I tried to investigate a bit: So I noticed that the compression method propably 
changed from gzip to bzip2, didn't it? The size does differ at least, and my 
GUI tools where not able to uncompress the versions 36 and 38. These are the 
one that I cannot boot into.

-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 37M Aug  7 17:00 /boot/initrd.img-4.4.0-31-generic
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 37M Aug 21 16:28 /boot/initrd.img-4.4.0-34-generic
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 16M Sep 14 20:06 /boot/initrd.img-4.4.0-36-generic
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 16M Sep 23 01:11 /boot/initrd.img-4.4.0-38-generic

I have bzip2 installed.

But when is the full-disk encryption password prompted for? Within the
initrd stage, after that has been loaded or before? So might bzip2 not
be available at that time or is initrd loaded, but other changes are the
reason for the kernel panik at password promt?

I am willing to investigate, but you'll have to give me some directions
/ hints.

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  4.4.0-36: keyboard dead at boot & full disk encryption prompt for

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