Gotham by Gaslight

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Gotham by Gaslight
Gotham by Gaslight (February 1989). Art by Mike Mignola.
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
FormatOne-shot
Genre
Publication dateFebruary 1989
No. of issues1
Main character(s)Batman
Jack the Ripper
Creative team
Written byBrian Augustyn
Artist(s)Mike Mignola
Inker(s)P. Craig Russell
Editor(s)Mark Waid
Collected editions
Gotham by GaslightISBN 0-930289-67-6
Gotham by Gaslight (inc. Batman: Master of the Future)ISBN 1-4012-1153-4

Gotham by Gaslight is a DC Comics one-shot by Brian Augustyn and Mike Mignola, with inks by P. Craig Russell. The story revolves around a 19th century version of Bruce Wayne making his debut as Batman just as Jack the Ripper has arrived in Gotham City.

Although it was not initially labeled as such, Gotham by Gaslight is considered to be the first Elseworlds story in which DC Comics characters from alternate timelines or realities are featured in stories outside of the DC Universe canon. While not originally labelled as such, subsequent printings of Gotham by Gaslight have incorporated the Elseworlds logo. It spawned one sequel, Batman: Master of the Future (1991), also written by Augustyn, with art by Eduardo Barreto.

Plot summaries[edit]

Gotham by Gaslight[edit]

In 1889, Bruce Wayne is on a tour of Europe which ends in Vienna. There he is studying under Dr. Freud. Bruce tells Freud that he has a recurring dream in which he recalls the murder of his parents and decides he must return to Gotham City. On the return trip, Bruce meets Jacob Packer, an old family friend whom he calls Uncle Jake, who also returned from a trip to Europe.

Shortly after arriving, Inspector Gordon informs Wayne about criminal gangs currently operating in Gotham. Gordon also shows Bruce the case of a man who poisoned his wife and tried to commit suicide with the poison, which left him alive with a permanent grin. Bruce takes up the mantle of Batman to fight criminals on the street.

At the same time, a series of murders of women take place and some people begin to suspect that Batman is the murderer. It is soon discovered that Jack the Ripper has come to Gotham, as the murders in Gotham City seem to resemble the Ripper murders.

After a search of Wayne Manor, a bloody knife is found under Bruce's bed and Bruce is arrested. A trial is held in which Uncle Jake is Bruce's defense attorney. After the trial, Bruce is convicted of being the Ripper and sentenced to be hanged for his crimes. Bruce is imprisoned in Arkham Asylum.

Once Bruce is in prison, Gordon gives him all the documentation on the crimes. Bruce toils day and night to try to figure out how he can get the Ripper. Just one day before the execution, Bruce learns the identity of the Ripper by discovering he had the skill of a surgeon and used a knife that belonged to the medical group who worked with his father. Bruce escapes from prison with the help of Alfred and heads straight for the Ripper.

Batman interrupts the Ripper as he is about to claim his next victim. Batman chases the Ripper throughout Gotham and the two eventually come to a stop at the grave of Thomas and Martha Wayne, where it is revealed that Jacob Packer is the Ripper. Packer had been trained in medicine and law with the money of Thomas Wayne, but he was driven insane by Martha Wayne's rejection of his advances. Since then he had been killing women who resembled Martha to silence the laughter of Martha he heard in his head.

Packer reveals that he hired an assassin to kill Bruce's parents. Gordon appears at this time with the police and Batman tells them to arrest Packer. Packer confesses that he is the Ripper and tries to kill Batman, but Gordon shoots Packer dead at the last minute. Batman disappears into the shadows, leaving Gordon to take in the body of Jack the Ripper.

Batman: Master of the Future[edit]

In 1892, three years later, Bruce has "retired" his alter-ego and is engaged to be married. Having brought his parents' murderer to justice, he has come to regard being Batman as a childish fancy, and intends to devote his life to more serious pursuits. Others believe that Gotham City needs Batman more than ever, namely now-Commissioner Gordon and Bruce's own fiancée, Julie Madison (whom Batman rescued from a late-night assault).

At a City Council meeting, Mayor Tolliver (the former Police Commissioner who aggressively prosecuted Bruce as the suspected Ripper) is promoting Gotham's hosting of the "American Discovery Exposition" to market Gotham as the "City of the Future". The meeting is interrupted by the flamboyant Alexandre LeRoi, who demands that he be proclaimed master of the city, or else he will burn it to the ground. He leaps out the window before he can be arrested, and Tolliver insists that the fair proceed.

While the fairgrounds are being erected, a Maxim Gun on an automated carriage rolls in and opens fire. Bruce, in attendance, pushes Tolliver out of the line of fire and disables the machine.

On the opening day of the fair, LeRoi kidnaps Tolliver from his mansion and takes him aboard an airship, forcing him to watch as LeRoi focuses a giant burning glass on the fair's main pavilion, before LeRoi throws Tolliver over the side to his death. Bruce is desperate to act, when Alfred arrives with his costume.

With the police fully occupied, Julie runs into the burning pavilion to rescue a small girl, but both of them are trapped by falling debris. Batman saves them, then fashions an improvised glider and takes off after LeRoi's airship. The two men engage in a brutal rapier duel that disables LeRoi's robotic pilot "Antonio", causing the airship to drift off course and become unstable. Noticing this, Batman urges LeRoi to surrender and abandon ship, but LeRoi refuses to believe him. Batman jumps overboard, but LeRoi is trapped as the airship crashes into the ocean and explodes. More than a hundred people are killed by LeRoi's fires, but further fatalities and destruction are prevented by the Gotham Police and firefighters.

Batman confronts Councilman Franklin Claypool, who confesses to being LeRoi's accomplice and providing him with information for his attack. Claypool secretly owns a large portion of Gotham City's slum housing, which he expected to sell profitably through his proposed redevelopment program, but the program was pushed aside by Tolliver in favor of the fair. LeRoi agreed to target Claypool's properties, allowing Claypool to collect a lucrative insurance payout, but Claypool never intended the deaths LeRoi's actions caused, and so does not resist when Gordon arrives to arrest him.

Bruce and Julie are walking along a hilltop overlooking the city, when she reveals that she recognized him at the fair, even through his mask. Apprehensively, he asks her what she plans to do, and she replies, what she has always done: continue to love and encourage him, especially now that they both agree that Gotham still needs Batman.

Publication history[edit]

Gotham by Gaslight, which retroactively became the first official Elseworlds publication, was initially released as a 52-page one-shot in February 1989. It was written by Brian Augustyn and pencilled by Mike Mignola, with inks by P. Craig Russell. Two years later, the 68-page sequel Batman: Master of the Future — also written by Augustyn, but with art by Eduardo Barreto — was released, this time officially labelled an Elseworlds publication.

In 2006, in the wake of the DC event Infinite Crisis (which reshuffled the DC Multiverse), the Gotham by Gaslight world was identified as "Earth-19".

Prior to its appearance in Countdown Presents: The Search for Ray Palmer: Gotham by Gaslight (January 2008), the two one-shot issues were collected into one 112-page trade paperback volume (which was released under the same name, and with the same Mignola cover as the one-shot release).

Collected editions[edit]

The two stories have been collected into a trade paperback.

Reception[edit]

IGN Comics ranked Gotham by Gaslight #11 on a list of the 25 greatest Batman graphic novels, saying that the comic is "as taut and well-conceived a graphic novel as you can find — Elseworlds or otherwise," they add, "quite simply, no other Elseworlds tale has managed such a brilliant concept nor executed it so perfectly."

Gotham by Gaslight was not the highest-ranking Elseworlds story on the list, as Batman & Dracula: Red Rain ranked higher at #9.[1]

Spin-offs[edit]

After the events of Identity Crisis, the Atom spent DC's missing year out of the limelight. In the weekly-sequel to the weekly event 52, Countdown, the Source Wall names Palmer as a key figure in impending DC Universe events. The search for Ray Palmer began in the Wildstorm Universe, and soon crossed onto the new 52 worlds created during the course of Infinite Crisis.

The first of these was called Countdown Presents: The Search for Ray Palmer: Gotham by Gaslight (January 2008) and was written by Gotham by Gaslight's original author, Brian Augustyn, relishing his chance to return to the world he had created.[2] The story saw Bob the Monitor accompany Jason Todd, Donna Troy, and Kyle Rayner (the latter three inhabitants of "New Earth") through the multiverse in search of multiuniversal counterparts to Ray Palmer. The group arrived on Earth-19, the Earth where the Batman of the earlier two Elseworlds storylines acted, there, they also encountered this Earth's counterpart of Blue Beetle and Man-Bat before they went to the next Earth for their continuing search. Their search would take them to worlds populated by characters from other Elseworlds stories, including those seen in the Batman & Dracula trilogy (Earth-43) and Superman: Red Son (Earth-30).

In other media[edit]

Film[edit]

Video games[edit]

  • A video game based on the comic book was planned for release by Day 1 Studios (who also developed Fear 3). After THQ failed to secure the rights to the property, the game was canceled.[4] The developers released some concept illustration which revealed the game had a steampunk feel to it while being set in Victorian England and also test footage was released which revealed the misty Gothic settings and the character model for Batman. Reception to the leaked footage and concept illustration was positive, with viewers praising the setting, the cape physics and the different approach the developers were trying to achieve.[5]
  • Season pass holders for Batman: Arkham Origins, released in 2013, were awarded a special costume for Batman that was based on Gotham By Gaslight.[6]
  • The Gotham by Gaslight version of Batman was also introduced as a playable character in an update to the mobile version of Injustice: Gods Among Us in early 2018.[7]

See also[edit]

Other Elseworlds that involve Jack the Ripper:

References[edit]

  1. ^ Yehl, Josuha; Goldstein, Hilary (9 April 2014). "The 25 Greatest Batman Graphic Novels". IGN. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  2. ^ Contino, Jennifer M. (November 12, 2007). "Augustyn by Gaslight! Brian returns to Gotham". ComicCon.com. Archived from the original on March 2, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-03.
  3. ^ Lovett, Jamie (7 August 2017). "DC Animation's Next Movie Revealed". Comic Book.com. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  4. ^ "Gotham By Gaslight Video Shows Canceled Elseworlds Batman Game". February 27, 2012. Retrieved February 27, 2012.
  5. ^ Cummins, Chris (February 29, 2012). "This Gotham by Gaslight Game Looks Great, Doesn't Exist". Toplessrobot.com. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
  6. ^ Sarkar, Samit. "Batman: Arkham Origins season pass available for $19.99". Polygon. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  7. ^ Musgrave, Shawn. "Best iPhone Game Updates: 'Vainglory', 'Marvel Avengers Academy', 'Portal Knights', 'Dashy Crashy', and More". TouchArcade. Retrieved 25 March 2018.

External links[edit]