Hard to believe that we are moving into the THIRD month of Gotham. How things change! When the show was announced, I didn’t care about it and thought it was all a big joke. But then the premiere happened and something fantastic and wonderful began that I haven’t been able to keep my eyes away from. In its first seven weeks, the show set up some really great things and delivered some pretty big moments. And now, it seems the show is moving into its second phase, introducing new plotlines while carrying forward a few of the old ones and continuing to show Gotham’s slow decline into insanity.
The villain in last week’s “The Mask” didn’t really work for me and I said as much in the review. I took far greater pleasure in seeing how previous plot-threads were carried on rather than what happened with the villain. And that’s kind of the thing here as well. There isn’t really one villain in this episode, more like a handful of them with none really getting any actual development. But once again, past plotlines really come to the fore here and in Nicholas D’Agosto, Gotham seems to have found a really, really great Harvey Dent, aka the future Two-Face. Kudos on that front!
In last week’s episode of Gotham, we got to see some really big things happen. There were lots of plot-threads running through the episode that found their genesis in the show’s premier, and it brought things to a nice conclusion, for now. The game board was changed in a major way and the cliffhanger promised more chaos in the future episodes. I loved it. It was the best episode on the show, by far, and I loved that the writers were dedicated to providing game-changing twists. The show has had a somewhat troubled beginning, but it is now settling, and I expect greater things from it.
Which is where this week’s episode, “The Mask” comes in. After the status quo changed last week, this week’s episode is more of a “setting the scene” episode. It goes back to the villain-of-the-week format, but it also moves the story forward and addresses some of the elephants in the room, such as the fact that Fish knows Penguin is now working for Maroni and that the entire precinct abandoned Gordon when Zsasz came for him. The villain this week didn’t do much for me, so my satisfaction this week came from the threads carried over from last week, and seeing how many of the relationships on the show have now changed.
In last month’s Grayson #3 we saw some pretty big things go down for our titular hero, ending in a rather emotional moment that played up the whole aspect of why Batman never carried a gun and why he never trained his sidekicks like Dick Grayson into their use. It was also one of the best issues of this brand-new series from DC, taking place after the events of this year’s Forever Evil event that saw Dick “die” as far as his friends are concerned, all except for Batman. Even as Dick’s own journey continues, we also get to see more of what the shadowy and secretive SPYRAL is up to, and it is not good, not at all.
Since the start, this new series has dabbled in the occasional humour and light-hearted moment while staying primarily serious and intense and focused on whatever the end goal is, which I’d surmise is the taking down of SPYRAL since Dick is working for the organization on behalf of Batman. But in this week’s issue, we see things head in a different direction as Tom King and Tim Seeley tackle something at the heart of who Dick used to be, a poster-boy for fangirls everywhere. It is a great change in pace in the first arc of the series, and Mikel’s art excels as always, to especially great effect.
While the many Bat-books over the last 75 years or so have done much to explore the younger generation of Gotham, we haven’t really seen the more… civilian side of things. The normal kids of Gotham who get caught up in the various mysteries of this city. That’s where last month’s debut Gotham Academy comes in. Written by Brenden Fletcher and Becky Cloonan, this new series looks at a young female lead at a (possibly) haunted boarding school in Gotham, and the slivers of mystery and character offered up in the first issue were good enough for me to come back for more this month.
Gotham Academy #2 continues to explore who Olive Silverlock is and what happened to her in the summer that caused her to forget it all and even led to her having strained relationships with her boyfriend Kyle and his sister Maps. Not to mention the hazing she gets at the school from some of the other characters. This is quite a wonderful teen-oriented book, with actual teen characters no less, and it offers up some interesting stuff about life at the so-called Gotham Academy. The writing is good, if not really excellent, but the art definitely takes the top marks.
Hit the almost-magic number of 35 once again and though I have yet to repeat my personal best of 40, I think this was my best week regardless since I managed to read 31 singles and 4 graphic novels. That definitely counts as an achievement, yes?
My surprise hits for this week would be Tales of Honor #1 from Top Cow, Swamp Thing Annual #3 from DC, Inhuman #7, Death of Wolverine: Deadpool & Captain America #1 and Deathlok #1 all from Marvel. Those that count among this week’s top disappointments would be Conan the Avenger #7 from Dark Horse. Justice League United Annual #1 from DC. Others like Grimm Fairy Tales: Realm War #4 and Grimm Fairy Tales: Robyn Hood #3 from Zenescope, Wayward #3 from Image, The Flash Volume 2 from DC, and a bunch of others were as good as I expected them to be, probably better even.
The graphic novels for this week were Supergirl Volume 4 by Michael Alan Nelson and Diogenes Neves, The Flash Volume 2 by Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul, Krypton Returns by Various and Thanos: The Infinity Revelation by Jim Starlin.
Right in the very first episode of Gotham, we saw some pretty big things happen. The Waynes were murdered. Gordon and Bullock caught the supposed murderer and killed him (though it later turned out that it was a setup). The two came close to losing their lives at the hands of Fish Mooney, one of Gotham’s resident mob bosses, working under Falcone. And Gordon was forced to kill Oswald Cobblepot, or so everyone believed. It was a right ruckus and in the cliffhanger last week, Oswald revealed publicly that he was very much alive, though that does create a lot of problems for Gordon.
Through and through, this week’s “Penguin’s Umbrella” is entirely focused on Gordon as it shows the aftermath of Oswald’s revelation and what it means for the young, unjaded cop as he strives to make a difference in the city. He is a marked man since he went against the orders of Carmine Falcone and everyone is pretty much just waiting for him to drop dead. This episode is pretty much the best episode of the show so far, showing what Gotham can really be like in a lot of ways, and we also see the cameo of a long-standing Batman villain here, who is every bit as creepy as you’d expect him to be. The cliffhanger is pretty damn jaw-dropping as well, and I dare say that Gotham can definitely hold its own against Arrow and The Flash if it continues like this.
A couple weeks back I read my first issue of Secret Origins, an anthology series where each issue is full of the 3 origin tales of various DC superheroes and supervillains. Focusing on Wonder Woman, Deadman and Sinestro, Secret Origins #6 was a really good issue and it made me want to read more of the series. Since there’s no continuity between these various issues, I can pretty much cherry-pick which one I want to read and when, which really helps in that I don’t have to catch up to the backlog of five issues already out in order of chronology or publication.
For this week I went back to August’s issue, Secret Origins #5, which tells the origins of Victor Stone aka Cyborg, Jason Todd aka Red Hood and Mera, the Queen of Atlantis and Aquaman’s wife. While the first story is pretty much a rehash of what happened in Geoff Johns’ first arc of Justice League, it tells of some new details and is decent enough. The second story is rather bland and boring, being little more than a long recap of Jason Todd’s time as Robin and now Red Hood. The third story however, with Mera in her time as the Princess of Xebel, is pretty solid, in both art and writing, and I really enjoyed that one.
One of the subplots running through Gotham so far has been that Gotham City is a city corrupt to the bone and that even the high and mighty Wayne Enterprises might not be so overboard as we’d like to believe. Last week’s episode Viper was ample proof of that, that there may have been certain goings on at the multinational that Thomas and Martha Wayne may not have known about. It was a really great twist to the story, something that I can see leading eventually to Bruce’s transformation into Batman. But of course, the show revolves around Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock as well, and they were pretty good in the previous episode, though the villain was rather unmemorable.
The new episode, “Spirit of the Goat“, is definitely one where the writers have upped the weird and supernatural quotient of the show. Ten years ago Harvey and his then-partner Dix nabbed a serial killer who claimed to be possessed by the spirit of a supernatural entity and who ritually murdered his victims. Now, somehow, the killer is back and Harvey is on the case once again, this time with Jim. One of the best things about this week’s episode was the look at Harvey’s past and the kind of man he was then, setting up a great contrast with who he is now. Nothing really on the Falcone-Maroni silent war this week, but we do get to see Robin Lord Taylor’s Oswald Cobblepot be utterly badass, which was extremely satisfactory.
Truth be told, I don’t have much of an experience with the Catwoman title, apart from a couple issues I read as part of a couple of mini-events at DC. Ann Nocenti’s much-maligned run has put me off quite a bit from checking out her run from the get go, but with some recent changes in Selina’s status quo, particularly the fact that she currently stars in Gotham as her younger self, means that I’m much more interested in Catwoman than I ever was before. I’m generally familiar with her from various animated appearances, but that’s really it. And I think it is great that as of this week Catwoman has a new creative team.
With writer Ann Nocenti moving off to the new series Klarion, Genevieve Valentine is brought in to take the reins of Catwoman and shepherd the titular character to a new phase in her life, where she is no longer Catwoman but is instead Selina Kyle Calabrese, the heir of the Calabrese mob-family, given that her father is its patriarch, Rex Calabrese. Much of this was told in some recent issues of Batman: Eternal, and Valentine takes all of that and just runs with it, delivering a really great story. And the art by Garry Brown and Lee Loughridge is just as exciting as you can expect.
After two rather dreary weeks of reading comics, where I didn’t manage to hit my recent highs of 40 singles/graphic novels a week, this week was much different. I got back on track for one, and moved through three entire volumes of DC’s Earth 2, almost catching up to the current status of the series.
The surprise hits of this week were Blood Queen Annual 2014 from Dynamite Entertainment, Deadpool’s Art of War #1 from Marvel Comics and Trinity of Sin #1 from DC Comics. The comics that disappointed me this week were Wytches #1 from Image Comics and Death of Wolverine: Logan Legacy #1 from Marvel Comics. Of the other titles, the ones that I really loved were recent ongoings like Flash Gordon #6, Unity #0 or even Ms. Marvel #9.
New shows often need to start out strong in order to cement themselves in the viewers’ consciousnesses, and to prove that they indeed have some staying power. Of late, that task has fallen to one of television’s biggest gambles, Gotham, a show about the city of Gotham before Bruce Wayne became Batman, when guys like Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock were still simple detectives or when mob bosses like Sal Maroni and Carmine Falcone were at the top of their game. Fortunately, Gotham has started out fairly strong and seems intent to stay that way, if last week’s episode Arkham is any indication.
In the new week, “Viper” is quite the traditional “new drug on the streets” police procedural episode but it still stands a fairly good episode on its own. It doesn’t quite match the fantasticness of last week’s Arkham, but it still moves the larger story forward while also providing a reference to one of the most iconic Batman villains ever and gives Penguin and Jim both some really great moments together. I’m really getting into the groove of the show now and having a blast as well. This is a very different take on these characters than I’m used to, but that’s exactly why I’m enjoying the show so much, this week’s episode no exception.