Harvey Bullock (comics)

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Harvey Bullock
GothamCentralCv22.jpg
Cover to Gotham Central #22 (October 2004).
Art by Michael Lark.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Detective Comics #441 (June 1974)
Created by Archie Goodwin (writer); Howard Chaykin (artist)
In-story information
Full name Harvey Bullock
Team affiliations GCPD
Checkmate
Supporting character of Batman

Harvey Bullock is a fictional character from DC Comics' Batman titles.[1]

Fictional character biography[edit]

Prior to the 1984-85 DC maxi-series Crisis on Infinite Earths, Bullock is a crooked police detective under instructions from Gotham City's Mayor Hamilton Hill to sabotage Commissioner Gordon's career.[1] His method of doing so is to pretend to be exceedingly clumsy, thereby spoiling whatever Gordon is trying to do, seemingly accidentally. After inadvertently giving Gordon a heart attack, however, Bullock turns over a new leaf. His character later develops into a well-meaning cop who (probably) is exceedingly clumsy, similar to the later animated version. He also forms a close bond with Robin, based initially on their mutual love of old movies. Subsequent to this, he is a Bishop in the spy organization Checkmate.

Post-Crisis[edit]

Following the continuity changes brought about in most of DC's comics by Crisis, Bullock is perhaps the most controversial police officer in the Gotham City Police Department. His colleagues in the Major Crimes Unit will swear up and down that he is a good cop, despite his reputation for taking bribes,[2] police brutality, and ties to organized crime. However, he also has elements of the earlier character, including a fondness for doughnuts and a hidden sentimental streak. He also has a romance with a widow he meets during work.[3]

This new post-Crisis Bullock was retconned as having been loyal to Gordon from the start. Even before he makes detective, he stays by Gordon during one of the Joker's earlier rampages. He saves Gordon's life with careful driving and helps him work through the clues. Ultimately, without Batman's assistance, Bullock and Gordon stop the Joker from causing an explosion that would have leveled Gotham City. During the entire case Bullock plays the part of (or was) the "bad cop," intimidating and threatening whoever gets in his way. At this point, Bullock still wears a regular police uniform.

Made detective[edit]

Several years later, Bullock is made detective. He again works closely with Gordon, as part of a small crew of people Gordon knows he can trust. This group includes Maggie Sawyer, Harvey Dent, and Detective Cohen as they try to bring down Sal Maroni. Though Gordon knows of and has recordings of Bullock's brutality against suspects, he brings him in because the man has never accepted bribes. The events surrounding this squad work around the events of Batman: The Long Halloween. Bullock and the group are then joined by Crispus Allen, they take down a gathering of Gotham's 'freaks', such as the Joker, Clayface and Scarecrow.[4] Later Bullock is partnered with Renee Montoya and they both become very loyal to each other. For a time Bullock works with the international spy agency Checkmate.[5] They confront threats ranging from counterfeiters to cult-terrorists. He has a rocky relationship with those above him, such as defying intelligence expert Amanda Waller over the proposed murder of heroic vigilante Black Thorn.[6]

Bullock is badly injured during a confrontation with the KGBeast, who has gained control of a small nuclear weapon. Robin and several members of the Gotham City Police Department brave a burning chemical plant, partly to save his life. Bullock almost dies during this incident, but is saved by CPR administered by Robin. Mackenzie "Hardback" Bock, a newcomer to the force, becomes involved, helping Robin carry Harvey out of harm's way. The nuclear bomb is then neutralized by Batman.

Bullock also gained his own story arc "A Bullet For Bullock" by Chuck Dixon. The story is about someone trying to kill him, which was also adapted in to an episode for Batman: The Animated Series.

Bullock is on the front lines during the 'Knightfall' storyline when Arkham empties and it's inmates run riot through the streets. Bullock takes control when Riddler takes an entire talk show hostage.[7] He's almost obliterated by a bomb planted in the mayor's mansion; he is saved at the last second by Batman.[8]

Earthquake[edit]

In the Batman: Cataclysm storyline, Bullock is confronting Anarky in a shopping mall when an earthquake hits Gotham City. Both save their own lives by diving into a hollow art structure. Despite this, Bullock's arm is impaled by a tube of metal. He does not let this stop him. He makes his way back to the badly damaged police headquarters.

As soon as he learns Gordon is missing, he slams his arm against a wall, knocking out the bar and institutes a search. Bullock finds and saves a rattled Gordon from the debris of his own office.[9]

A few weeks later, Gotham is shut down and closed off by the government in the incident known as No Man's Land. Bullock and several other officers, Renee included, willingly stay behind to assist Gordon. Bullock sticks by Gordon through the death of many fellow officers. When SWAT leader Billy Pettit revolts and takes even more officers with him, Bullock sticks with Gordon. Renee herself is even lost for a while due to Two-Face. In the end, efforts led by Lex Luthor re-open Gotham. Gordon, Bullock, Renee and the remaining officers (Pettit and the others had been killed) are given their jobs back. Bullock is then promoted to lieutenant and becomes the shift commander of the GCPD's Major Crimes Unit.[10]

In the "Officer Down" storyline, disgruntled former officer Jordan Rich attempts to kill Gordon. Afterwards, a vengeful Bullock reveals Rich's location to the Mafia, thereby indirectly killing the shooter. When evidence of this comes out, he resigns from the force.[11]

He then appears in the "Unresolved" story arc in Gotham Central, where he has descended into a life of alcoholism and is shown contemplating suicide.

Back on the force[edit]

As part of DC's "One Year Later" storyline, Bullock has returned to the GCPD, with the understanding that he is not allowed a single mistake. The circumstances behind this are unknown, the only clue so far being the line, "Six months since Harvey Bullock made his discoveries." Batman and Bullock have made their peace, agreeing to give each other a second chance after their past disagreements, Batman informing Bullock that he considers the ledger 'erased' and his opinion of Bullock as a detective restarting as of that moment.[1]

Bullock is seen as one of the leads against the fight of a war between unauthorized Joker and Batman gangs. [12]

Other versions[edit]

JLA: The Nail[edit]

In the Elseworlds series JLA: The Nail, Bullock is shown to be Gotham's Commissioner of Police (Reference is made to Gordon having been murdered, but nothing specific is known about his death). Bullock is even shown defending Batman against reporters in one panel, an opposite of mainstream Bullock.[13]

Flashpoint[edit]

In the Flashpoint universe, Harvey Bullock is a severe alcoholic who patronizes Montoya's bar. Batman interrogated him for information on the Joker.[14]

Earth One[edit]

The Batman: Earth One graphic novel features a very different Bullock. This Bullock is young and handsome, and has formerly been a star of a reality show called Hollywood Detectives. He comes to Gotham in order to get more fame by solving the old Wayne Murder case. Partnered with Jim Gordon, he at first believes that Gordon is taking bribes, but later finds out that the real reason Gordon doesn't stop crimes is because he fears that the mob will kill his daughter like they allegedly killed his wife. When Barbara Gordon is kidnapped by a murderer known as the Birthday Boy, the two go to rescue her, and they manage to do it with Batman's help. However, finding the bodies of Birthday Boy's previous victims breaks Bullock and he becomes an alcoholic (He has previously said that he had never tried alcohol in his life).[15]

In other media[edit]

Television[edit]

  • Bullock appears in Batman: The Animated Series voiced by Robert Costanzo. He is only vaguely similar to this persona and he is still a staunch opponent of the Batman, has something of a gruff, tough guy exterior. He is much more benign (and closer to the later Pre-Crisis version). Bullock tends to alternate slightly in his role and nature. At times, he is nothing more than an oafish character, while other episodes show him in a really more serious context as a capable detective. Many episodes blend both of these aspects, thus giving more dimensions to the character. Despite his somewhat corpulent appearance, he is shown in a few episodes to be a capable fighter. Rather than smoking cigars, he chews toothpicks and eats doughnuts. He was featured prominently in the episode "P.O.V.", in which he and two other officers are questioned about how and why an important bust ended in colossal failure. In his recounting, Bullock's voice-over tells a variant on what is visually shown, in which he is painted in a much more heroic light. In this episode Bullock is responsible for screwing up the heist. He trips over an oil can, and alerts the bad guys that he is there. He then somewhat redeems himself, by taking on a group of his attackers single handedly. He handles himself quite well in the fight, but accidentally starts a fire in the process, from which he needs to be saved by Batman. The effect given in the series is that of an honest, if not exactly by the book, cop who merely looks like the stereotypical corrupt detective. At one point, when Batman insinuates that Bullock is on the take, Bullock reacts as if he was insulted. Although he dislikes and distrusts Batman, Bullock develops a grudging respect for the Dark Knight when Batman saves him from The Joker in "The Laughing Fish". It is also revealed that Bullock knows the existence of the Batcomputer, but how Bullock learned of it is unrevealed. It's possible though he just might have been referring to a computer used by Batman as a "Batcomputer" akin to the 1960s TV series habit of everything having a bat- prefix. Bullock, along with Commissioner Gordon, Mayor Hill and Carl Rossum, is saved again by Batman in the two-part episode "Heart of Steel" when he and the others are abducted for the evil HARDAC computer's master plan to create robotic duplicates out of Gotham's officials and take tyrannical control of the city. The android Bullock has a notable fight scene against Batman in said episode, although Batman defeats the duplicate by pushing him off a building and onto the Bat-Signal. By the episode "The Man Who Killed Batman," Bullock's respect for Batman was such that he was visibly saddened by the news of the vigilante's apparent "death" at the hands of Sidney "Sid the Squid" Debris. He has also used the Bat-Signal in Gordon's absence on two occasions, in the episodes "Lock-Up" and "A Bullet For Bullock." Bullock earns the wrath of criminal Killer Croc after Bullock sends him to prison for killing a trade union member. Croc swears revenge on Bullock, and attempts to frame him for sabotage, kidnap and murder in the episode "Vendetta." Bullock is sent to prison, but Batman clears his name, much to Bullock's surprise, as he had often caused nothing but a headache for Batman in the past. In "A Bullet For Bullock," directly adapted from Detective Comics #651, Bullock teams up with Batman to find out who is behind several attempts on his life. At first, it appears to be a mob boss named Vinnie "The Shark" Starkey, but it is later revealed that it is actually his own landlord having been driven crazy by Bullock's rudeness and sloppiness.
  • Robert Costanzo as the voice of Detective Bullock later makes small guest appearances in Superman: The Animated Series. He reprises this role in the Static Shock episode "Hard as Nails." He is first seen with some cops arresting some crooks that Batman had already caught. When Batman and Static visit Commissioner Gordon and Harvey Bullock, they tell them that Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn have held up a ship containing gold bricks. After Batman and Static leave, Harvey asks Commissioner Gordon "What the heck did Robin do to his hair" when talking about Static causing Commissioner Gordon to shake his head in disappointment.
  • This character will be appear in Fox's upcoming series Gotham with Donal Logue portraying Bullock. This will be the first live action appearance of Detective Bullock.[16] 

Film[edit]

  • While the character has never been depicted in a live-action film, aspects have been used for other characters. A character with similar traits to Harvey Bullock named Lt. Maxwell Eckhardt appeared in the 1989 film Batman, working for Jack Napier (who will later become the villain Joker). He is later killed by Napier when Eckhardt seemingly betrayed Carl Grissom. He was portrayed by William Hootkins.
  • Bullock appears in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, a movie spin-off from Batman: The Animated Series, and is voiced again by Robert Costanzo. In the film, when Batman is framed by a mysterious killer for the deaths of several mobsters, Bullock conducts his own manhunt for the Dark Knight with support from corrupt Councilman Arthur Reeves. Bullock very nearly succeeds in catching Batman in a police chase that culminates in a gunfight inside a construction site and an explosion, although Bullock's rage at the trigger-happy officer who caused the explosion makes it clear that he wants to capture Batman alive. Despite being severely injured and unmasked, Batman manages to escape from Bullock, who does not see Batman's face.
  • Bullock also appears in Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero, the sequel to Mask of the Phantasm, again voiced by Costanzo. His appearance here is very brief, only in the aftermath of Barbara Gordon's abduction by Mr. Freeze.
  • Bullock also appears in Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman, the sequel to Mask of the Phantasm and SubZero, again voiced by Costanzo. He aids Batman and Gordon in the investigation of the mysterious Batwoman and her ties to the Penguin and Rupert Thorne. He still displays a cold demeanour towards Batman, but toned down, implying that he has fully accepted him as an ally. His new partner is Sonia Alcana, who is also one of the three Batwomen.
  • In the 2005 film Batman Begins, the character Arnold Flass was depicted as slovenly and overweight, as compared to his athletic and tidy comic counterpart. In the sequel, The Dark Knight, two characters, the good but tough cop Stephens (Keith Szarabajka) and the corrupt Weurtz (Ron Dean), share similarities to Bullock, including high position on the Major Crimes Unit.

Video games[edit]

  • Bullock also features as an NPC in the MMORPG DC Universe Online. In the hero campaign, the players encounter Harvey Bullock in a greenhouse where Poison Ivy is using as a hideout.
  • Harvey Bullock appears as a somewhat reluctant ally of Captain Gordon in Batman: Arkham Origins, with Robert Constanzo reprising the role. He is rather untrustworthy of Batman's work against crime and is teetering on the boundaries of corruption, though he has yet to commit any particularly illegal acts where civilians are concerned. It is later revealed through extortion files collected by Edward Nashton (a.k.a., Edward Nigma) that Bullock was ordered to become Gordon's partner by corrupt Police Commissioner, Gillian B. Loeb. This was a strategic move in order to find information on Gordon to blackmail and effectively control him since brute force proved to be futile against the police captain and Black Mask, Loeb's own benefactor who pays off the police, believes Gordon is good for the public image of a thoroughly corrupt police department. However, during the course of this investigation, Bullock begins to gain a deep respect for Gordon after seeing just how honest and brave he is, with the game implying that Gordon's eventual leadership allows Bullock to become a trusted friend and ally for Gordon to depend on and stamps out any potential for corruptness.

Radio[edit]

Miscellaneous[edit]

  • In the comic book The Batman Adventures, Bullock is forced to resign after Oswald Cobblepot becomes mayor, thanks to Temple Fugate rigging the elections to exact revenge on Mayor Hill. As with the DCU version, he becomes a private detective. This presumably not in the DCAU canon however.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Wallace, Dan (2008), "Sgt. Bullock", in Dougall, Alastair, The DC Comics Encyclopedia, London: Dorling Kindersley, p. 63, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5 
  2. ^ Robert Greenberger. (2008). The Essential Batman Encyclopedia. Random House. ISBN 9780345501066. 
  3. ^ "Batman" #397 (July 1, 1986)
  4. ^ Two Face: Year One #1-2 (September–October 2008)
  5. ^ Checkmate (vol. 1) #1 (April 1988)
  6. ^ Checkmate (vol. 1) #8 (November 1988)
  7. ^ "Detective Comics" #662 (June 1993)
  8. ^ "Batman" #496 (July 1993)
  9. ^ Batman (vol. 1) #553 (April 1998)
  10. ^ Detective Comics (vol. 1) #742 (March 2000)
  11. ^ Detective Comics (vol. 1) #762 (November 2001)
  12. ^ "Detective Comics" #867-870 (2010)
  13. ^ JLA: The Nail #1 (August 1998)
  14. ^ Flashpoint: Batman - Knight of Vengeance #2 (July 2011)
  15. ^ Batman: Earth One (July 2012)
  16. ^ [hhttp://hitfix.com/the-fien-print/terriers-star-officially-lands-key-gotham-role "'Terriers' star officially lands key 'Gotham' role"]. TV Guide. 2014-02-12. Retrieved February 12, 2014. 
Preceded by
Sarah Essen Gordon
GCPD Major Crimes Unit Shift Commander
2000–2001
Succeeded by
Maggie Sawyer