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.
I’ve said this before and I say it again, Image’s Velvet keeps getting better with every issue almost without fail. Against all my expectations, this title has gotten better and better with time, and both the writing and the art have been the cause of that from the start. Velvet Templeton is a fantastic superspy who is so much better than any superspy in pop culture. This series has drama and action in equal measure while still maintaining he noir vibe that is at the heart of the series. Recently, she has taken some really drastic measures, and it is time for them to pay off now.
In this past week’s Velvet #8, we see what happens after Velvet kidnaps the Director of ARC-7, the spy organisation she was a part of until she seemingly went rogue back in the first issue. Ever since finding out abou the very recent death of an ARC-7 agent, she has been a woman on a mission, retracing his steps and also going back in time as she discovers some secrets about her own past and her field service for ARC-7. In the new issue, Ed Brubaker really ramps things up while Steve Epting and Elizabeth Breitweiser deliver some gorgeous visuals.
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.
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.
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.
After a slight introductory stumble, Gotham has really started to find its footing and has been developing into a show that I could really get to love and enjoy week after week. And much as the showrunners announced at first that the show was going to follow Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock as they tried to clean up Gotham City, the show has been developing instead into the rise of Oswald Cobblepot as a major villain and ganglord. But that doesn’t mean that the other characters are getting the short shrift, because the cast assembled for the show really is incredible, especially as of last week’s episode.
This week’s episode, “Arkham” finally gets around to dealing with one of Gotham’s most infamous landmarks, the Arkham Asylum. Since it is still very early days and the costumed freaks have yet to make an appearance, AA at this time is just a mental health treatment facility rather than a supervillain prison. Cobblepot’s earlier pronouncements to Gordon about a war coming to Gotham take root in this episode, which I would consider a big step-up for the series, with some great character development across the board and also the rising stakes by the end of the episode.
Two weeks into Fox’s Gotham, the latest comics-based show on air, and I think that things are going great for comics fans everywhere. This is the big year for comics properties, what with old shows coming back for new seasons and new shows getting off one after anoher. Gotham is the lone charger at the moment since DC’s The Flash starts later tonight, and the publisher’s next big project Constantine not getting on until the end of the month. In the first couple episodes, we’ve seen some big things happening on Gotham and the show is almost tone-perfect, with some great casting and also some interesting mysteries at the heart of future-Batman’s city.
The new episode sees a vigilante make his appearance on the show for the first time. In the first episode we saw the murder of the Waynes, and then in the second we witnessed a child-kidnapping ring. Now, we see not a villain, but someone who wants to clean up the city in a rough way, outside of the law and order. “Balloon Man” really ups the tension between various characters, as Fish’s silent war against Don Falcone continues, as Renee Montoya keeps gunning for James Gordon, as Don Maroni starts making moves on Don Falcone, and as Alfred starts to teach a young Bruce about some basic swordplay. Fun and exciting, more than I’d thought possible.
When I started watching Leverage last year, one thing that stuck out at me was the motivation behind former insurance investigator Nathan Ford turns to a life of confidence games: he couldn’t find a proper cure for his dying son in time to make a difference and was effectively betrayed by his own company in that regard. It was a rather important emotional event in the character’s history and made me love the character. It has stuck with me all this time, and now it looks like I’ll be getting to see something similar in comics, thanks to writers Christina Blanch and Chris Carr.
The Damnation of Charlie Wormwood is the latest series from Dynamite, and it explores a similar setup to Nathan Ford in Leverage. Charlie is struggling to make ends meet as a prison English teacher while his son suffers in the hospital, and his marriage to his wife also suffers. Christina and Chris write a story of temptation and the road to hell that really drags down Charlie Wormwood. It is a beautifully written story about an everyday man’s struggles, and the art by Chee and Troy Peteri is similarly impressive, creating a very appropriate creepy and dark vibe.
It has been clear since the start of the new Vampirella that creators Nancy A. Collins and Patrick Berkenkotter have had a strong direction for the series, as evidenced by the number and type of challenges that the titular character has faced. She is racing against the clock to find a cure for a curse that will see her eventually turn into Lady Umbra, Bride of the Apocalypse, and her world tour has led her to face up against all kinds of rare and powerful Vampires. As we close in on the end of the first arc, one of the key things is that the ending of it be a fitting one, given the epicness of the arc so far.
And if Vampirella #5 is any indication, then the arc is going to end on a high note. Having taken down the Krasue and the Lamira already, Vampirella travels to Serbia to face off against another of Lilith’s half-breeds, and then on to Kauzstadt to face off against a powerful foe, someone that I’ve been expecting for the last couple issues now. Nancy’s writing here is as strong as ever, though I felt that matters with the Leptirica were resolved too quickly, and Patrick’s art stands out once again because of his creature designs, which were just amazing here.
Last week Fox debuted Gotham, a gritty noir-ish procedural set in the years before Bruce Wayne became the vigilante known as Batman, back when Carmine Falcone still ran the city’s mobs and when both Harvey Bullock and James Gordon were still young. The series premiere was a very entertaining and exciting experience, better than I’d expected it to be and it certainly made me want to come back for more, if only because I wanted to see more of certain characters and because the setup came off as fairly well-executed for a show like this.
This week’s episode, titled “Selina Kyle” was meant to focus on the future Catwoman. In the premiere, we saw that she was a witness to the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne, thus creating an ephemeral bond between her and Bruce and at the end we saw that she came to Wayne Manor for… something. I was kind of excited for this week’s episode because I wanted to see how executive producer and series writer Bruno Heller would deal with the future master thief. And I’m disappointed on that front. The episode is more caught up with the ensemble cast than focusing on Selina, but at least it presents some really fun and quirky villains while also developing the overall story of the show.
The sequel to Adam Christopher’s 2012 debut Empire State didn’t arrive until much later in 2013, and it was a rather frustrating wait since I really liked the first novel and wanted more of the same from someone I considered to be among the best debut writers of 2012. But unfortunately, The Atomic Age seemed to exemplify the faults and negatives of Empire State far more it did the good things. The difference between the two is a phenomenal one for me and I was extremely disappointed by it.
This review is a repost of the original review on The Founding Fields, which can be found here.