Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Book Review: Batman: Gotham by Gaslight

Batman: Gotham by Gaslight by Brian Augustyn, Mike Mignola, etc.

DC Comics had a line of stories called Elseworlds. In these comics, "heroes are taken from their usual settings and put into strange times and places--some that have existed or might have existed, and others that can't, couldn't or shouldn't exist." [Inside cover] In this particular book, Gotham by Gaslight, Batman is put back into the Victorian era. He's still in Gotham City which is in America, but he lives in the late 1800s.

The first story in the book pits Batman against Jack the Ripper. After committing his series of crimes in London, the Ripper comes to Gotham and starts killing again. Can Batman take him down? The resolution has a measure of brains and brawns involved, making for a good Batman tale. Mignola's drawings are evocative of the Victorian era with a Gothic feel.

Mignola's Gothic Gotham (click to enlarge)

The second story is called "Master of the Future" and pits Batman against a madman determined to stop the mayor's city fair. Bruce Wayne struggles with retiring. He's already caught his parents' killer and now has no personal vendetta to pursue. But does he have a public duty, to protect the city? The issue is resolved in a way readers can easily guess but at least the discussion makes the story more interesting. This art is by Eduardo Barreto and also evokes the Victorian vibe but with a more colorful, optimistic look.

Barreto's brighter Victorian day (click to enlarge)

Overall, this is a good, not great, book. I was interested in it as a Mignola fan (he's the writer/artist for Hellboy) and was satisfied to see some of his early work. The flashbacks in his story are very much in his style. And I think Batman looks very much like Hellboy in the panel above!

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