"Arkham Asylum: Madness": At 5:45am, the story begins with narration from the Joker describing a rusty, decayed bathtub called "Old Red," located in a field outside of Arkham Asylum. Sabine Robbins, a nurse at Arkham Asylum, is being driven to work by her husband, while her
Arkham Asylum: Madness is a one-shot published in 2010.
Synopsis for "Arkham Asylum: Madness"
At 5:45am, the story begins with narration from the Joker describing a rusty, decayed bathtub called "Old Red," located in a field outside of Arkham Asylum. Sabine Robbins, a nurse at Arkham Asylum, is being driven to work by her husband, while her young son, Oswald "Ozzie" Robbins, joins them for the ride. Sabine explains to her son that Arkham Asylum is a hospital where they make people better and not a jail for "freaky guys Batman puts away." Ozzie thinks that it must be cool to see famous people like Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, and the Joker. His father remarks that these people are not cool, but are actually rather sad and that anyone can end up like them if they do not learn from their mistakes. Sabine is dropped off at the employee entrance at the back of the asylum and reminds her family to pick her up at 7:00 p.m. when her shift ends.
Sabine is greeted by Eddy the janitor and, with a sigh, clocks into her shift at work. Sabine recalls how the stressful environment causes Arkham Asylum to go through employees like confetti as we are introduced to the medical staff of the asylum. Randy is an older, female nurse, who mentors Sabine and whose sense of humor helps keep Sabine from worrying about returning home to be with her young son. Dr. Hurd, the day shift's lead doctor, is a difficult and strict middle-aged man. Dr. Sandra Reed, a workaholic female doctor, is also working. There are several guards on duty and Sabine remarks that they bear the worst of the stress.
On one of the upper levels of Arkham, we meet Roy, a security guard, and his colleague outside of Killer Croc's holding cell. Croc is contained within a 5,000-gallon tank, which causes the guards to wonder why its designers would strain the structure of the Asylum by placing the weight of the tank on one of the top floors and not the lower level. A pressure-controlled device, adjusted via computer, which controls when he can and can't open his mouth, binds croc's mouth.
Sabine and Randy are admiring a photo of little Ozzie as the security guards comment on a malfunctioning clock hung high above anyone's reach.
Meanwhile, we get a glimpse of the Joker in his cell at the very top floor of the Asylum. He has been destroying his light bulbs and sits in the darkness of his cell, with the only light coming from a ceiling window.
Dr. Hurd and Dr. Reed discuss the difficulties of working at Arkham Asylum and how it only gets worse at night while on a smoke break near "Old Red" outside of Arkham.
Back in the asylum, Dr. Reed informs a homesick Sabine that her request to leave work early that day has been denied by Dr. Hurd due to being short staffed. Dr. Reed also suggests to Sabine that all nurses avoid three rooms in Arkham Asylum: "The Aquarium," the Joker's cell, and a storage closet from which Sabine hears banging.
Dr. Hurd has suggested that inmates take up a hobby for their therapy. The Joker has taken to collecting novelties and humorous antique toys. Dr. Hurd is interviewing an irritated Two-Face, who remarks that the doctor is late, but that he heard the clock is on the fritz.
More employees are beginning to notice the erratic malfunction of the clock in the main hall and seek the aid of Eddy the janitor to correct it. Eddy, using the tallest ladder in Arkham Asylum, is unable to reach the clock to fix it. The employees joke that this the ghost of Amadeus Arkham sent to haunt them.
Sabine and Randy take their lunch break by "Old Red" out in the field. A stray cat they named Kitty, joins them. Randy suggests ways for Sabine to relieve stress and stay sane while working. Sabine notices a plaque with the name "Milton Napier" in the tub. Randy recalls that there was an incident involving the plaque that got ugly. Randy reminds Sabine to look on the bright side that she, at least, doesn't have to work the night shift.
In a supply closest overlooking Croc's aquarium, Roy, the security guard, has brought his girlfriend Peggy, a nurse at the asylum, to make out. She is disturbed by what appears to be a human foot. Roy remarks that it is just a plastic gag toy the guards fool around with. Peggy is even more disturbed when she sees how close they are to Croc's aquarium and storms out of the closet.
Back at work, Roy seems to think the malfunctioning clock is bleeding. His co-worker remarks that he is crazy as they finish distributing food to the inmates, including Man-Bat (in his bat form), who hangs in the shadows of his cell.
Sabine overhears two more employees fooling around in the storage closet and is surprised to see Randy come walking out. Randy reveals she was in there with a doctor and Sabine warns she could be fired for that. Randy snaps at Sabine and tells her to mind her own business.
In the Joker's cell, Eddy the janitor, alongside two guards, is replacing the light bulb because the Joker has been repeatedly breaking them. As Eddy finishes, the two guards say they need more time alone with the Joker and proceed to beat him to a bloody pulp for drowning their co-worker, Mike, in the rusty tub. Thirty minutes later the Joker regains consciousness and proceeds to destroy his new light bulb and ends up in the infirmary after he chews on the glass. While waiting for treatment, the Joker notices he is beside the staff refrigerator.
The clock continues to tick louder and now appears to be dripping blood. It's 5:00 p.m. and the employees are near the end of their shift. Roy is upset that Peggy dumped him. Randy has just revealed to Sabine that she is being fired. Sabine wants to go argue with Dr. Hurd, but Randy informs Sabine that she was in the make-out closet with the female Dr. Reed. Sabine goes and argues with Dr. Reed, who insists Randy is being fired for poor performance. Dr. Reed also assigns Sabine the night shift, and tells her she can either agree to work it or get fired for refusing.
The night doctors arrive and include: Dr. Gallagher, an older man with large glasses, and Dr. Williams, a female doctor. Sabine uses her son as motivation to pull through the night shift.
Dr. Hurd is on a dinner break, but has recently been very ill, as noted by the Joker, and is reluctant to see a doctor himself. His symptoms include bloody gums, stomach inflammation, and vomiting.
In the asylum's rec room, the inmates, including Harley Quinn and Two-Face, are relaxing. The Joker is making a phone call to Dr. Hurd. Harley and Two-Face get into an argument, which turns into a fight that distracts the guards. The Joker reveals to Dr. Hurd, that while waiting to be treated in the infirmary, he had been slipping broken glass from the light bulbs into Dr. Hurd's tuna sandwiches and thus, the Joker was responsible for the doctor's illness. Dr. Hurd is shocked by this revelation. As punishment, the guards take away the Joker's collectibles.
Dr. Gallagher has a staff meeting in which he discusses the foot the guards have been using as a practical joke. After testing the foot, it is found to be an actual human foot belonging to a former guard, Ben Polito. The Joker had broken it off in an altercation and had made it appear as though it was just a prop. In reviewing the Joker's collectibles, they find that many of the injuries caused by the Joker were inspired by his collectibles, such as ripping the eyes from a guards head with a pair of novelty glasses.
The staff then goes over the incident with "Old Red". Upon finding out that the Joker supposedly had a son named Milton Napier, who died in a fire alongside his mother, Mike, a guard, had his cousin create a name plaque for Milton Napier. Thinking it would be humorous, Mike threw it into the tub for the Joker to discover. After finding the nameplate, the Joker insisted he was going to wash his hands in the tub with his bar of soap, but offered it up to Mike to use first. The bar of soap was a novelty item intended to make it look as though its user's hands are bleeding. This caused Mike to panic and the Joker then drowned Mike to give him a closer look at the plaque.
At midnight, inside the asylum, the Joker stumbles upon Sabine's photo of her son, Ozzie, that she had accidentally dropped. The Joker keeps it as a collectible.
An hour later, Dr. Williams is interrogating the Scarecrow to see if he had any involvement in the planting of glass in Dr. Hurd's lunch.
The night guards discover that Poison Ivy has escaped her cell. After escaping an attack from her plants, they go in search of Ivy. Harley Quinn and Ivy are in another room torturing a tied up Roy, by repeatedly dunking his head into a toilet, but are interrupted by armed guards. This causes a full lockdown of Arkham Asylum. The clock in the hall is dripping copious amounts of blood now.
Sabine investigates an open cell only to discover the Joker and Roy, who has again been trapped and duct taped to the wall. The Joker taunts Sabine with the photo of her son. Sabine threatens to kill the Joker, but he just laughs away the threat. Joker knows it will be four minutes until the rest of security responds to the alarm triggered by Sabine. As Joker continues to mock and taunt Sabine, Roy begins to free himself from the duct tape. Roy knocks out the Joker by cracking a chair over his head before he can harm Sabine.
Eddy the janitor has finally gotten a ladder tall enough to reach the bleeding clock. He discovers that a rat had become lodged in the gears, which caused the clock to malfunction and blood to seep out.
Later, the Joker has once again escaped his cell after stealing the keys from a guard. He releases Harley, but not before paying a visit to Croc. The Joker has rigged the aquarium to crack. The aquarium, on the upper level, bursts, and floods the floors below. The staff now works on cleaning up the water as the day shift comes back to work. Even in the chaos, none of the inmates escaped.
Sabine's shift is now over and she has prepared a letter of resignation. She meets with Roy outside, near the tub in the field. Roy has already turned in his letter, but Sabine feels she needs the job because of her family and discards the letter into "Old Red." Sabine's family picks her up, and her day is finally over.
The story concludes with the Joker who has discovered Sabine's discarded letter. The Joker feels that he has Sabine right where he wants her and that she will always be a part of him, Arkham, and the madness.
Appearing in "Arkham Asylum: Madness"
- Doctor Hurd (Single appearance)
- Doctor Sandra Reed (Single appearance)
- Eddy (Single appearance)
- Roy (Single appearance)
- Oswald Robbins (Single appearance)
- Randy (Single appearance)
- Joker's Exploding Cigar
- Arkham Asylum: Madness was published as a 97-page, hardcover graphic novel.
- Sam Keith experiments with a different artistic style in this book by merging his hand drawn, cartoonish style of watercolors with digital tricks and photo manipulations. Keith notes that the results were a brave failure.
- Sam Keith noted that he would often paint between 6-15 different versions of each page.
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