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Gotham City in the Spotlight

The backdrop of any tale worth telling often becomes a character of its own, providing mood, texture and context for the happenings of the protagonist and antagonist alike.

The backdrop of any tale worth telling often becomes a character of its own, providing mood, texture and context for the happenings of the protagonist and antagonist alike.  For Batman, Gotham City is the ideal location for this dark sentinel of justice.  Since 1940, Gotham City’s spire-topped skyscrapers, shadowy alleyways and grotesque gargoyle structures have provided Batman with attack angles, camouflage and escape routes. 

A patchwork of maze-like streets and alleyways, there isn’t even a real consensus as to the inspiration for Gotham among those who helped craft its imagery.  Artist Frank Miller says Metropolis, where Superman does his thing, is New York during the day. While New York Times journalist William Safire says Gotham City is “New York below 14th Street, from SoHo to Greenwich Village, the Bowery, Little Italy and Chinatown.”

 This year, it would seem that DC Comics has decided to give this dark burg a bit of light in several vehicles designed to showcase the city and its people.  On November 26, DC Comics will release the graphic novel Gotham by Midnight.  Written by Ray Fawkes (Batman Eternal) and drawn by Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night), “Gotham by Midnight” is actually a spinoff of “Batman Eternal” and is being crafted in the vein of a gothic horror story with supernatural tenets. The main plot lines will center on the Midnight Shift, a unit of the Gotham City Police Department that is charged with investigating the unexplained and will be led by Detective Jim Corrigan.  Fans of DC Comics will recall that Corrigan also carries the Spectre within him an extremely powerful and magical figure who has been thrust upon Corrigan as a “Judgment from God”.  Others in this motley crew include Dr. Szandor Tarr and religious consultant Sister Justine.  This book will not feature Batman as a central character. However, he may make appearances periodically. 

“Gotham City is a pretty sick place, and also a wonderful place, one of the greatest cities in the DC Universe. The tack that some of the characters in this book take is that people like the Joker, Two-Face and Batman may be symptoms of something wrong with Gotham, and that may have a supernatural root. For me, the city is very Gothic, dark and shadowy, and it's sort of the perfect setting for things that creep in the night,” Fawkes told SyFy’s Blastr blog.


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In addition to Gotham by Midnight, the home of Batman will also be coming to television on Fox in September.  Initially depicted as a conduit to bring light to the early career of Commissioner James Gordon on the Gotham Police force, Gotham has since evolved to include David Mazouz as a very young Bruce Wayne.  It will also include the origin stories of the Joker, the Penguin, the Riddler, Catwoman, Harvey Dent and many others. Gotham will star Ben McKenzie as James Gordon, Jada Pinkett Smith as crime boss Fish Mooney, Sean Pertwee as Alfred Pennyworth, and Zabryna Guevara as Gotham City Police captain Sarah Essen.   


These offerings will be for the fan who is as much in love with the trappings and environment that spawned Batman as they are with the character himself.  However, it will not be long before Batman will once again be on the big screen in all of his glory in the live action film Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016. A precursor to a long rumored Justice League of America film, Batman v. Superman will star Ben Affleck as Batman, Henry Cavill as Superman, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and Jason Momoa as Aquaman.  

 

Ricardo A Hazell has served as Senior Contributor with The Shadow League since coming to the company in 2013. His byline has appeared in the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the South China Sea Post, the Root and many other publications. At TSL he is charged with exploring re black cultural angles of where they intersect with the mainstream.