1449: Arkham Asylum – Chapter FourPosted: June 19, 2016
Title: Arkham Asylum
URL: Chapter Four
Critiqued by BatJamags
WARNING: This chapter contains a scene of domestic abuse. The author at least acknowledges it for what it is, and *claims* he’s not in favor of it, but he’s also clearly using it to punish a character he doesn’t like.
Gary Stu count: 6
Running the Asylum count: 13
Out of Character count: 8
Hello once again, dear patrons! I’m your guest host (you should be thinking about that roughly as much as hathanhate thought about this story) BatJamags, and I swear I really am just going to fly solo on this. I DON’T NEED CHARACTERS! I’M MY OWN MAN! THEY CAN’T CONTROL ME!
*Chief McCarthy walks in with a taser*
No. There’s no way I’m letting you riff on your own. Get out.
I realized that I never introduced the fandom to you guys. While I’m sure most of you are at least basically familiar with Batman, I should go over what we’re dealing with here just in case. Batman’s got a lot of history and a lot of supporting characters, so I’ll try to cover the relevant stuff as quickly as possible.
Bruce Wayne was an eight-year old kid from a rich family. His parents were killed in front of him by a mugger. So, he swore to take vengeance on crime. With the help of the family butler, Alfred, he travelled around the world training to be a vigilante. He returned to his shithole of a hometown, Gotham City, took on the guise of a bat to strike fear in the hearts of criminals, and proceeded to kick ass for 77 years (because comic book timelines are fucked up).
The Joker, real name unknown, was a small-time crook working under the alias of the Red Hood. In a botched break-in at a chemical plant, he got into a fight with Batman and made his getaway through a vat of vaguely defined chemicals. These bleached his skin white, turned his hair green, his lips red, and twisted his mouth into a permanent smile. He went on to become one of Batman’s most persistent and psychotic enemies, relying on a clown theme to commit crimes (in fact, he was one of the earliest evil clowns).
Arkham Asylum is a mental institution where Batman’s crazier enemies go when he captures them (Batman never kills or uses guns. The reason why varies slightly, but I prefer to think it’s because of the trauma from seeing his parents shot). Harleen Quinnzel was a doctor there who tried to cure the Joker, but was instead seduced by him and fell in love with him, becoming Harley Quinn. She was his loyal henchwoman for a while despite the Joker being kind of an abusive asshole, but in the comics eventually went her own way and was shoehorned into fifteen hundred different books and external media because money.
Poison Ivy, real name Pamela Isely, is a supervillain who can control plants (one of Batman’s few enemies with actual powers rather than just gimmicks or advanced technology) and works primarily as an eco-terrorist. She’s a friend (And by “friend,” I mean no-romantic-attachment-is-explicitly-shown-but-everyone-knows-it’s-there) of Harley Quinn. Remember that part, it’ll be important for this chapter.
Anyway, last time, the Joker was out of character, he cut the Stu’s hair, and found out that Not-So-Hairy Stu had his lips sewn shut.
I give you, chapter four.
Can you stop that? It says right above that text that it’s chapter four (well, five, because of the prologue, but we get the idea). Just saying which chapter this is in the author’s note seems pointlessly redundant.
I walked right into that one, and now they’re going to show up at the beginning of every chapter where he does that.
*Sounds of gunfire in the hallway*
Fortunately, I’ve signed on a legion of faceless mooks to help with security, so as long as none of those DRD agents are named characters, they’ll never make it through.
*A man with a black suit, dark sunglasses, and grey hair steps through the door holding two guns*
?: Hello, I’m Department of Redundancy Department Agency Agent John Johnson of the Department of Redundancy Department.
*He shoots and double-taps me and I respawn dressed in poorly-fitting armor*
Right then. I’m keeping the mooks anyway. They’re cute.
It is short, just like its’ predecessors, but I enjoyed writing it. Most likely because I really don’t care at all for Harley Quinn.
Oh, shit. I should mention that this is the first chapter I’ve riffed for this that I didn’t read ahead of time, so I don’t like where this is going. (NOTE: I’m editing this after having read and riffed the whole fic, so if I occasionally speak as though I’ve read ahead, that’s why)
Just a preemptive hint: when I don’t like a character, I tend not to write about them. Hathanhate, you could’ve easily gone with Nolanverse canon and just not included Harley, but you deliberately shoved her into the story where she wasn’t needed, so I’m not looking forward to what is going to happen here.
I might consider it if I knew what loves were.
Wow, out of context what I just said is actually really depressing.
Batman hunted desperately through Arkham’s records.
*Adam West voice* Quickly, Robin! We’ve got to find some semblance of competence in here!
*Burt Ward voice* I don’t know, Batman. These guys seem like complete morons.
*Adam West voice* We can’t give up, Robin!
The Joker had taken the John Doe patient. He couldn’t understand why. There was one video record of the little male and him bumping into each other, but nothing more than that. Yet the Joker had had enough interest in him to take him.
That’s what I want to know! So, we’ve been in the Joker’s POV, tell us why!
Out of Character count: 9
He didn’t understand why the Joker would take him. But then, he didn’t particularly understand why the Joker did a lot of what he did.
Bullshit. No one understands the Joker better than Batman. Granted, you could cut the last three words off of that sentence and it would still be valid, but Batman gets him more than most people do.
Out of Character count: 10
He hunted through the records to try and find more information on the John Doe.
But there was very little to be found. There were records of him being brought to Arkham by the usual officers who transferred people from Gotham prison (It’s called Blackgate Penitentiary, dipshit. Do the research.) to the Asylum. There were the usual notes about the doctors being informed of the patient’s crime (supposedly he killed someone and drew pictures with their blood). But there was nothing from before that.
Running the Asylum count: 14
No records of the crime he was accused of committing. No records of an arrest. No police records of him at all.
As far as he can tell, the John Doe patient didn’t exist until those officers brought him to Arkham.
Author still doesn’t get that Arkham is a mental institution, not a prison. I made that same mistake too, when I was about ten years old.
Running the Asylum count: 15
With a growl, he looks down at the drawing that still sits on his desk. Looking at the doctor’s records, he doesn’t think that the male is entirely sane, but he does not think he is a danger to anyone either. He seems almost like a child in his nature.
And you would know this from two wordless encounters… How?
His eyes narrow to slits behind the cowl.
He thinks it might be time to pay those officers a visit.
Really? The first known records of a guy involve his being in the presence of two people whose identities you do know, and you only just now realized you should talk to those guys to find out who he is?
I really don’t remember Batman being this slow.
Out of Character count: 11
I think the author just has a hatred for regular line breaks more irrational than my hatred for Christopher Nolan movies (and that’s saying something), but it just strikes me as this weird madness mantra, like he goes a little more insane every time he types that. Sort of an “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” thing, you know? It’s not like the story gets any more incompetent, but at least it makes me kind of crazy just seeing it over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.
I feel fine, why do you ask?
The Joker sits in silence. A rare thing for him, and continues to run his fingers over the black threads sewn into his puzzle’s lips. He had not cut them off as he had wanted, because when he had suggested doing so, a look of absolute terror had come over the young male’s face.
The Joker sure does respect other people’s personal boundaries! It’s not even like this is just the fic mischaracterizing him, because we’ve got no indication that this is any more worrying to Hairy Stu than cutting the hair was, so this is just inconsistent.
He had been startled by how much he despised seeing such a look on his face. Usually he was quite happy with terrifying people, and enjoyed using their fears against them. But he does not want for his new little possession to fear.
Gary Stu count: 7
Out of Character count: 12
At least not for it to fear him, but then, it didn’t really seem as though it was the Joker who he feared.
He fears the Library going into the fic and dragging his Gary Stu ass out of Gotham for good.
He smiles at him, receiving the same blank, but minutely curious look he has received every time he smiles at him.
His puzzle is like a child.
Is this some kind of revelation? We were already told-
Alright, it’s time to show these clowns what Benny the Imaginary Handgun can d-
*Sniped by DRD sniper*
*Respawns in a purple bathrobe*
“Come on then sweetheart. We gotta get you dressed.” He stands then, picking the thin male up out of the basin and sets him up on one of the sciencey-looking
*PISTOL-WHIP!* No. Try again.
tables. The white-haired male swings his legs slightly at the Joker fetches the Arkham uniform from the floor.
Wait a minute, I’m confused about the timeline here. Are these scenes of Batman and Joker happening simultaneously? How long has it been since Joker escaped? Why did it take Batman so long to continue not finding anything? WHAT IS GOING ON?
He takes note that there are no underwear with the pants and shirt. He would like not to have to put this back onto the male, but he has nothing else for him at the moment, and so it will have to do. He also takes note that his puzzle apparently has no shame in regards to his own nudity, and makes no effort at all to cover himself.
Gary Stu count: 8
“You’d walk around nude without a care wouldn’t ya?” The little male only tilts his head at him in response. “Hands up.” He orders. The puzzle does so, though the Joker frowns at the sight of the male’s arms shaking. He is very weak. He slips the shirt onto him and pulls it down. It is very big on him, hanging off of one shoulder and coming down halfway to his knees. The pants are much smaller, and they slip onto him easily enough. He has to grab onto Joker when he slips off the table to get them over his bottom though.
Stop being so obnoxiously TRAJEK, and stop putting dialogue in the middle of your bricks-o-text.
“We need ta get some food into ya. Somehow.”
And stop writing the Joker’s dialogue with that weird phonetic accent. What, is he Texan or something?
The puzzle looks up at him with curious purple eyes. He is still holding onto him.
*Winces at purple eyes*
“You need a name too.”
You’re right, Hairy Stu doesn’t work anymore now that he’s not a hair blob.
At this there is a tiny spark of excitement in those eyes, and he receives a tiny gentle smile that looks more suited to belonging to an angel than an Arkham patient even with the way it moves the crossed threads and makes them look like the macabre smile of something with sharp teeth.
I’m not sure what that sentence was trying to say, but it was stupid.
“Hmmm… But what to call you?” He taps a finger to his lips. “How about snow? Your hair is white after all…” ‘Snow’ shook his head. “Hmm… How ’bout Loki? He had his lips sewn too.” He knows as soon as ‘Loki’ pales (a great feet considering that his skin is nearly as white as his hair) that it is not a good idea. “So not Loki then… Hmm…”
Author, you realize the Joker would probably name him something embarrassing just for shits and giggles, right?
Also, a great “feet?” *Snerk* Apparently Snowy-Stu has really big feet.
He thinks for a few moments, the as-yet-unnamed puzzle looking up at him expectantly. “Why not… Lamb?” He receives a curious look in response, ‘Lamb’ no doubt wondering as to his reasoning. “Like that movie, Silence of the Lambs is it? You’re always silent, so…”
No. You don’t get to bring Silence of the Lambs into this. Especially not with just a stupid reference to the title. Now I feel bad for the Hannibal Lecter jokes I made in the first two riffs.
His reasoning sounds odd, and maybe not quite sound even to his own ears, but to his surprise the smile he gets in response for his choice is blinding in its’ joy. He grins wickedly. “Lamb it is then.”
Also, the Stu is now called something which is also a name for Jesus.
Gary Stu count: 9
The life of a line is still more entertaining than this fic.
The Joker trails silently into the pseudo-greenhouse, dragging Lamb along behind him by the wrist. His grip is tight, and maybe even a little harsh, but the white-haired-one doesn’t seem to notice, and if he does then he doesn’t care.
“Pseudo-greenhouse?” Is it a greenhouse or isn’t it? I get that the author is saying that Ivy’s been growing her plants there, but then just say that.
“Puddin’!” Harley, who had been sitting and chatting with Ivy, jumps to her feet and comes to embrace him. Before she reaches him he feels Lamb tense and so rather than indulge her he backslaps her hard across the face just as her fingers brush his purple coat. He sees Ivy’s eyes narrow at him but the redhead does nothing more than bring her cup of tea back to her lips for another sip. Harley yelps at his blow and whimpers after she hits the ground. He feels Lamb relax again and chances a look at him.
This is what I put the warning up there for. The Joker’s behavior, and Harley’s for that matter, are not exactly shocking here, but I’m a quite annoyed that the author is going out of his way to include a character he doesn’t like, specifically so that she can be abused.
Look, Harley may be a bit of a doormat (Not her fault, and she’s definitely the victim here, but she is), but Ivy is not going to stand for that shit, especially since she doesn’t like Joker in the first place. There’s literally no reason for Ivy not to intervene. Most of Batman’s villains are scared of the Joker, but then again, most of Batman’s villains don’t have super-plant-powers. Ivy could, and probably would, kick Mr. J’s ass for this.
Also, tea is made from plants. Ivy wouldn’t eat her babies. It’s a minor point compared to the above, but it bugs me.
The violet-eyed male is looking up at him with the same blank, childish face and curious eyes. He doesn’t look upset, or at all concerned with what Joker’s done: but as Harley stands up his eyes flicker to her and there is a sudden wariness in his expression, and he takes a step backwards. Well isn’t that interesting? His new pet doesn’t seem to like Harley very much.
OC dislikes a character the author also dislikes? Shocking.
Seriously, Lamb here has no reason to dislike Harley. This is completely unmotivated, and the Joker has no reason to be so protective of the Stu, aside from, as I said above, punishing a character the author doesn’t like.
Gary Stu count: 10
“Oh? Who’s this Mista’ J?” She peeks around his torso to look at Lamb but is careful not to touch the Joker again. She knows that would not end well for her right now. “What’s with his mouth? Awful funny lookin’ ain’t ya suga’?”
I think anyone smart enough to be a licensed psychiatrist (Yeah, yeah, it’s sometimes implied Harley slept her way through school. She’s still not that dumb) could probably figure out that his fucking lips have been sewn together. Author’s confusing mental illness with stupidity. *Twitch* Ain’t that sweet?
Lamb’s eyes darken in an emotion that is not quite anger, and they suddenly look just a little too bright; just a little too wet. Joker is only mildly surprised by the rage the suddenly envelops him as he sees something very dark, some nasty memory, flash across those purple eyes and he has moved his hand into a fist before he even realizes it.
Lamb Chops, please don’t go all Subject 23 on us. Miranda didn’t deserve that, and neither does Harley.
That fist slams hard into Harley’s face and he hears a nasty snapping sound that makes glee fill him. Good. She deserves the pain of a broken nose for her idiocy.
Keep your thoughts out of the narrative. Keep them out because it’s sloppy writing, and keep them out because they’re disgusting. Harley clearly isn’t fighting back here, and nobody deserves to be beaten like this. When it happens in canon, it’s to emphasize that the Joker is evil and is abusing Harley’s mental illness so he can have a punching bag. When it happens here, it’s so that the author can cause a character he doesn’t like to feel pain. What I’m saying is:
THE AUTHOR IS CLEARLY TAKING THE JOKER’S SIDE IN THIS! THAT IS NOT OK!
He looks up at Ivy in a way that dares her to question his reaction, but the plant woman says and does nothing. By their angle to her, she was easily able to see the expression on Lamb’s face and so there is understanding in her eyes.
The boy is his now. His possession to do with as he pleases. He belongs to the Joker just as Harley belongs to him, and no one gets to hurt his possessions but him. They don’t even get to hurt each other. If someone (other than maybe the bat) ever hurt Harley he would kill them. Likewise, should anyone hurt his new pet; he will kill them as well. If they hurt each other, the responsible party will be punished.
You keep telling yourself that.
Out of Character count: 13
It is his way, and Harley ought to have known by the way the Joker is keeping the little white-haired-one close that he belongs to the Joker. She knows the rules.
Oh, is that it? I thought it was just the Joker being inexplicably protective of Lamb Chop Stu.
Gary Stu count: 11
He steps over her without a word, dragging Lamb along with him. He pulls out a chair at the little iron garden table Ivy sits at and places the male into it.
At which point both of them were strangled by vines.
Lamb smiles at him as he pushes in the chair, and he smiles back in a strained sort of way when he realizes that Lamb’s wrist is purple. Joker had held him harshly yes, but not so much that it should have been able to create a bruise. His new pet is weak and thin. Far too much so.
WE GET IT. HE’S WEAK AND THIN AND TWAJEK AND YOU WANT US ALL TO WUV HIM! SHUT THE HELL UP ABOUT IT.
He sits down in the other seat and grabs the cup of tea there that was most likely Harley’s, handing it to Lamb with a dark look and an animalistic grin that is an order to drink in and of itself. Lamb seems to have enough intelligence to understand this, and does exactly that. His hands shake a little, but the warm liquid is not hindered by the thread across his lips and he smiles at the Joker after a couple mouthfuls; clearly seeming to like it.
How the hell is the thread tied that he can put his lips around the cup’s rim?
“I need some way to keep him alive without taking those off.” The Joker is addressing Ivy now, and gesturing to Lamb’s lips. He hears Harley whimper in the background as she begins to move off the ground but ignores her entirely. Ivy looks from him to Lamb and set her tea down.
“Well, clown, I might be more considerate if you hadn’t just socked my (girl)friend in the face. As it stands, you can go fuck yourself,” said Ivy coolly, summoning a rather large venus fly trap to eat the Joker.
“I think I can find something.”
Or she could say that. I suppose that works too.
This makes his grin wider and he runs his tongue absently over his scars. Ivy may be nuttier than he is,
Bullshit. Wow, this story is turning that into a catchphrase for me.
but she’s a decent scientist and knows her human biology as good as her plant biology. He is glad for this.
Eh… That doesn’t seem impossible, since it’s only two fields rather than ALL SCIENCE EVER, but I think most biologists are going to be solidly better-versed in one or the other. Canon doesn’t ever really show Ivy working with human biology, so I’m inclined to think she’s focused on plants.
[Botany is the devil’s study. Who in their right mind has square cells instead of ciruclar ones?! Plants suck! ~Lyle the Zoologist]
After all, it wouldn’t do for his pet to die just yet now would it?
I want his pet to die so this story can end.
Take the taco challenge hathanhate! Make this easier on both of us!
Yeah. This again.
A little bit better of a look into how the Joker thinks of all this. I think.
Actually, no. We didn’t learn anything new, the Joker just continued to be pointlessly protective of Lamb Chop Stu.
I really don’t like Harley.
But all the same I would like to make something clear here. I don’t at all condone spousal abuse. I absolutely abhor the thought of a man hitting a woman under any circumstances; especially if they are in a relationship. That said, this IS the Joker we’re talking about. I remember watching Batman: The Animated Series as a kid and I can’t put a number on how many times the cartoon showed the Joker abusing Harley.
I can’t really argue with this, but there’s got to be a better way to show this than inflicting it on a character because you don’t like her.
I hate that expression and it needs to die.
Did you know that the makers of that cartoon series created Harley as a means to make the Joker look straight? She was made only so that the show could become more ‘appropriate’ for children by not bringing up questions regarding the Joker’s feelings towards the Batman. Especially since there is actually a few scenes in some of the comic that make it seem as though the Joker has slashy feelings towards the Batman; twisted feelings, but feelings all the same.
I’m not sure about that. I’ll need to check on it.
*One research later*
As far as I can tell, this author’s story is?
You guessed it: Bullshit.
Harley was a one-off henchwoman in a B:TAS episode who the authors and audience liked enough to give her a backstory in the tie-in comic. They pulled that off well enough that the character caught on and became a regular in the show.
Now, something like that has happened on Batman’s end (The original Batwoman, Kathy Kane, was created as a love interest to “prove” that Batman and Robin weren’t gay), but I can find no evidence that Harley was like that for the Joker.
Like the scene where he talks about killing Batman and then sexually defiling his corpse.
I don’t remember that at all.
Or that time the Batman visits him in Arkham and he essentially tells him he’s in love with Batman.
I don’t remember that either. Do you mind citing the issue number? Anything other than this vague description that’s wishy-washy enough it could mean anything? No? OK.
Or that time some faceless person (who may or may not have been the bat himself) busts him out of Arkham and the Joker attempts to offer him gay sex as payment only for his helper to leave him leaning against a tree with his pants around his ankles.
OK, now I know you’re making stuff up.
And besides, there’s really no way in hell that Batman himself would help the Joker escape. Aside from it being completely out of character, the Joker handles it well enough on his own.
He also uses a knife, which in the study of criminal minds is seen as a phallic symbol. Using a knife rather than a gun is viewed as being much more intimate, and many criminals who kill with knives are known to attain sexual gratification from it. This makes me wonder why in his more personal fights with the Batman, he almost always uses a knife.
1: Source on the knives are phallic thing? Can anyone confirm or deny? I mean, yeah, of course they are, but I mean in the way this author is describing it.
2: The Joker also uses a gun, which shoots out a flag that says “BANG!” on it, and you’re telling me that knives are phallic.
3: How are guns in general not phallic?
4: The Joker uses guns more often than he uses knives, including against Batman. Obviously I haven’t counted, but he really just doesn’t seem to have a preference for one weapon or the other.
5: If he carries the knife as a regular weapon, then he probably uses it on lots of non-Batman people.
6: I can point to specific evidence of the Joker being a narcissist*. He may have sexuality beyond that, but the Joker loves himself first and foremost.
There are more subtle things, but those are just the ones that merit interest.
This rant went to a disturbing place.
Alright, well, we’re at the end of Chapter 4, and the author showed his true colors as an irrational, rabid Batman/Joker shipper (I’ve got no particular problem with m/m ships, but that pairing in particular is just made of NOPE).
So, I’m going to go for a swim in the Brain Bleach Jacuzzi. Bye!
*Alright. Let’s look at a small sampling of the Joker’s more famous schemes in the comics: The Laughing Fish (and Joker Toxin in general), the Killing Joke, Mad Love, and Emperor Joker.
THE LAUGHING FISH: The Joker uses a special toxin to give all of the fish in Gotham Bay the same smile he has. He then attempts to patent these new fish. So, what’s he doing here? Making fish look like him.
THE KILLING JOKE: The Joker kidnaps and tortures Barbara Gordon, Police Commissioner Gordon’s daughter (and also Batgirl, but she was retired at this point, and she only became Oracle afterwards). This is done in an attempt to drive Commissioner Gordon and Batman insane. In other words, he’s trying to make Bats and Gordon think like him.
MAD LOVE: The Joker seduces Harley Quinn, puts her in a jester costume, and has her work as his henchwoman. What’s he doing here? Making Harley act like him.
EMPEROR JOKER: The Joker steals the powers of Superman’s reality-warping enemy Mr. Mxzptlk and alters the world in his image. Here, he’s turning the entire world into a Jokerized version of itself.
So, it seems to me that the Joker is obsessed with his own personality and image. I’d say he probably thinks of himself as a villain, and Batman is the hero of the same story, but his interest in Batman is limited to how Batman is connected to the Joker. Also, note how I cite where my evidence actually comes from, rather than just vaguely describing incidents where something that could possibly imply an attraction depending on how it was written happened.
Gary Stu count: 11
Running the Asylum count: 15
Out of Character count: 13