One word to cap off this series: FINALLY! After almost a two years-long wait, the epic duo of The Batman and Maxx is back to finish what it started in 2018 with Arkham Dream. For those unfamiliar, this series’ story and illustrations are headed by Sam Keith, who incidentally created The Maxx series. In The Maxx, the narrative push was about these people who are dealing with trauma within a superhero lens. It’s such a wonderful exploration of feminism and sexual violence that simply seeps into the membrane of our dreams. Stemming from that conceit, Arkham Dreams manages to hold a metatextual conversation between our pop culture and our own mental psyches.
Keith is simply as incisive as ever with his hand depicting societal issues that are brought about through the mental capacities of characters like Batman, who are revered within our current pop cultural climate. This isn’t to deny how important the character is, but to acknowledge the underlying psychosis that people suffer from when they constantly consume themselves with this mindset. The exaggeration in the physicality of Batman constantly toes the line of a caricature, but it manages to hold the satirical nature of Keith’s narrative brilliance. As much as this is a story about our mental landscape, it’s simply a fun romp of a story to burn through.
With the addition of colorist Ronda Pattison, the simple exaggeration of Keith’s caricatures hold the reader’s gaze on the page. In simple colors, the shading she manages really penetrates into the eye and conforms to our visual language with stunning grace. Alongside this is letterer Shawn Lee, who has managed to really bring some dynamism to the book. The unique captions for each character have managed to comply with giving each character their own landscape. Amidst this is onomatopoeia that is really fun and boisterous, pairing well with Keith’s lines.
Keith never skips a beat in the exciting return of this miniseries.
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