Arnold John Flass
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Cropped panel from Batman (vol. 1) #404 (February 1987).
Art by David Mazzucchelli
|First appearance||Batman (vol. 1) #404 (February 1987)|
|Created by||Frank Miller
|Full name||Arnold John Flass|
|Supporting character of||Batman|
Detective Arnold John Flass is a fictional character in the Batman universe, created by Frank Miller. Although he is a minor character, Flass plays a pivotal role in the Dark Knight's modern origin and, as such, has been adapted into the film Batman Begins.
Fictional character biography
Flass first appears in 1987's Batman: Year One, in which he is characterized as a corrupt detective in the Gotham City Police Department and a former Green Beret. He is Jim Gordon's partner, and Gordon's first introduction to the ugly reality of Gotham City. On their first patrol together, Gordon witnesses Flass beating up a teenager for fun.
Flass, who has been in Mafia boss Carmine Falcone's pocket for several years, resents Gordon's strong moral character, and worries that he will create problems for the department, which is built on corruption. One night, Flass and several other officers accost Gordon and beat him mercilessly in order to "teach him a lesson" with the threat of repeating not only on himself, but his family as well. Gordon soon turns the tables on Flass, however, beating him up and leaving him stripped of his clothes gagged and bound in the middle of the woods. By putting Flass in such a humiliating position, Gordon successfully ensured that his enemy would never admit that one man was capable of accosting him like that, and thus never harass Gordon and his family again for fear of exposing the truth.
Flass' troubles prove to be only beginning as he then encountered Batman as the corrupt police officer was taking a bribe from criminals and left him severely injured in the resulting altercation. Batman later intimidates a drug dealer named Skeevers, who turns on Flass and offers to testify against him. Then-Assistant District Attorney Harvey Dent offers Flass a plea bargain he cannot refuse: in exchange for testimony against Falcone and Police Commissioner Gillian B. Loeb, Flass would receive a lighter sentence. Flass accepts the deal and turns over extensive notes of his dealings with the Mob, giving Dent evidence to prosecute much of Gotham's organized crime.
After Year One, Flass made only occasional cameos in the Batman series. He is the third victim of the Hangman killer during the limited series Batman: Dark Victory (1999–2000), set a few years after Year One; the Hangman seeks to eliminate everyone who helped Dent's career as D.A., regardless of their motives for doing so. By this time, Flass has become a bouncer at a sleazy strip club called the "Cheetah Room", where the Hangman killer hangs him to death.
Flass' death in Dark Victory creates a continuity problem; namely, that Flass is portrayed as being alive when Jim Gordon married Sarah Essen Gordon in Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Annual #2 (1992) - a story that takes place chronologically after the events of Dark Victory (when Gordon is married to his first wife, Barbara).
In other media
- Arnold Flass appears in the television series Gotham, portrayed by Dash Mihok. As in the comic books, he is portrayed as a corrupt homicide detective with ties to drug dealers, and openly dislikes James Gordon. In the episode "Welcome Back Jim Gordon," he kills Leon Winkler, a witness to a drug deal gone bad, and forces Gordon off the case. Gordon eventually finds the ice pick that was used to kill Winkler and, with Captain Sarah Essen's help, arrests him for Winkler's murder. In the episode "Everyone Has a Cobblepot," Commissioner Gillian B. Loeb uses his hold on Harvey Bullock to get Arnold Flass exonerated for Leon Winkler's murder and is reinstated as a homicide detective. When encountered by Gordon, Flass states that he is like the phoenix and will continue to rise. However, this "rising" is short-lived when Gordon discovers evidence of Loeb's daughter Miriam being responsible for her mother's death, and in exchange for silence, demands Flass put on trial and his spot for president of police department given to Gordon.
- The 2005 film Batman Begins also featured a version of Detective Flass, portrayed by Mark Boone Junior. His uncouth behavior knows no bounds; stealing from a food vendor's tip box and laughing in the man's face. As in Year One, Flass is James Gordon's partner, and is in Carmine Falcone's pocket, serving as protection during one of Falcone's drug shipments (the first appearance of Batman in the film). He is last seen when he inhales Dr. Jonathan Crane's fear toxin released by Ra's al Ghul in Gotham, and hallucinates that two children running in the street are in fact monsters. He panics and tries to shoot the children, but Jim Gordon (who has already administered Fox's antidote) subdues and hand-cuffs him.
- According to The Gotham Times (a marketing site for The Dark Knight), Flass spends sometime in a mental hospital after being exposed to the toxin, and Harvey Dent eventually indicts him on charges of corruption. After Flass is dismissed from the GCPD, he loses his disability pension.
- Mark Boone Junior reprises his role of Det. Arnold Flass in the 2005 Batman Begins game. In the game, he has special dialogue with Batman and Victor Zsasz.
- Detective Flass is mentioned in Batman: Arkham Origins. It is mentioned by Black Mask in an extortion file that Loeb has already sent him and some of his men to "beat some sense into Gordon" referencing a scene in Batman: Year One.