from your own nightmares laid out on the page in front of you. It’s this approach that helped his artwork match the grotesque beauty of Sandman so well, and also why he delivers such a memorable portrayal of the Caped Crusader
Kieth moves away from the widely accepted vision of Batman as a hero stretching human ability to its limits. As Bats famously once said, criminals are a cowardly and superstitious lot, and it’s because of this reason that he chose the bat symbol in the first place, to be seen as a terrifying demon of the night, something to be scared of, to haunt the dreams of men so that they choose to do good.
This is exactly why I love this juxtaposition of Batman becoming the dream in a way, taking the man of science and strength of mind and pairing him with the Maxx, making him the unknowing companion to this weird series of events. And what a character the Maxx is! Insanity personified both in actions and in looks. The strange purple mixture of Spawn, wolverine and The Creeper with a snarling overbite and unpredictable nature contrasting the Bat in every way possible.
Beautifully done in so many ways. Go treat yourself to a read as soon as possible. Just maybe not right before bedtime, yeah?
The writer of this piece was: Indiana “Indy” Marlow
Indy Tweets from @smokingpunkindy