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Arkham Asylum 009

Arkham Hospital

Quote1 Arkham Asylum is not just any institution for the criminally insane. It's the Ivy League of insanity. A "Harvard" for Psychopaths. Anything not described on the new inventory is contraband. Do not bring these items inside, no matter how small or commonplace they may appear. Bits and pieces do not fall through the cracks here. They fall into the hands of the best, the brightest and the sickest. Quote2
Jeremiah Arkhamsrc

Arkham Asylum is located on the outskirts of Gotham City, and is where those of Batman's foes considered to be legally insane are incarcerated (other foes are incarcerated at Blackgate Penitentiary). Although it has had numerous administrators, its current head is Jeremiah Arkham. The Asylum does not have a good record, at least with regard to the high profile cases; most of the staff and guards are corrupt and escapes are frequent (on at least one occasion, an obsessive-compulsive multiple murderer was signed out of Arkham into the care of an incontinent, alcoholic vagrant, on the grounds that he "looked like a responsible citizen"), and those who are 'cured' and released tend to re-offend. Furthermore, several staff members, including at least one director, have ended up as residents, notably Dr. Jeremiah Arkham, Dr. Achilles Milo, and even the founder Dr. Amadeus Arkham and, in some incarnations, Doctors Hugo Strange and Charles Nigaff.



Arkham Asylum 009

Arkham Hospital

Officially known as the Arkham Hospital, it was located at the edge of Arkham, New England.[1] It was the main rehabilitation facility for the criminally insane and it was often called "Arkham Asylum".[2] The most notorious among the earliest inmates of Arkham were Two-Face and the Joker.

Joker was the first inmate to escape Arkham under unknown circumstances[3] and the next inmate was Two-Face, who had help from the outside to break free.[2] On Joker's second breakout, he dosed a couple of guards with his Joker Venom and then he proceeded to release several other inmates. Before leaving the building, Joker confronted Batman on the asylum's kitchen, where he poured a special variation of his joker venom on the Dark Knight, which allowed him to escape for good.[1]

Eventually, Joker managed to build a secret hideout that was connected to his personal cell in Arkham. The methods Joker used to build such structure underneath the Asylum remain unknown.[4] Around these early days of Arkham, there wasn't a strict policy about visits and every inmate was allowed to get visits in a common room, much like a regular prison.[5]

The criminal known as Professor Milo eventually got control of the Asylum when he and a couple of thugs captured the director and locked him on one of the padded cells. While running Arkham, Milo started a criminal ring using some of the inmates, just to lock them back when the authorities became suspicious. In order to learn the truth behind the crimes, Batman infiltrated Arkham disguised as an inmate transferred from the Gotham State Penitentiary and he learned of Milo's plan.[6] Milo drugged Batman and tried to turn him mad using a gas of his own making, but the plan backfired when the Arkham inmates attacked him and forced him to inhale his own gas, turning himself into a madman and another inmate of the cursed asylum.[7]

New Earth

Arkham Asylum was founded and run by Amadeus Arkham in 1921, on a parcel of land located in the north of Gotham and which was inherited from his mother. Arkham himself was slowly driven insane shortly following the grisly murder of his wife and child by a lunatic named Martin "Mad Dog" Hawkins. Amadeus Arkham eventually became a patient on his own asylum until his death, after which the custodianship of Arkham Asylum was passed down to his nephew, Jeremiah.[8]

In an early incident during the new administration, one of the staff members of Arkham found the secret hidden room which belonged to Elizabeth Arkham, Amadeus' mother, where Amadeus had hidden his diary. Upon reading the diary and learning of the inherited madness of the Arkham family, the orderly became insane and released the inmates of the Asylum, hoping to lure Batman into a trap to kill him and end Arkham's curse. With the Asylum taken over by the likes of Joker and Two-Face, Batman had to go in alone, confront his own demons, fears and enemies until order was restored.[9]

Jeremiah Arkham took a hardline approach towards the care of his patients. He completely renovated the interior of the hospital, tearing away the old Victorian-style architecture, replacing it with newly designed interconnecting corridors patterned in the style of old classical labyrinths. With little regard for the hospital's dark history, Jeremiah was certain to destroy old remnants of the old asylum, including his uncle's private journal.[10] Arkham hired Hiram Contractors to handle the renovations. What Jeremiah didn't realize however was that the company foreman, Zolly Hiram, had been blackmailed by patient Victor Zsasz into building a secret corridor that connected to several padded rooms, including his own. This later enabled Zsasz to affect a temporary escape from the asylum.[11]

Arkham Asylum 012

The New Arkham Asylum at Mercey Island

Unfortunately, Jeremiah's effors were for nothing, as soon his new and improved Arkham Asylum suffered massive structural damage when the criminal Bane orchestrated a large-scale break-out, setting dozens of patients free.[12] Jeremiah Arkham and the remaining inmates of the asylum were relocated to Blackgate Penitentiary until a new asylum was built.[13] Eventually, Jeremiah Arkham established a new Arkham Asylum at the site of the abandoned estate of Eric Mercey on Mercey Island, north of Gotham City, just outside of the city limits.[14]

Batman R.I.P.

 Main article: Batman R.I.P.

Batman broke into Arkham and attacked the Scarecrow, took him to Joker's cell and beat him to learn the location of Hush's secret hideout, much to Joker's delight.[15]

Later, Dr. Jeremiah noticed that the inmates were all singing about Batman's death.[16] Shortly after, Arkham Asylum was the chosen scenario by the Black Glove to eliminate Batman as part of their master plan. Guy Dax infiltrated the asylum by posing as a doctor[17] and after having Nightwing incarcerated and dosed with drugs,[18] he attacked Jeremiah Arkham and took control of the asylum. As part of the plan, Dax and his henchmen carried red and black roses into the building, they dragged Jezebel Jet inside[19] and he released Joker from his cell. Arkham was then the scenario for the final fight between Batman and Joker, as planned by the Black Glove. Jezebel was locked in one of the cells and after Batman broke her free, he fell into a trap and was paralyzed.[20]

The Black Glove buried Batman on the backyard of Arkham, but Batman managed to rise again and using a remote device he called the Bat-Radia, he activated a remote signal from the Batcomputer that shut all the exits of Arkham, locking all the members of the Black Glove inside.

Black Mask Jeremiah Arkham 0013

Destruction of Arkham

While Joker escaped from Arkham before the lockdown, Batman confronted Jezebel Jet and chased Hurt to the rooftop of the building, where Hurt tried to escape on a helicopter. Batmam leapt to the vehicle and caused the pilot to lose control and crash on the river. Nightwing managed to escape from Dax and Scorpiana and retrieved Batman's cape and cowl from the rooftop of Arkham.[21]

Arkham's Madness

 Main article: Batman: Battle for the Cowl

After the Black Glove's failed attempt to destroy Batman, all the inmates from Arkham Asylum were transferred to Blackgate until Arkham was completely decontaminated. On their way back to Arkham, the vehicles that transported the inmates were assaulted by a new Black Mask, who freed the inmates and destroyed the asylum in front of all of them.[22]

Prime Earth

Dutch immigrant Ambroos Lydecker was hired to construct the mansion and grounds that would become Arkham Asylum and incorporated a number of hidden rooms and passageways in the buildings which would later become a security nightmare.[23] One of these passageways led to a tunnel that connected to the complex which would later be adapted into Gotham Academy.[23][24][25] During construction, the architect went insane, killing the workers with an axe while quoting The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe before comitting suicide. [26]

One of the earliest inmates was the Anchoress, who would be studied by four generations of doctors before a new breed of lunatic took up the asylum's attention.[27]

Arkham Asylum was destroyed by Deacon Blackfire as part of a ritual,[28] following which Wayne Manor was seized by the city and used as a temporary replacement.[29] After being rebuilt, the asylum was destroyed again by Simon Saint on "A-Day", resulting in the deaths of multiple inmates and staff.[30] A new facility was built on the site of Hugo Strange's former lair, named Arkham Tower.[26]


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Although nobody actually lives in Arkham permanently, being an asylum, it has an infamous list of frequent residents. It's most notorious inmates throughout the years include:


  • The first appearance of Arkham Asylum is often mis-credited as Batman #326. This was actually the first issue where it was referred to as Arkham Asylum. In previous appearances, it was known as Arkham Hospital.
  • There are many early references to an unnamed insane asylum or mental hospital in Gotham City during Batman's early years. Most notably on the stories from Batman #1, Batman #74 and Batman #84.
  • From a chronological viewpoint, the first inmates locked in Arkham were Joker and Two-Face.[2] The third inmate would be Clayface III,[61] the fourth was Maxie Zeus,[5] the fifth was Professor Milo[7] and the sixth was the Scarecrow.[147] Afterwards came Doctor Double X,[75] Black Mask[50] and Night-Slayer.[161]
  • Some villains of the DC Universe have been sent to Arkham, but have never made an appearance in the place.
  • There was an Arkham Asylum counterpart in the Pre-Crisis Earth-Two.[162]


  • The name comes from the imaginary city of Arkham, Massachusetts in the stories of H.P. Lovecraft.
  • Normally, the cells where inmates are locked are decorated and customized by the madmen. On the early versions of the asylum, the cells were regular prison cells and the first personalized cells were the ones of Maxie Zeus, Two-Face and Joker. Zeus' cell was decorated with Greek architecture, Two-Face's cell was divided in two as his usual hideouts and Joker's cell had his own portrait, a big Joker card and a Batman mannequin.[7]
  • Arkham Asylum is similar to Marvel's Ravencroft Institute.

See Also

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  6. Batman #326
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Batman #327
  8. Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe #
  9. 9.0 9.1 Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth
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  12. Batman #489
  13. Showcase '94 #3
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  16. Batman and the Outsiders (Volume 2) #11
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  22. Batman: Battle for the Cowl #1
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  28. Batman Eternal #30
  29. Arkham Manor #1
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  46. Forever Evil Aftermath: Batman vs. Bane #1
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  93. Superman and Batman vs. Vampires and Werewolves #6
  94. Batman: Gotham Knights #11
  95. 95.0 95.1 Arkham Asylum: Living Hell #2
  96. Batman: Streets of Gotham #21
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  98. Identity Crisis #7
  99. Robins #6
  100. 100.0 100.1 100.2 Batman: Arkham Asylum - Tales of Madness #1
  101. Robin (Volume 2) #30
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  103. Batman: Shadow of the Bat #12
  104. JLA #120
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  154. Batman #403
  155. Action Comics #865
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  157. Animal Man #7
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  162. All-Star Squadron #29