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Sarah Essen Gordon as seen in Detective Comics #697 (February 1996). Art by Staz Johnson.
|First appearance||Batman #405 (March 1987)|
|Created by||Frank Miller|
|Full name||Sarah Essen Gordon|
|Team affiliations||Gotham City Police Department|
Sarah Essen (a.k.a. Sarah Essen Gordon) is a fictional character in DC Comics.
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. A German descent woman, 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 during her attempts with Gordon to catch the Batman; she guesses (correctly) that he is Bruce Wayne by virtue of Bruce's history and the money needed for Batman's arsenal. She and Gordon, who was married at the time, 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 afterwards.
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, and the two begin a serious relationship, eventually resulting in Gordon's 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).
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 the "No Man's Land" story 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 saying a cold "Merry Christmas." The Joker seems to find no humor in her death, as he is shown frowning as he walks away. He promptly surrenders to the police who arrive immediately afterwards. 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 is tempted to kill the Joker, but instead shoots him in the leg. The Joker is at first enraged by this act, screaming that he will never walk again, but then realizes the humor in it and begins to laugh hysterically because he had done the same thing to Gordon's daughter Barbara (in The Killing Joke). At Sarah's funeral, her stepdaughter Barbara comments, "I always called her Sarah, and now it's too late to call her Mom." 
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.
The Dark Knight Returns
Sarah was an unseen presence in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, an alternate future story. In it, she is Gordon's 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. She also appears when Gordon gives his retirement speech.
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. As shown by the events of The Dark Knight Returns, set in the same continuity, they eventually marry.
In other media
- Essen made her first live action appearance in Gotham, portrayed by Zabryna Guevara. In this version, she is the captain of the Gotham City Police Department Homicide Squad and the boss of James Gordon and Harvey Bullock. At the start of Season 2, she is promoted to commissioner, replacing Gillian B. Loeb. However, she is murdered in the second episode by Jerome Valeska, the leader of a gang of insane criminals calling themselves "The Maniax". Unlike the comic books, Gordon and Essen have no romantic history in the television series and thus their relationship is strictly professional.
- 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)
- Marechal, AJ (February 11, 2014). "Fox's 'Gotham' Casts Classic 'Batman' Characters the Penguin, Alfred Pennyworth". Variety. Los Angeles, California: Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
- "Damned If You Do...". Gotham (TV series). Season 2. September 21, 2015. Fox.
- "Knock, Knock". Gotham (TV series). Season 2. September 29, 2015. Fox.
|GCPD Major Crimes Unit Shift Commander||Succeeded by|
|Gotham City Police Commissioner||Succeeded by|