Alright, here I am at the end of this rather interesting mini-series. Will Dr. Joy find a way to treat her various patients?
Issue: Arkham City: The Order of the World #6, March 2022
Writer: Dan Watters
Artist: Dani Strips
The Plot: Dr. Jocasta Joy’s life may be on the line at Professor Pyg’s version of Arkham.
Commentary: Issue #5 ended with the shapeshifting No Face basically manipulating all the loose Arkham inmates seen in the series so far to go to Professor Pyg’s new Arkham hidden inside an abandoned slaughterhouse. Because of course it is. Dr. Joy, along for the ride, is initially horrified at the idea that the murderous Pyg is up to something in his own version of the infamous asylum.
Then the last issue starts, time has passed, and to Dr. Joy’s general disbelief, Pyg is actually helping the inmates in his own, oddly effective way. Dr. Joy believes that Pyg’s own psychosis is a never-ending quest for perfection. Normally he does this to people’s faces because he claims to be an artist. This time around, he’s doing it to minds, using what he understands with help from No Face and even Dr. Joy to put all the inmates in his “asylum” into positions where they aren’t inclined to go out and hurt anybody. That can be as simple as letting Ratcatcher run around in a maze or his own design or sit the Mad Hatter down in front of a staticky TV and tell the guy it’s Wonderland on the other side. Essentially, Pyg’s methods might actually be bringing peace of mind to the people of his Asylum, and that includes Dr. Joy.
The final issue does two things: points out Dr. Joy is not as mentally well as she might like to be, and it presents the one person in Pyg’s Asylum who has issues and is truly dangerous. It isn’t Pyg or the Hatter or even radioactive Dr. Phosphorus or the vampiric Nocturna. No, it’s Azrael the Avenging Angel, recovered from his blood lose, chained in the basement, and now Pyg thinks it’s time to let him out even though he’s ranting and raving about bringing them all to violent justice.
That is clearly not a good idea.
As for Dr. Joy, having had her own sanity questioned by multiple inmates, she finally realizes she’s in need of help herself as her only compulsion is to make at least one of these people mentally sound. That’s why she let the Ten-Eyed Man go at various points. It’s why she sat down to a meal with Phosphorus and Nocturna before remembering there were bodies on the floor. And it’s why she’ll try to reach out to Azrael before Professor Pyg unchains him.
The story ends, perhaps as it is should, with a bit of bittersweet tragedy. Azrael and the police were never going to be gentle with the likes of these people, and that’s presented as a shame as none of the Arkham inmates was presented as actively malicious. They were people with mental illness who needed help, and any harm they caused to anybody was more accidental than deliberate. Dr. Joy may be suffering from survivor’s guilt after the Joker attack on Arkham, but that doesn’t mean she’s wrong about the inmates needing help. One of my favorite Batman observations is he doesn’t drop most of his foes off at a prison; instead, he takes them to a hospital. Plus, none of these guys were exactly the Joker. There were some deaths and permanent injuries because of them over the course of these six issues, but it was always done as they did what their fractured minds said they had to do. Oddly enough, Pyg’s success came from more or less giving them what they wanted instead of the usual drugs and therapy.
So, this was a good mini-series that I highly recommend.