Batman: Gothic is a classic gang crime novel where Bruce Wayne’s past comes to haunt Gotham.
Batman: Gothic is a 1990 storyline which ran during the Legends of the Dark Knight series. Written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Klaus Jansen it describes a period during some of Bruce Wayne’s early days as Batman where a lesser known event during his childhood comes back to Gotham. It is what I would class as a ‘crime storyline’ where the antagonists are not really supervillians.
Batman: Gothic Review
Bruce Wayne is having nightmares from the past, not a complete surprise there, but it’s not of his parent’s being killed for a ch
ange – it’s from a time in his past he can’t quite get to grips with. What do these nightmares mean? Why is he having them now? Can this be related to the mob members being killed one by one? When you read it you realise yes, probably – in Batman comics nothing is drawn for no reason at all. Or written for that matter. However, during the course of the book you begin to realise that
you, yourself don’t know what’s going on and I was unable to guess either.
Gothic, to me, was a diamond in the rough. I purchased it cheaply from Forbidden Planet brand new for, if I remember right, just £3. It’s fairly short with only 5 issues inside (Legends of the Dark Knight #6-#10). It’s got pretty solid reviews online and I can see why.
The plot line has plenty of intrigue included with Bruce Wayne’s nightmare visions, the mob getting picked off one by one and of course the identity and motives of the lesser know villain Mr. Whisper. During the course of the book Batman: Gothic as the name suggests gets quite dark – a particular section of the book which revisits a version of events from an Austrian monk suggests a series of rapes occurring at a monastery – not your typical storyline in modern day Batman books. Never does it go too far though, the book, although touches on dark subjects does restrain itself and stops short of being so dark that it defines the book.
Gothic goes in and out of the supernatural and towards the end possibly religious, the pac
ing is a slow burner as it accelerates more and more towards the end. In the final couple of chapters the action and thrills really begin to speed up. The ending is well worth the wait. Mr. Whisper is one of the most fascinating characters in all of the books I’ve read despite being written about one of the least. There are ev
en hints that characters had either a direct or indirect on Bruce Wayne’s tragic past – without going into too much detail.
The artwork in Gothic is as you’d expect of a book drawn in 1990 – not bursting with colour and not too much detail in facial expressions and background – did it blow me away? no. Did it fit the storyline? Hell yes. Having started reading Batman books in the late 10’s and having amassed a fair few modern books before going backwards in time to the likes of Gothic I usually cross my fingers that the artwork is somewhat modern but in the case of Gothic I did not care. The storyline was so strong that I was easily able to get over some of the dated drawings.
Batman: Gothic is an absolute gem of a book. The storyline is deep, touches on dark subjects and delivers a plot line which will keep you gripped from start to finish. If you’re after modern artwork in your books or a latecomer to the graphic novel game like me please don’t rob yourself of the experience that Batman: Gotham is.