PREVIEW: Scott Snyder Unleashes the Horrors of Arkham on BATMAN


Batman #17 cover by Greg Capullo

The Batman has walked into Arkham Asylum as if for the first time.

“It’s Gotham’s great haunted house,” explains Scott Snyder with sinister enthusiasm. “It’s been converted by the Joker into, really, a castle for him. It’s meant to be something [the Batman] comes home to.”

As the Death of the Family story line draws to a chilling conclusion in the pages of Batman #16 and #17, Snyder’s medieval motif reaches a flamboyant crescendo. To the Joker, the Dark Knight is actually an “errant king” and he’s assembled the other rogues into something far more theatrical and potentially deadly than a simple human chess match. The Joker believes that these other masterminds have been lazy in their predestined roles of challenging the heroes of Gotham, particularly the Batman. Their function now is to be scarier.

“You’re going to see some changes to Arkham, instituted by the Joker, to make it into a royal palace suited for a BatKing. At least in the Joker’s twisted interior decorator mind.”

The writer refers to the Joker as a “master of fear” able to “pull the right strings” to make this massive conspiracy a reality, preying on the lost souls employed as custodians to the bleak asylum.

I asked Snyder where he felt Death of the Family landed on his horror scale, given just how high he’s raised that bar over the past few years. “This is the ten. No punches pulled, I promise,” he answered, deadly serious. “In terms of the literal and psychological horror,” it’s what we’ve been waiting for, perhaps even dreading.

The decision to put Alfred Pennyworth in harms way has absolutely struck a nerve with readers. Snyder isn’t surprised at the intensity of the response. “He’s the heart and soul of the Bat family. For every character, Alfred means something special. He’s been there from little Bruce with tears running down his face to now.”

I began to explore the hypothetical of the void Alfred might leave should anything happen to him at the hands of the Joker. Snyder encouraged this line of questioning briefly, speaking to how Bruce’s energy and drive could potentially waver, but ultimately decided to put on the breaks. “I feel bad going near the answers to these questions just because I feel like these are possibilities in the story itself.”

We know that the Riddler will play a major role in the series moving forward, and that begins to build in issues #16 and #17. Snyder considers Edward Nigma the only person who challenges Bruce on a purely intellectual level. The Joker calls him the “sword sharpener.” Moving forward, Snyder says, ” If there’s anybody who’s going to create something that’s sort of nightmarishly complicated and difficult for Batman to solve, with tremendous stakes for him to lose, it’s going to be him. He’s not like the Joker. He’s not going to go out and kill to make a point. He’s arrogant. He thinks he’s the smartest man in the room and he loves challenging Batman in that way. He respects the notion of the question. Of the riddle. If you ask the right question you can cause a lot of damage.”

Batman #17ย hits shelves next month.


  1. Cannot wait to see what he does with Edward who is by far my favourite Batman villain. Or at least I feel has the potential to be great! Also I really hope that cover will be what’s on the front of the trade as I plan to save some cash and buy it paperback and that is just a beautiful image to summarise this whole arc.

    • I concur…The Riddler has always been my favorite Bat-Villian, besides the Joker, of course…

      It’s always fun to try and solve his riddles yourself…then YOU get to be “The Bat” ๐Ÿ™‚

    • That ^, is one of my favorite things about “Arkham Asylum” and “Arkham City” is solving the riddles. Riddler is my favorite villain as well (Joker is the best no question, but EVERYONE picks the Joker). I’ve been disappointed he hasn’t done much the last couple of years. He’s due for some (new/more) memorable stories.

  2. Batman with a Bat-tle axe… Love this run so much…

  3. Cool. Will this interview be podcasted?

  4. Did Snyder buy the site? Just noticed the main header? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. …Is Joker in the Batcave in that third preview page?

  6. Without Snyder, DC would be SCREWED. I pretty much dropped every DC title except Batman. It is absolutely the best comic book out right now, and there are some great books being published from all of the publishers. Capullo is a beast also and with Jock on the back up stories, this book is enjoyable every week. Pretty much the only thing DC has done right in the New 52.

  7. Am I wrong to say that Snyder is borrowing bits and pieces of other Bat-stories and injecting them into his? Ex: In #16, when The Joker places the gun Harvey is holding to his forehead, that’s from The Dark Knight movie. And the last page of #15 Bat Man is walking up the doors of Arkham, that’s from A Serious House on Serious Earth. Right?

    Its just observations I’m making and asking about and not claiming the creators a rip-off artists. If someone could offer an explanation I’d appreciate it.

    • You’re not wrong, there are references to other stories in “Death of the Family”. To me; it’s meant to show that this is the same history, and Joker, as before the New 52. Those other stories still happened and matter. Kind of like Morrison when he tries to incorporate the entire bat-continuity in his stories which means that Batman did fight a giant rainbow monster and go to alien worlds and such. But it’s been going on since this arc started. The showdown at the Gotham Reservoir was a reference to “The Man Who Laughs”, the Mayor being gassed was a reference to Batman#1 (First Joker story), the human tapestry is a “living” monument to other stories like “Death in the Family”, the ones you mentioned, also I think in the epilogue of #16 Joker asks Harvey if his coin has enough sides to decide between all his options which I took as another reference to Arkham Asylum:ASHOASE (where Harvey had a deck of cards instead of his coin but couldn’t make a decision based on 2 options). I kinda hope Snyder is referencing the “Batman Arkham Asylum” game a few times as well. Hope that helps.

    • Right on. Thanks mate.