When it comes to Batman and DC in general, I have read/owned the big storylines. I’ve read the Dark Knight Returns, most of the Batman New 52 run, and I have The Long Halloween and Dark Victory (I also own a copy of Knightfall where Bane breaks Batman’s back). Like most people when they started reading superhero comics, I had my “I really like Batman” phase. Some people move on, and others don’t. I did and tried out almost every other hero.
What I missed in my Batman phase was the Elseworld story from 1989: Gotham by Gaslight. And it was a hell of a story to miss. (As always I will plead: it came out four years before I was born.)
The premise was enough to have me on board. One day a few months ago Bob (AFJ's Editorial Director) told me that Gotham by Gaslight was about to be made into a DC Animated Film (see our coverage here) and gave me the pitch: Jack the Ripper comes to Victorian Gotham and Batman is there to catch him.
I bought the comic the first chance that I had.
For a story set 100 years earlier than when it was written, Brian Augustyn captures the language of the period very well. That coupled with the artists’ (Michael Mignola, P. Craig Russel, David Hornung, and John Workman) late 19th-century version of Gotham, it pulls you into this story. Though Gotham by Gaslight and its sequel Master of the Future (which was included in the trade I picked up) are relatively short, the reason I read it all in one sitting is that I couldn’t put it down.
The story is exciting and compelling, developing Batman as a character I a new time period, but also Jack the Ripper as well. I like to keep the Noob spoiler free so I won’t say what that development is, but it is good.
Elseworlds or “What If” storylines are not a new thing for me. I’ve heard of a lot of them (Superman: Red Son was a popular one when I was younger), but a majority of them, if not all, came out before I started reading comic books five or six years ago. It is fitting that I stared at the first official Elseworld comic, but I imagine this story had a bigger impact on those readers that experienced it when it was truly the first of its kind. However, this brings me to another thought.
One of the biggest problems that my generation faces when it comes to superhero comics is that there is so much material to sort through. What’s good? What’s bad? Should I read this? Should I read that? And this will only get more overwhelming for future generations. My solution has been getting advice from my more experienced peers. It worked for Gotham by Gaslight.
So, let me know if there are any other comics I should read, Junkies. Also let me know what you think of Gotham by Gaslight and your thoughts on the upcoming DC Animated version (releasing January 23rd, 2018).
Happy New Year, Junkies, See you next week!