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Bedlam vol 1

Bedlam vol 1 back

Nick Spencer & Riley Rossmo, Frazer Irving


Page 45 Review by Dominique

Image is producing some excellent stuff at the moment and this is another book which should shift many, many copies because it ticks so many boxes for so many people, myself included. Crime fans, creepy horror fans, psych-based weirdness fans, Joker/Arkham/Batman fans and “isn’t the world a truly fucked up place?” fans will all get a kick out of BEDLAM because it is *mental*.

When the book begins the final, show-stopping crime of the notorious psycho who plagues the city of Bedlam is already underway. In stunning black, white and red we watch his final hideous act before he is taken into custody... only to find that he has arranged a sting in the tail. We watch the panic unfold; the detectives try to reason with the killer, even though he is utterly beyond reason. They try to intimidate him even though fear obviously means nothing to him. And they try begging him despite the fact he clearly has not a compassionate bone in his body. In the end the plot is not thwarted but at least the psycho is dead; killed by his own mistake, a miscalculation which finally rids Bedlam of its stain. Yeah... he’s not dead, though. At least the person who is dead isn’t him. But never mind, he’s not going to be out committing crimes any time soon, or even ever again. Because someone is of a mind to fix him.

Because we are not the things we did in the past, we are the things we do today? Right?

There is so much more I want to write in this review but I also don’t want to spoil it for you. It’s not that there is any great twist that you won’t see coming, rather it’s that I loved the way the story revealed itself and I don’t want to ruin it. There are some brilliant passages; some all about the action and the violence, others about a guy in a room talking to himself. The faceless (literally!) Batman analogue is a perfect one-dimensional foil to the complex, endearing weirdo we follow through the latter part of the story and the police/detective element is a perfect mix of familiar formula and freaky sideshow.

I loved this book. I found it in turns thrilling, amusing, freaky and dark. Also, for £7-50 it’s a no-brainer. (You’ll see what I did there, tee-hee!)


Thank you, my love!

Stephen here, at the behest our dear Dominique, appending my review of the very first issue. I don’t quite know why, but after working with the woman for nearly 18 years I have learned to do as I’m told. (It actually took me three days.)

“We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to let you know I have just killed… well, a lot of people. I didn’t count. I apologise. To make matters worse, most of these people were children. Which I know you’re gonna say is somewhat below the belt. But I have tried many things, and you are all… Well, you are a pretty stubborn bunch. So now that I have your attention, we should talk about what comes next.”

In which a psychopath torments his audience, captors and the wider public in general – even from behind bars – and does so with such viciousness and at such punishing length that DC would never have published this as an Arkham Asylum book.

Sorry…? Well, if this wasn’t originally intended to be a Joker book, I’d be hugely surprised, and for some reason I’ve decided that’s the equally ill-adjusted Norman Osborn administering the sedatives. Quite the crossover.

With a softer but suitably grimy colour palette to differentiate between time frames, this is mostly told in black, white and red with a cracking design for Madder Red’s Chain Chomp mask. Jonathan mentioned Ashley Wood as a comparison point, and I wouldn’t disagree.

As to what does come next… oh, it’s far from straightforward. I love a good contingency plan, and I am far from alone. From the writer of MORNING GLORIES, THIEF OF THIEVES and so much more.

“I am Madder Red, and I live to surprise you.”

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