Sarah Essen Gordon
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|Sarah Essen Gordon|
Sarah Essen Gordon as seen in Batman #406 (May 1987)
|First appearance||Batman #405 (March 1987)|
|Created by||Frank Miller
Fictional character biography
She first appears in Batman #405, part of the Batman: Year One storyline. Then simply Sarah Essen, she is a detective partnered with then-lieutenant James Gordon. Her exact age is never revealed, but it is later revealed in Greg Rucka's novelization of the "No Man's Land" storyline that she is 12 years younger than Gordon. Sarah's detective skills are shown as during her's and Gordon attempts to catch the Batman, she guesses (correctly) that he's Bruce Wayne by virtue of Bruce's history and the money needed for Batman's arsenal. She and the married Gordon start a brief affair, but when the corrupt Commissioner Gillian B. Loeb attempts to blackmail them, Gordon ends the affair and confesses his actions to his wife Barbara. Sarah leaves Gotham City for New York City soon after.
Editor Denny O'Neil later chose to revive the character as both an investigator and a love interest for Gordon. When she returns in Batman #458 (January 1991), it is explained that Sarah had married a New York cop who was killed in a drug bust. Gordon had long since divorced his wife Barbara, and the two begin a serious relationship, eventually resulting in Gordon proposing to her on a night when the police station is under attack by a trio of supervillains with electric powers. The two get married in Legends of the Dark Knight Annual #2 (1992). In the post-Infinite Crisis continuity (as seen in flashbacks in 2011's Detective Comics #875), Gordon and Essen were married much earlier, when Jim Gordon was still a lieutenant, and she had a more active role in raising her stepdaughter.
When James Gordon is demoted by Mayor Armand Krol in Batman #519 (June 1995), Sarah is given the job in his stead. Gordon later resigns from the Gotham City Police Department in the same issue. She takes on Gordon's collaboration with Batman and Robin, but does not like the job. Later, Sarah herself is fired from the GCPD by Krol, who is now a "lame duck" after recently losing in the mayoral election against Marion Grange. Essen is replaced as Commissioner by Andrew Howe, a close friend of Armand Krol. Grange later re-instates James Gordon as Commissioner, and also re-hires and promotes Sarah to serve as liaison between the GCPD and the mayor's office.
Sarah is murdered by the Joker in Detective Comics #741 (February 2000), at the end of "No Man's Land" arc. The Joker had kidnapped dozens of infants and was holding them in the basement of the police station. Sarah is the first to reach Joker's position. Although she has him at gunpoint, the Joker tosses an infant at her, and Sarah instinctively drops her weapon to catch the child, saving it from injury. The Joker then shoots Sarah in the head after a cold "Merry Christmas." The Joker seems to find no humor in this, as he is shown frowning as he walks away. He promptly surrenders to the police that arrive immediately afterward. Batman and Gordon catch up with the Joker soon after discovering Sarah's body. Batman steps aside, unable to bring himself to intervene. Enraged, Gordon shoots the Joker in the leg. At Sarah's funeral, her stepdaughter Barbara comments, "I always called her Sarah, and now it's too late to call her Mom." 
The Dark Knight Returns
Sarah was an unseen presence in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, an alternate future story. In it, she is his loving, stay at home wife. Gordon, by now a retiring police commissioner, inwardly repeats, "I think of Sarah. The rest is easy," as a kind of mantra. She is only glimpsed near the end, when she and Gordon embrace in silhouette. However in the movie adaptation of the story's second half, Sarah makes two brief appearances: one at home sending Gordon out for groceries, the other embracing him having fled their home after it is destroyed by fire.
All Star Batman and Robin
In issue #6, Gordon is talking to Sarah on the phone. Though he is married to Barbara at the time, dialogue indicates that Gordon still loves Sarah.
In other media
- Detective Sarah Essen appeared in Batman: Year One voiced by Katee Sackhoff.
- Sarah Essen appeared as the wife of James Gordon in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 2, voiced by Grey DeLisle.
- In Batman: Arkham City, although Sarah Essen herself is not explicitly referenced, 'Sarah' is the password used by Gordon's men when they infiltrate Arkham City to identify themselves as part of Gordon's strike team when talking to Batman; Batman must then rescue the team when they have been captured by Penguin.
- Batman (vol. 1) #405 (March 1987)
- Batman (vol. 1) #406 (April 1987)
- Detective Comics (vol. 1) #741 (February 2000)
- All Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder #6 (September 2006)
|GCPD Major Crimes Unit Shift Commander
|Gotham City Police Commissioner