Episode 33: How Gordon Became Commissioner and Something about Bats

My reading lists are some of the more interesting texts I can come across. Last week I decided to put my money where my cyber mouth is and I got most of the books that I didn’t already own or could easily. A lot of the books I got on loan from my major Professor during my MA and now I got my own to quote way too much. One of the books that is both awesome and amazing as a serial is Batman:Year One by Frank Miller. Originally published as issues #404-407 of the Batman continuity, it shows what happened from January to December once Bruce Wayne returned to Gotham after years abroad and his journey to become The Goddamn Batman. An important text for both eventual comps and a chapter I have to write about parenting in Batman for a book on Super Heroes and identity. Here are my notes for these aspects. In case you haven’t read it, they did an animated dvd version (very true to the original) which you can find segmented here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1DtlR2TjhA

The first thing you notice is that Bruce Wayne’s story is told parallel to that of James Gordon, at this moment a lieutenant that has just been reassigned to the Gotham City PD. Gordon’s struggles are more relatable and quickly take center stage over the conflicts of young man who actually can be a superhero but is trying to figure out how. The mustache alone makes him more cool than the almost bland looking Bruce Wayne. Gotham itself looks dark and dirty at just about everything that isn’t the Wayne Manor. The fight scenes are well made and both heroes are just amazing ass kickers to anyone who gets in their way. Selena even makes the shift from prostitute to Catwoman , thus showing a lot of backstory. no super villains show up, except for a hint about The Joker poisoning the water supply in the last page. The main conflict comes from gangsters and the very corrupt police force of the city.

Continuity wise, Year One is very interesting when compared to other DC and comic book heroes. Everyone had a reboot that basically stated that nothing that happened before mattered or even exists now within that world, making it a blank slate upon which this new story can be told. A few titles had already done this but everyone had to thanks to the events of Infinite Crisis, wherein all DC continuities had hit the reset button and now there is new stories for everyone. Batman’s story was pretty epic and accepted since the start so nothing drastic changed like making him part alien or something crazy like that. The one clear difference is that this isn’t campy gadget crazy Adam West from the early days, this is the dark “I hate everyone” Frank Miller Batman that focuses on scaring the crap out of villains before beating them to an inch of their lives. Just about everything except for Catwoman originally being a lady of the night, especially Holly, who becomes Catwoman later on, is a 13-year-old prostitute in these installments, is considered canon. The animated version is almost word for word, save for a few internal monologues, to the comic and is pretty cool so check the above link and go through all the parts.

So why is Year One important for issues of paternity? Well one of the big subplots is Gordon coming to grips with being a father. As he enters the city he wishes that “Barbara’s tests are negative” because this city isn’t right for a family. For me it was a weird moment of reading since Barbara is the name of Gordon’s daughter, who will become the first Batgirl and later Oracle, and I thought that it was her college admittance tests or something. I then realized that Barbara is actually his wife and the tests are of the pregnancy variety. Gordon then hopes that he will have a son, young James, who is born by the last issue. Again, strange because he has a daughter, now I am actually wondering what ever happened to the mother and child later on in the comic. Gordon is actually a good dad, you see him help out during one of many 2am feedings only to be called into duty. As a husband and human, well he has some issues but it is the fact that he has responsibilities as a father that the affair he has with Detective Sarah Essen that the relationship does not go too far. Bruce Wayne has his moments as well since he refers specifically to his dad and only his father when he laments that he is not strong enough. You never see him talk to his mom, and Alfred gets very few lines so you don’t see him as the paternal/maternal figure that helps Bruce survive and endure.

Speaking of orphans, get ready because my notes on Oliver Twist is around the corner. Shame he didn’t become an embodiment of vengeance, though a very raspy voice with a British accent saying “I’m Batman” would just be weird.

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