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A former DC Comics editor, Brian Augustyn wrote some of the first DC Elseworlds tales, including BATMAN: GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT. His other comics credits include THE FLASH, IMPULSE, THE RAY, BLACK CONDOR and more, as well as the indie comics sensation TROLLORDS.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
I beg to differ with the reader from the Phillipines. This is the first of DC Comics " Elseworlds " graphic novels, where they dared to take the popular franchise of Batman and do something radically different with it. But the amazing thing of it is, it works. Mike Mignola's artwork is at its moody best;giving the tale a dark and claustrophobic feel. The image of the Victorian Batman is one of Gothic power, particularly near the end as he chases the Ripper on a black charger. Very intimidiating. The story is an intriguing one, and I liked how the Ripper and the Batman were linked. At one point, because of his nightly abscences, Bruce Wayne is suspected of being the killer! Who is? Ah, there's the real mystery. Augustyn's writing is top notch, and he's clearly in love with this take on the Dark Knight. If you want more of the Victorian Batman, read the superb sequel Batman: Master of the Future. If only they'd create a new book, this Caped Crusader deserves more
DC Comics' Elseworlds imprint has been around a number of years. This imprint probably would not have gotten started "officially" had it not been for the first story in this TPB: Gotham By Gaslight. In it, Brian Augustyn shows a Gotham City highly unlike the one we are so used and yet still awkwardly familiar. This is Victorian Gotham. And Jack The Ripper has come calling for it. Enter Bruce Wayne, a rich man whose parents met with a tragic end in front of him only to be saved from his would-be killer by a swarm of bats. He becomes the Batman we all know and love. I'll stop the story here as I don't want to give too much away.
One thing that must be commented on is the artwork. Mike Mignola, of Hellboy fame, did the pencils in Gotham by Gaslight and P. Craig Russell mastermind behind the comic adaption of Richard Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung, inks. The combination of these excellent artists makes for a graphic story seldom seen these days. There is a steampunk feel to both stories that is rather interesting to see in a Batman story. It almost feels like one is reading Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen only with Batman as the main character.
If there is any real qualm I have with this TPB is the fact that Mignola does not do the artwork for Batman: Masters of the Universe although his replacement in quite good nonethless.
This book is sure to entertain any Batman fan out there and is also a very good read for anyone wanting to be entertained without thinkning of that nasty word we all know as "continuity."
The BATMAN: GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT trade paperback collects 2 prestige format Elseworlds books - Batman: Gotham by Gaslight, and the sequel, Batman: Master of the Future (in fact, Gotham by Gaslight was DC's first Elseworlds tale). Both stories are written by Brian Augustyn, with art for the first by Mike Mignola & P. Craig Russell, and the second handled by Eduardo Barreto. Both feature the Victorian Era Batman as he battles first Jack the Ripper, and then Alexarndre LeRoi, the self-styled Master of the Future. Gotham by Gaslight is an exceptional tale that provides a true mystery, as Batman pursues the Ripper through late 19th century Gotham. But even more than a mystery, it's an excellent retelling of the origin of Batman. Master of the Future, however, is a bland and contrived tale, solely designed to cash in on the success of the first story. LeRoi is just a knock-off of Jules Verne's Robur the Conqueror, right down to designing his appearance after Vincent Price, who played Robur in the 1961 movie "Master of the World". Better to just use Robur and bring the whole of Verne's universe into this alternate DCU - what a time that would have been! Both Mignola and Barreto do excellent work, but as Mignola put his definite artistic stamp on Gotham by Gaslight, I wish he would have illustrated both stories. So, the BATMAN: GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT trade is really just a much-needed reprint of the title story, with Master of the Future thrown in as an uninspired addendum.
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Released in 1989, Batman: Gotham by Gaslight was unofficially the first DC Elseworlds book. DC would go on to use the Elseworlds banner to cast their popular characters in alternate histories, worlds, etc.
Gotham by Gaslight finds Bruce Wayne donning the Batman costume in the late 1800's. Batman's arrival in Gotham City comes just as another dark figure makes his Gotham debut - notorious serial killer Jack the Ripper! Can an inexperienced Batman stop an elusive murderer that many people believe is Batman himself?
The novelty of the concept alone makes Gotham by Gaslight a fun read, and writer Brian Augustyn does an admirable job capturing the overall feel of the era. Mike Mignola's artwork is excellent as usual. The future Hellboy creator was the perfect choice for such a dark tale, though by having someone else ink his work - even someone as talented as P. Craig Russell - it takes away from that bold light and dark contrasting style Mignola does so well. Still, it's hard to argue with the results. Gotham by Gaslight is a thoroughly enjoyable Batman tale, and is noteworthy for launching the Elseworlds line.
PS - Am I alone in thinking Mignola's version of Jim Gordon looks a lot like Teddy Roosevelt?
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