As a child of the 90s, or a more accurate description would be a little brother under of the influence of two older brothers in the 90s, my 1st exposure to Batman was the Nightfall arc, which featured the iconic event of Bane breaking Batman’s back and Jean-Paul Valley’s stint as the Batman, but what really stood out to me in that story was one of the things that Bane did in the beginning, and that was engineering a breakout of all the prisoners locked up in Arkham Asylum, which is Gotham’s prison for the mentally ill and where most of Batman’s worst villains go to. It was chaos, madness, and the reader gets to see Bruce Wayne breakdown mentally because before he dealt with his villains one at time, and it took years of work, but within a night he has to face all of them knowing they are free. The story was reader friendly because it featured many Batman villains, known and obscure ones, and so it shed light on a lot of Batman’s history. With great covers too the series was memorable.
However when I got older, and read some of the 60s, 70s, and 80s Batman and Detective Comics that were collected in graphic novels, I started to just become enamored by the setting all of these villains roamed in. Using a fictional city gives writers and artists so much more to be creative, and we see Gotham to be such a dynamic bed of criminal and villainy. I’d like to think of it as mixture of New York, Chicago, and Las Vegas, but taking mostly the negative elements associated with these places and peppering pockets of positivity to create that spirit of hope. In a city like this it is no wonder the hero is a single child boy who has everything, but loses something that he can never get back, his parent’s lives. Gritty cop stories are some of my favorite stories, and gritty cities usually have that same aura that I can get behind. I watched a fair share of Batman the Animated Series, and my liking of the city of Gotham may be influenced by that show because the visual style of it was so incredibly done.
So when I was exposed to the Gotham TV series that aired last fall on FOX, I enjoyed it immediately. I didn’t complain that Batman was a kid because I’m not a “Batman” fan, but I do enjoy reading his stories for the world surrounding the Batman, and this TV series does a fun job predicting this decadent fiction metropolis. I’m on the side that thinks there should less Bruce Wayne because honestly a kid Bruce Wayne running around is stale (A kid versus a board of CEOs huh?), and a bunch of time is used to tell his story, but alas it is not perfect. Seeing a younger Gordon, Bulloch, and even Penguin are some of the personal highlights for me.
I use “fun” to describe the tone of the TV series because everything is ironic, I mean there are pretty dark characters like The Dollmaker and the Ogre that was introduced this week, but the tone is still light-hearted. In a world where the Forensics team take objects from a crime scene, criminal gangs are more organized than the government, and the only honest cops are in Internal Affairs (in other cop stories the most corrupt cops are usually in IA). I do appreciate the consistency even if it is silly compared to the real world, but that’s not why I want to watch a TV series depicting a comic book world. However the most ironic thing though about this is not even the TV show, but a song by R. Kelly of the same name that was released with the 4th Batman movie, Batman and Robin. The song itself is great, Comic Book properties need more songs in the RnB genre, really creates an uplifting tone, but the lyrics do not depict Gotham City, or at least how I have come to understand it. “A City of Justice, A City of Love, A City of Peace, For Everyone of Us…” That is literally everything it is not, and hence why Batman exists. But I still have to sing along with the chorus whenever I hear it.