WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the backup story "House of Gotham" Chapter One from Detective Comics #1047, on sale now from DC Comics.
The citizens of Gotham have always suspected that Arkham Asylum was the root of all their problems. Though some have blamed Batman for the city's colorful costumed criminals, the revolving door of Arkham is often cited as a contributing factor in why these super criminals continue to terrorize the streets. Though there is a point to be made about Arkham's influence, the blame shouldn't rest solely on the institution. In fact, it shouldn't even take most of the blame. Everything else should.
Though this may seem hard to believe, the truth is there to see in the Detective Comics #1047 backup story "House of Gotham" Chapter One by Matthew Rosenberg, Fernando Blanco, Fernando Blanco, Jordie Bellaire and Rob Leigh. In this tale, which takes place early in the Dark Knight's career, the Joker killed the parents of a young boy. When Batman arrived on the scene, the child believed that he and the Clown Prince of Crime were working together. Though this obviously isn't true, Batman didn't exactly help the boy either. Instead, he left him to the authorities to sort out. This proved to be a major mistake.
Considering his willingness to take the law into his own hands, and his history of adopting the orphans of murdered parents, it's odd that he didn't do more for this child. Most likely he believed that his friend in the GCPD, Jim Gordon, would handle it while he tracked down the Joker. However, what happened instead was truly heartbreaking and exposed everything wrong with Gotham.
First, Harvey Dent (before he became Two-Face) wanted to know what happened to the boy. Sadly, he had no interest in the boy himself, only what he had seen. The whole time he talked to one of the officers at the scene about what the child saw. He could have asked him, but instead, he ignored him and only talked to the police. Next, the boy is passed along to the ambulance crews. Though one GCPD detective insists that he should be taken to the hospital, the paramedic refuses. It isn't just because all he cares about is the boy's physical health, completely ignoring his mental health, he states that Gotham General wouldn't be able to do anything for him. They don't have the capacity or the facilities necessary to treat him.
This, of course, leads him to the care of Batman's trusted ally, Jim Gordon. Though it's clear he tries everything he can to get the boy what he needs, it's not enough. Despite his calls late into the night, it seems that no one wants to help this newly orphaned child. The suggestion is made that Gordon himself take care of the child. However, he isn't willing to go that far. It's likely that this isn't the first time he's found himself in this situation and, with his own children to take care of, he can't look after one more.
That leaves only one option - and it's the absolute worst one. The police take the child to Arkham Asylum, where they will apparently take care of him from now on. Arkham is no place for a child. Not only is their track record so poor that they would most likely be unable to make any real difference, but the Joker will soon be there. Once Batman catches him, the man who orphaned this young boy will be living under the same roof as him.
This is an unusually cruel and traumatic fate for an innocent young child but it isn't Arkham's fault. Every single one of Gotham's systems, supposedly there to help its citizens, failed to do anything. Often, those who could help didn't care and those who wanted to couldn't. Thanks to this story, it's very clear that Gotham's greatest enemy isn't the Joker, it's everything else.
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