Blogging A to Z Day 8: Gotham

#AOkay, there are a lot of comic book shows on the air right now, with more on the way! The one departing the most from its comic source material, however, is probably Gotham. This is a show about the city of Gotham before the Batman – about a young detective Jim Gordon, and his cases. So instead of being a Batman crimefighting show, it’s another police procedural – there’s a lot of those on TV right now as well! They’re trying to tap into two TV themes at once, it would seem.

I used this on another review over at Comparative Geeks.

I used this on another review over at Comparative Geeks.

The case they opened with was the most obvious: the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents. With this case, we quickly get to see the corruption at the heart of Gotham city, and see the good cop Gordon at work. However, we also quickly get to see some of the show’s greatest limitations – limitations that I think will make Gotham a show that only has a few seasons in it, unless they make some big changes.

One is the obvious: with young Bruce Wayne in the show, we have placed the show in time. Batman is an adult, even if a young adult – so the show is years from having Batman on it, if it ever does. Which is okay – they seem to have purposefully made this a Batman show without Batman in it. However, they have to keep it an interesting Batman show without Batman in it, because what they don’t have is the option to bail themselves out by having Batman show up!

The other limitation becomes apparent the more of the show you watch. Increasingly, they are adding and including known Batman villains, either in their young incarnations (roughly the same age as young Bruce) or are including them more as adults at Gordon’s age. They run the risk of having included basically every Batman character except Batman within a few seasons – at which point, what do you do?

There’s a deeper problem with this, about Batman lore and some of the bigger-named Batman comics, like The Dark Knight Returns (which our kind host here on Sourcerer reviewed over on Comparative Geeks, and then I did too!). In these comics, as well as in movie representations like The Dark Knight, there is a gnawing doubt, a question – are there all of these crazy super-villains because of Batman, or is there Batman because of them? The answer in the comics tends towards Batman as the cause, like the Joker argues in The Dark Knight. However, the show Gotham is definitely setting up a city where the super villains are all there and waiting, and the city desperately needs a Batman.

A Batman who won’t be showing up to save them…

This post is by @CompGeeksDavid of the Comparative Geeks and regular Sourcerer contributor. For more A to Z geekery, check out Comparative Geeks!

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Azrael and the 1990s

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by Jeremy DeFatta

Happy new book day, everyone! I thought for today we could look at another one of the heirs to the Batman mantle. Pretty much everyone who read comics in the 90s knows (and likely loathes) the character I want to focus on today—Jean-Paul Valley, better known as Azrael.

The 90s were a dark and twisted time in comics. Books like Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns had been released just a few short years earlier and the industry was still reeling in their wake. However else fans chose to read these books, their dark turn is what stuck around the longest; death, violence, distrust of authority, and loss of identity became some of the most recognizable tropes of the decade’s superhero stories. This is the era that saw the founding of Image Comics, but that also saw many established characters in Marvel and DC broken in various ways. At DC, Superman and Oliver Queen were dead, Hal Jordan was an insane mass-murderer with godlike powers, and Batman had been thoroughly defeated and paralyzed by a new enemy called Bane.

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Best Versions of Bruce Wayne, p.1

Miller batman cover

by JeremyDefatta

Happy new book day, everyone! Welcome back for the fifth week of my series on Batman. Continuing from last week’s post on Bruce Wayne, I want to spend this week talking a little about my favorite versions of the character. I’ll break these up into two lists—one for canonical and semi-canonical depictions from the main comics series themselves, and one for non-canonical depictions in Elseworlds stories and non-comics media for next week. Let’s dive in!

Three of my favorite comic book depictions of Bruce Wayne as Batman in reverse chronological order:

  1. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo‘s run on the main Batman title has been pretty strong since the beginning of the New 52. The calculating violence, the addition of new villains like the Court of Owls and their Talon assassins, somehow making Bruce Wayne look roughly 30 despite having raised four Robins… This team has serious graphic storytelling chops. That, and issue #13, the first appearance of the Joker after he cuts off his own face and disappears for a year, is one of the most chilling single issues of a comic book I have ever read. There may have been urine.
  1. Grant Morrison‘s run from several years ago (not to mention periodic earlier forays into the character with Arkham Asylum, Batman: Gothic, and in his run on Justice League) are some of the best Batman stories around. Morrison’s writing style is controversial, though, so definitely try him out yourself before taking my word for it. Morrison really understands the mythical side of superheroes (as you can see in his highly underrated Final Crisis and in his prose book Supergods) and combines that with sprawling stories that show off Bruce Wayne as a world-hopping playboy and Batman as an unparalleled detective. One of the genuine joys in this version of the character is the revelation of how little Batman actually trusts the people around him; deep down, he expects everyone to fail him eventually, except maybe Alfred. Morrison‘s run also provides us with Batman, Incorporated, another concept worth returning to for discussion.

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