Category Archives: geek stuff

Gotham VS Batman

Gotham
VS
Batman

Please excuse if this is a tad out of date as I wrote it a few weeks ago
Gotham has achieved world-wide success since airing last September. We have already looked at the trailer for the latest episode. It has given new life to the infamous detective comic series Batman. The Batman comics have such a cult following and in depth back story, that it’s a brave move by Fox to make this series. However, whilst Gotham is a truly excellent TV series in its own right. It’s not necessarily true to the original Batman story. Gotham has managed to pack a lot of super villains into the series so far, but by doing this they have confused or even neglected to address a lot of major points within the story. The strangest character for me was Harvey Dent; or Two Face as we also know him. Two Face has become a popular super villain again for fans after the release of the Hush graphic novels (taken from a 2002 story arc of the same name). Gotham gave a completely new back story to Two Face. The comic series sees District Attorney; Harvey Dent go insane after Sal Maroni throws acid in his face. Scarring the entire left side of his face. The one part of the Dent character that Gotham incorporated was his coin flipping gimmick. In the comics this is how he decides which persona he is going to take on. In the series it’s a means of scaring children away from crime which is a little different however. In Gotham Two Face is born with a scarred face and has plastic surgery to make him appear as if nothing was ever wrong. He then goes on the prowl for his “soul mate”. Killing any that aren’t quite up to the job. Detective (or commissioner depending which angle you’re reading this from) Gordon shoots Two Face in the head in episode 21, closing off that story line forever. 

Video link: https://youtu.be/3zByqJjbPoA

Fish mooney is quite a pivotal character within the Gotham series. She was created just for TV purposes, she never appeared in the DC universe. Fish or Maria Mooney is a gangster who works with Sal Maroni, Dr Dulmacher (that would be Dollmaker to anyone that’s ever read a Batman comic) and the Penguin in order to boost her own profile in Gotham. I really don’t understand why they have chosen to spend so much time on building a new character. There are so many aspects or the other, more well-known characters that they could have dug a bit deeper into.

The Joker for example. This threw me off completely. The Killing Joke story written by Alan Moore is very famous and gives readers an essence of why The Joker is the way he is. The Killing Joke shows that The Joker was a failing comedian with a pregnant girlfriend who got involved with the red hood gang (also appear in the series) to earn some money. They arrange for him to lead them through a chemical plant he used to work at. Joker’s girlfriend dies but he is forced to go through with the plan regardless. New security has since been installed and the gang get caught, Joker falls into a pit of chemical waste which turns his skin white and his hair green. The Joker then emerges from the waste laughing manically. Gotham shows The Joker as a teenager called Jerome. Jerome kills his mother, it seems that she was a whore and did this around Jerome as a child. Clearly this has had some lasting and negative effects on his mental health! Jerome is then taken to Arkham where he is released by another character that we are not entirely sure of the origins of yet!

Video link: https://youtu.be/gROKtojleQg

Throughout the comic series, a lot of emphasis is but on the fact that Batman represents the order and authority within the world. The Joker is the chaos. Without one, there is no need for the other. The Joker only exists as a result of Batman’s need to have order in Gotham city, that’s what feeds him. So why have such a weak backstory for such an important character? It is still early in season 2, Jerome seems to have a lot of screen time so perhaps they will reveal some more about him that will make sense of his personality. 

Jim Gordon’s wife; Barbara Kean appears in the comic series as a normal, loving wife and mother. That is until she dies of unknown circumstances. Gotham have her as a cold, hard psychopath! Jim ditches Babs for Leslie Thompkins and she finds herself involved with Harvey Dent, Two Face as we discussed earlier. Dent thinks that Barbara is the one, his soul mate so he doesn’t kill her like the other women. She manages to escape after quite an unpleasant ordeal shall we say. She appears to be recovering but then out of the blue tries to stab Thompkins in the middle of a counselling session. Kean gets sent to Arkham where she becomes an entirely different character. She is calculated and manipulative, nothing like the character from the comic series. 

Obviously Fox weren’t going to stick exactly to the same story lines the comics followed, they were going to bring something new to the story. Gotham is almost too detached from Batman to be even considered to be any part of the existing DC universes. I really do enjoy Gotham as a standalone series, but I do have to remind myself of that at times. Gotham could almost be considered a new universe of it’s own? As a fan of the comics I am very familiar with the origins of these characters and to create entirely new ones I feel is unnecessary. I would have liked to have seen Gotham focus on the super-villains as they are. Just in a different time period. 

The Killing Joke

Having never really paid much attention to the Batman series in the past, I have seen various films but I have never taken an interest in the back story, until now:

Since discovering the Legendary deck building game by Marvel I have become intrigued with the Marvel and DC universes. Whilst on the face of it, Batman stories are based on Bruce Wayne’s alter ego and various super-villains within Gotham. It is when you look into the earlier stories and character back stories, such as the killing joke, that the batman series begins to make sense.

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I have literally just finished the 2008 edition of The Killing Joke graphic novel, while I thoroughly enjoyed it, I do feel it is lacking in certain areas. Firstly, I felt that the end of the story was very ambiguous, something that the writer, Alan Moore addresses in the re edition but still, to me the story felt as if it had been cut of half way through. Also as Alan also points out, it doesn’t necessarily make sense to have an origin story for the joker. As the joker states, he remembers the incident which turned him mad differently all the time, the creators seem to be limiting themselves by giving a definitive story rather than having multiple options, potentially left inconclusive to keep some of the mystery and creepiness around the joker character as I found myself actually sympathizing with the character after reading his back story, which is not how I want to feel towards one of the greatest super villain characters ever created.

I did however, really like how dark and sinister the artwork and story were. Moore has recolored the comic books as he was unhappy with the original artwork, he says he also made other small edits so each page has slight changes in them. One particular point he makes is how he changes the flash back scenes to black and white, yet chooses one item per cell which is extremely red in colour.

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So a quick overview of the story is that the joker escapes from Arkham Asylum, upon escaping he visits the commissioner of the Gotham city police, James Gordon in an attempt to drive him insane and to understand the joker, that he is no different to anyone else, he was driven to madness and madness is easier than dealing with reality. Joker shoots commissioner Gordon’s daughter Barbara (aka Batgirl) and subjects the commissioner to images of his daughter, naked and bleeding on the floor after the incident whilst holding the commissioner in his freak show as a man with belief in good and order as his freakish point. Obviously the Joker fails and is caught by Batman.

It has been announced that an animated version of the killing joke is to be made, and Mark Hamill has been confirmed to voice the Joker. Bruce Timm is set to produce the film which should be released in 2016. It has also been reported that there will be a 15 minute prologue to set up the story, which may go further into the back story of the Jokers madness.

After reading this I have also got Batman: the man who laughs, which is the 2005 follow up novel to the killing joke and Arkham asylum. I opted for Arkham asylum purely because of the story, it revolves round the Joker and other inmates trying to take over the asylum, the asylum also plays a central role in the upcoming Suicide Squad film from DC, which includes Jared Leto taking up a new Joker.

What are your favorite graphic novels or DC/Marvel stories?