Gotham season 3 is nearly here, so we’re looking back at our guide to all of the Batman and DC Comics references from season two! As usual, this show wasn’t remotely shy about its DC Comics history this time around.
One thing to note: Any characters who were introduced in season one probably had their DC roots handled in the “Gotham Central” portions of our season one reviews, so we’re not going to repeat them here. One day we’ll get around to aggregating all of that into one mega guide. But today is not that day. Tomorrow probably isn’t that day, either.
Click the blue episode title links to be taken to full reviews of each episode, and hit the drop down menu at the end of each entry to go to the next one!
– The Gotham producers are adamant that Thomas Wayne’s man-cave isn’t the Batcave, but we all know the truth. It’s the Batcave. Well, it will be the Batcave.
Even as low tech as this proto-batcave appears, it’s still miles ahead of the first live action version, which appeared in chapter two of the extraordinarily bad (and horrifically racist) 1943 Batman movie serial. To be honest, that’s probably the first full blown Batcave appearance full stop, although in that cinematic classic they called it “The Bat’s Cave,” which lacks a certain zing, don’t you think?
– This has absolutely nothing to do with anything related to DC Comics, but the use of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” was a nice surprise in this episode. It comes from the album Transformer, which is really essential listening in any case, but that’s an album that deals with all manner of identity issues, mental illness, and assorted depravity. In other words, it’s perfect for Batman’s world, even in a pre-Batman world.
– The big guy that Barbara befriends is Aaron Helzinger, known in the comics as Amygdala. Amygdala has been around since 1992, generally giving Batman agita with his great strength and low intellect. We thought we had met Amygdala in season one, but we were wrong. By “we” I mean “me,” and possibly “you.”
The other guys in Barbara and Joker’s little gang of maniacs aren’t from the comics, so don’t worry about them.
– Commissioner Loeb did indeed resign in the comics, although it was in more of a “public disgrace” kind of way after his corruption became widely known.
– Theo Galavan doesn’t have any obvious DC Comics parallels, but there are rumblings that he’s actually someone important using an alias. Speculate away as to who that might be. He could be Ra’s al Ghul (which is just dumb enough that this show might attempt it), or he could be someone with deep ties to the Court of Owls. We’ll find out eventually.
– This show’s version of the Tigress (as Tabitha Galavan) is essentially an original creation. I can’t really think of any prominent similarities she shares with her comic book counterparts.
For the record, though, the original Tigress first appeared in Action Comics #1 in 1938. Yes, that’s right…the same comic that introduced Superman and is pretty much the reason we have hundreds of websites like this one that can talk about superhero movies and TV shows all day long. She didn’t fight Superman there.
There have been other Tigresses (Tigri?) throughout DC history, but it would take an entire article to deal with them. All you need to know right now is…don’t worry about it. This is a new character.
Hit the drop down menu for future episodes!
– Yes, the Gotham Gazette is “real.” It’s not as well known as the Gotham Globe, which famously employed award winning photographer Vicki Vale and spectactularly irritating reporter Alexander Knox in Tim Burton’s first Batman movie. DC Comics has also used the Gotham Gazette for various viral marketing bits and pieces here and there.
– It was politely pointed out to me in the comments that not only did Sarah Essen also briefly attain the rank of Commissioner in the comics, she was also murdered by the Joker. The circumstances were rather different, and it’s a shame that Gotham chose to do away with its only not completely insulting female character so early on, but that’s life in the big city.
– Edward Nygma is certainly on his way to supervillainy here. I’m not overly fond of the way they’re handling his mental illness, especially since the comic book Riddler was always less “mentally ill” than some other Batman villains. It was traditionally more “genius level intellect with severe OCD” than the split personality on display here.
On the other hand, I rather like Cory Michael Smith’s “Riddler reflection” being more calm, cool, collected ultra-criminal type. If that’s the Riddler we’re ultimately going to get, I might just be on board.
– Theo Galavan’s talk about his family’s connection to Gotham City sounds more and more like he’s a member of the Court of Owls, the secret society who has quietly ruled Gotham from the shadows with money and political influence.
Or he could be a really dumb version of Ra’s al Ghul. I’m hoping it’s the former, though.
– Jerome’s knockout gas trick with Gordon and Bullock foreshadows the Joker’s love of chemical weapons. Of course, this probably isn’t foreshadowing after all.
– Deputy Mayor Harrison Kane is probably a nod to Bob Kane, the artist who co-created Batman.
– The joke about Bruce having “a split personality” is…oh, for crying out loud, do I really have to explain this?
– Penguin’s aside about “perhaps I could use a new laugh” is probably the most clever Bat-reference the series has done this season.
Original live action Penguin Burgess Meredith imbued his Penguin performance with a raspy “waugh-waugh” laugh that seemed more appropriate for a duck than a penguin, but whatever. He used it to cover up the cough brought on by the Penguin’s always lit cigarette in its jaunty holder.
– The strange, almost supernatural influence that Jerome seems to have over certain elements of Gotham City in that ending calls to mind some of the more far-reaching implications of recent Joker comic book appearances. We have more on that right here if you feel like digging deeper.
There wasn’t very much in the way of DC Comics references this weekend, but there’s one pretty big one…
– Silver St. Cloud first appeared in Detective Comics #470 by Steve Englehart and Mike Gold. If you’re looking for a truly excellent collection of Batman stories that tends to get overlooked in the noise, check out Strange Apparitions, which collects a bunch of Englehart’s Batman stories, many with some really stunning Marshall Rogers artwork.
– Also, I just have to give them points for busting out Louis Prima’s “Just a Gigolo.”
– It seems that Officer Mac of Gordon’s Strikeforce is based off Gotham Central regular Josie Mac. While the Mac on Gotham reminds one of Hooks from Police Academy fame, Josie Mac was a Gotham Central mainstay whose father was killed by Two Face.
Unlike most members of the GCPD, the comic book version of Josie Mac had precognitive abilities. Comic book Mac had the ability to “read” objects so she almost literally had conversations with crime scenes. TV’s Mac has not shown signs of these strange abilities nor will she I’m guessing as Gotham seems to have an anti-powers thing going but Josie Mac hasn’t appeared in the New 52 DCU yet so it’s nice to see her legacy survive on TV. Mac was created by Judd Winick and Cliff Chiang and first appearanced in the pages of Detective Comics #763 (December, 2001).
– There have been a number of arsonists that used the name Firefly stretching back to just after the Golden Age. The first Firefly appeared in Detective Comics #184 (June 1952) and was created by France Herron and Dick Sprang. Firefly has always been portrayed as a brutal firebug although his more insane, fire obsessed tendencies went on full display in the more modern age.
There was also a Firefly on Arrow. Arrow‘s Firefly was Garfield Lyons, based on the second Firefly to fight Batman in the pages of DC Comics. Despite the gender difference of the characters, the Gotham version of Firefly’s uniform is more consistent with the comic and might be the coolest looking villain Gotham has utilized yet.
– The origin of the Galavan family is pretty close to the origin of the Court of Owls. While some of the bells and whistles of the Gotham Court are different, both TV and comic book Court’s motivations all stem back to a feud with the Waynes. This is all assuming it is the Court of Owls that Galavan is leading, but who the hell else could it be?
Galavan promised the arrival of an army loyal to him. Could that be the Talons, the Court of Owls enhanced foot soldiers introduced in the comics a few years back?
– It seemed like these past two episodes really wanted to pay tribute to the two most famous arsonists in Batman lore. Obviously, Bridgit Pike was supposed to be the inspiration of the future Firefly, but Pike was also referred to as Firebug a number of times these past two weeks.
The first Firebug appeared in Batman #318 (1979) and was created by Len Wein. That Firebug was named Joe Rigger, a former soldier and demolitions expert who lost three family members to three different building accidents caused by shoddy maintenance. Rigger vowed to destroy all the unsafe tenements in Gotham and became Firebug. Like Pike, Rigger was a tragic villain, a victim of Gotham City’s corruption, but that’s where the parallels between the two fire starters end.
– This week marked the first Catwoman style robbery for Selina Kyle. Yeah, she’s been a sneak thief, a pickpocket, and a Dickensian street rat, but her co-robbery of that weird sex slave auction was her first Robin Hood-esque rob from the rich and give to the poor classic Catwoman job.
The episode also showed Selina as a protector of the street kids of Gotham City. In the pages of the comics, Selena has long been a crusader for the motley and discarded; especially young street girls, and “By Fire” did a good job inserting her into that role.
– When Edward Nygma committed his shocking act this week, there sure was a vibrant light green glow at his window, a nice little tonal foreshadowing of the Riddler’s future uniform. I was really hoping for a nice Frank Gorshin cackle once the deed was done, though.
– In this episode, Gotham‘s version of Silver St. Cloud considerably diverged from her comic book counterpart. Gotham‘s St. Cloud was rather catty (pun fully intended) to Selina Kyle and seemed to have some very ill intent towards Bruce Wayne.
The comic book Silver was a very innocent and morally upright woman who was incredibly pure and acted as a beacon of hope to Batman. In fact, when Silver broke up with Bruce Wayne it actually made him question his heroic identity, a far cry from the Silver St. Cloud we saw in “Mommy’s Little Monster.”
– Although it went down much differently in the comic, the death of the Penguin’s mother has always been a driving force behind the origins of Oswald Cobblepot.
– Harvey Dent made his return to Gotham in this episode and we are still waiting for the future Two Face to do anything of note on this series.
– Of course, the big doings in “Mommy’s Little Monster” had to do with Edward Nygma. This episode, we got to see the first Riddler clue envelope complete with question mark and I’m not going to lie, the sight of that little piece of paper made me cheer a little inside. We also got to hear Cory Michael Smith channel his inner Frank Gorshin by unleashing his first Riddler cackle. It was glorious.
– It was very cool to see Bruce Wayne pondering the important issue of whether to sell Wayne Enterprises to Theo Galavan while brooding in the Batcave. Perhaps that was the first of many quality broods that Bruce will have in that iconic locale.
– Edward Nygma committed his second murder while burying the body of his ex. Didja notice those Riddler green booties Eddie was rocking? A very nice touch.
The interrogation scene with Barbara and Jim Gordon totally was framed like the famous Joker interrogation scene in The Dark Knight. Of course Heath Ledger and Christian Bale didn’t make out in that famous scene nor did the Joker get all weepy. Let’s all be honest, this scene was silly.
– This episode marked perhaps the first official team up of the Penguin and the Riddler. That has to be notable, right?
– Watching Oswald Cobblepot and Edward Nygma’s bromance in the woods was truly a dark delight but it was also the first live action team-up (kinda) of these buddies in villainy since Frank Gorshin’s Riddler joined forces with Burgess Meredith’s Penguin in the Batman ’66 film.
This time, the two iconic villains spent all their time bonding over mommy issues and murder, but sadly, there was no discussion of reducing world leaders to dehydrated dust. And if you don’t get that reference, you need to watch the Adam West movie.
– Flamingo, who was like a really scary version of Freddy Mercury, is a recent addition to Batman’s comic book rogues gallery. First appearing in Batman #666 (2007), Flamingo was created by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely.
Like his TV counterpart, Flamingo was a cannibal and an assassin. In his first appearance, Flamingo went against Dick Grayson during the time period where the former Robin donned the mantle of the Batman. Flamingo has also made the transition into the New 52, appearing a number of times in Arkham Asylum crowd scenes. He also joined the Secret Society of Super Villains in the pages of Forever Evil. This was the villain’s live action debut which kind of seems unfair to villains like Killer Moth and the Cavalier, who have been waiting decades for a little TV or movie love. Won’t anyone think of Doctor Double X?
I guess we’ll soon find out if those hooded dudes that popped up in this week’s final scene are the Order of Saint Dumas, the Court of Owls, or a combination of both. Whatever the case, the seem to get their fashion sense from Kylo Ren.
– In the comics, the Order of Saint Dumas was a templar organization that stretched back to the Crusades. The organization was first mentioned in Batman: Sword of Azrael #1 (1992) and was created by Bat legend Denny O’Neil. The organization was made up of religious extremists who followed the brutal example of Saint Dumas, a violent knight and religious fanatic.
When the Order was first introduced, fans met a splinter group that broke from the Order and trained their own champion, a warrior named Azrael. Fans of the turbulent ’90s will remember Azrael as the hero who replaced Bruce Wayne as Batman in the classic Knightfall storyline. In the comics, there was no invasion of Gotham and no Galavan but the modern order of Templar Knights thing runs pretty parallel to what was portrayed on Gotham this week. And as cool as it was to have Gotham foreshadow the coming of Azrael and tease Knightfall, I totally was hoping Galavan would be the head of the Court of Owls.
– When Silver St. Cloud confessed that the man who killed the Waynes was named M. Malone, that name should have rung a bell for longtime Batman fans because M. Malone is the name used by Bruce Wayne in his THIRD identity.
Third, you ask? Why, yes.
When Batman, needs to go undercover in the Gotham City underworld, he disguises himself as a hip street hustler named Matches Malone. Batman has used the Matches Malone identity for decades now and it is pretty cool that Gotham posits that the name came from Silver’s confession.
– I don’t know about the rest of you, but I would watch the shit out of a Riddler and Penguin as wacky roommates sitcom. That’s black comedy gold right there.
The same goes for a show or comic series dealing with Alfred Pennyworth during his soldiering days. How brilliant was it to see Alfred in action this week? I would kill for a period piece Alfred Pennyworth series in the vein of Marvel’s Agent Carter.
Alfred Pennyworth: Servant of Justice. Get on it, DC.
– Well, the Order of Saint Dumas kind of went out like a bunch of punks, huh? A few cops, a few gangsters and the ancient order of templar folded like a bunch of origami swans. I guess the Order upped their training methods by the time they trained Azrael.
– With all this tomfoolery between Bruce and Silver St. Cloud, I guess those classic ’70s Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers comics that introduced Silver can’t take place in the Gotham continuity. I don’t think there’s any way Bruce and Silver could get engaged now.
– So, Bruce’s favorite animal is an owl. That makes the Court of the Owls that much more ironic. And seriously, I would have bet my Batman Mego doll that Galavan and company were going to be the Court of the Owls and not the Order of St.Dumas.
– Nygma’s little Riddle to Lee sure had the name Grundy in it, huh? Solomon Grundy is a classic creature feature I wouldn’t mind seeing pop up in Gotham.
– We had our first mention of Dr. Hugo Strange at the end of this episode. Strange is one of the first recurring villains Batman ever faced, predating both the Joker and Catwoman. We will get into the history of this early Batman rogue when he fully appears but for now, let’s just say, Strange is a classic mad scientist type, a master of terror and psychology who has a penchant for very disturbing medical experiments. Picture Freud meets Mengele and you have an idea what to expect from Hugo Strange.
The lab that Theo Galavan was brought to gives new fans an idea of the medical horrors that Strange is capable of. Hmm, come to think of it, Galavan being genetically enhanced? Perhaps the first Azrael?
Our villain of the hour Mister Freeze first appeared in Batman #121 (February 1959) and was created by Bob Kane, David Wood, Sheldon Moldoff, and Logan Sowadski. And when I say he was created by Bob Kane, I mean that ascot wearing amoral phony ostrich had absolutely nothing to do with it at all.
Freeze was originally called Mr. Zero and was pretty generic. The freeze gun wielding scientist would have been forgotten if not for the 1966 Batman TV series. Looking for new villains beyond the Joker, Penguin, Catwoman, and Riddler, the producers of the camp classic took a deep dive into Bat history and came up with Mister Zero. Of course, three separate actors portrayed Mister Freeze as the classic TV series dubbed him in three separate seasons but in the comics, the villain went almost unutilized form the ’60s to the ’90s.
Yeah, DC changed Mister Zero’s name to the more familiar sobriquet of Freeze in Detective Comics #373 (March 1968) but his appearances were few and far between. That is until Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, and the fine folks behind Batman: The Animated Series got a hold of the Dark Knight’s coldest rogue. The origin you saw on Gotham was in line with the Animated Series origin as Dini and Tomm introduced Nora Fries, the tragic wife of Victor. In the cartoon, Victor’s motivation was to find a cure for his wife so now, instead of being a cold themed crook, Freeze was a master villain driven by love and vengeance. It was positively Shakespearean, only with freeze rays. This added wrinkle transformed Freeze into one of Batman’s most tragic villains. The comic followed suit and Mister Freeze soon went from the scrap heap to the A list. We never got to see the pre-cryo suit version of Freeze before so this episode broke some new ground. It heavily handedly broke that ground but it was new ground nonetheless.
Now we’re going to hit the way back machine and introduce Hugo Strange, one of Batman’s oldest foes. We’re talking before America entered World War II old here. Strange first appeared Detective Comics #36 (February 1940) and was created by Bill Finger and Bill Finger. That giant intestinal parasite Bob Kane is still listed as a co-creator, but it was Bill Finger.
Now get a load of these early schemes of comics’ first Dr. Strange. First, Strange built a fog machine in order to allow crooks cover to rob banks and in his second appearance, Strange manipulates the pituitary glands of five career criminals and transforms them into fifteen foot zombies! I bet we get some of that pituitary business on future episodes of Gotham.
Hugo Strange would be brought back in the ’70s where he became a persistent member of Batman’s rogues gallery. For a villain that has been around since the earliest days of the ’40s, it’s amazing that this week’s Gotham featured Strange’s first live action appearance. And by god, how freakin’ perfect was B.D. Wong in this role?
We got a little namedrop of Firefly herself Bridgit Pike, so I guess we will soon see a return of Gotham’s most feared arsonist.
– It is very cool to see Ace Chemicals play a role in Gotham. For those not in the know, Ace Chemicals was where a normal, average, every day crook took a plunge off a catwalk and was transformed into the Joker. No one is ever going to fault Gotham for its production values and today’s episode really went above and beyond with the design of Ace. It looked exactly like the Ace Chemicals featured in the 1989 Batman film (where it was known as Axis Chemicals). A nice little touch to a classic.
– Even though the character existed for decades, Mister Freeze’s origin was first told in the early ’90s in one of the earliest episodes of Batman: The Animated Series. Since then, Nora Fries was always a part of the villain’s tragic past, but it has been a very rare occasion when fans have gotten to see an appearance of a living Nora. It was very good to see Nora as a character this week rather than just a plot point. I really dug the way she made choices that led to her own fate rather than just being a tragic cipher.
– I freakin’ loved the design of Mister Freeze’s battle suit. It had a certain charming Silver Age clunkiness to it that reminded me of a movie serial. It still looked good in action despite it looking like a prop from a Buster Crabbe short.
– The transformed Freeze really, really looked like the Eli Wallach version of the character didn’t he? Wallach was the third of three actors that played the cold hearted villain in the 1966 Batman TV series. In fact, Freeze’s cryo-cell really looked like the freeze chamber that the villain was confined to in the 60s version of Batman.
– We covered the Bruce Wayne Matches Malone connection in past footnotes columns. But it seems like Malone will play a much larger role in Bruce’s life. Could it be that Bruce will adopt the Matches Malone persona in the future to remind himself never to kill?
– Anyone wondering if Lee Thompkins is pregnant with Barbara Gordon the future Batgirl? And if she is, why would they name the child Barbara?!?!?
– Including the Mutants on Gotham was a nice touch, huh? Of course, the Mutants were a vicious street gang that ran rampant in Frank Miller’s classic Dark Knight Returns. There was a certain irony of having Cupcake, the Mutants’ leader, be a person of color as Miller’s Mutants were all white supremacists decked out in Nazi symbols. I guess the Mutants will evolve over the decades from a multi-cultural Bum Fights riff into a high-tech, ultra violent street gang with shark teeth and Swastika pasties.
– Hugo Strange using the Crane Formula in his experiments on Penguin was apropos this week as Strange and Scarecrow have always had many commonalties. Both are experts into the human mind that use fear inducing toxins to manipulate their victims. Both villains also stretch back to Batman’s earliest history with Strange debuting in the late ’30s with Crane debuting in ’41.
I was kind of hoping that Strange’s inclusion would lead to the return of the young Crane as the future Scarecrow got short shirft last season.
– The whole bit with the gun reminded me of Batman Begins when Bruce goes to kill Joe Chill only to be pummeled by Rachel Dawes. In Gotham, a younger Bruce had to learn his own lessons about murder.
– I dig the fact that Bruce will adopt the Marches Malone identity in the future. It’s like the lesson that Bruce learned in that seedy apartment will still be with him in his heyday as Batman and the Matches identity will serve as a reminder of that lesson.
– The female Joker and her punk club reminded me of the Jokerz from Batman Beyond. Of course, the female clown, Jeri by name, was played by Tank Girl herself, Lori Petty and man, how awesome would Petty have been as Harley Quinn twenty years ago?
– We saw the debut of the Riddler’s signature green question mark in this episode. That little symbol would look good on a sports coat or a bowler hat, no?
– Well, the Riddler is certainly becoming quite the clotheshorse. I dig the idea that the more corrupt Nygma becomes, the more he starts wearing his classic duds. I need to see a jello green bowler hat at some point though.
– The Penguin’s father is, of course, played by the great Paul Reubens. The actor best known for his work as Pee Wee Herman also played the Penguin’s father in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns. Reubens had much more screen time as the Penguin’s pop on Gotham and he really classed up the joint, didn’t he?
– It was nice to see the future Poison Ivy back this week. Maybe one day the series will actually, you know, do something with her.
– It wasn’t an oversized prop, but that Riddler’s bomb used at the beginning of the episode kind of reminded me of an old school Dick Sprang gimmick. From those not in the know, Sprang was one of the all time great Batman artists and was famous for drzwig oversized, exaggerated props in his stories.
Ten cool points if Gotham figures out a way to incorporate an oversized typewriter into an episode.
– These past few episodes have slowly added to the origin of the Penguin. While the whole jealous step family bit is new, there have been a number of different Penguin origins over the years in the pages of DC Comics.
One of the most notable, “The Killing Peck” appeared in Secret Origins Special #1 (1989). This Alan Grant written and Sam Keith drawn tale reveals that the Penguin was once a bullied youth obsessed with books and umbrellas. In this story, a bully named Sharkey pushes Oswald Cobblepot to the breaking point. Sharkey gives Oswald the Penguin name and mercilessly brutalizes the shy, pudgy youth. It got so bad that Oswald began training himself in martial arts. When Oswald finally fought back, Sharkey killed all of Penguin’s birds. The Secret Origins tales related Penguin’s brutal revenge.
That was the Penguin’s first true origin tale but a few aspects have been added over the years including a doting mother who always forced her dear Oswald to carry an umbrella. As I said, the origin currently being unfurled in Gotham is completely new.
While we’re discussing Secret Origins Special #1 (1989), it is worth mentioning that the same issue contains a Riddler origin written by Neil Gaiman and drawn by Bernie Mireault. Betcha didn’t know Gaiman write a Riddler tale, didja? That should be of particular interest to any Gotham fan currently enjoying Edward Nygma’s descent into madness.
– We also get the Secret Origin of Penguin’s monocle tonight as the eye piece is subtlety incorporated into Papa Penguin’s wardrobe. Does Oswald inherit his trademark monocle along with the estate?
– So Lee left Jim and lost the baby. Do you suppose that is all a ruse and that Lee secretly raised the child away from the madness of Gordon’s life? Could that child grow up to be the future Batgirl and if so, why the heck would Lee name the child Barbara? Am I grasping at straws here?
– So I get Gotham is trying to execute a kind of Tim Burton riff with the Penguin’s new step family, but what was with the Wee Willy Winkle nightdress and cap on Penguin’s father? Who dresses like that?
– Didja notice that the further Edward Nygma goes down the crazy rabbit hole, the more flamboyant his wardrobe becomes? Like in this week’s episode, Edward dons a nice patterned sport coat. Now, it wasn’t question marks, and it was red instead of green, but that fashion choice sure is moving Nygma towards his loud fashion destiny.
– Speaking of wardrobes, the loving stitch Bruce Wayne sewed into Selena Kyle’s leather jacket is very reminiscent of the stitched together costume Catwoman wore in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns. With all due respect to decades of Batman artists, the Batman Returns Catwoman remains probably the most visually compelling version of the character too date. And since Camren Bicondova is the spitting image of a young Michelle Pfeiffer, I was happy to see the Burton Catwoman costume purr-fectly evoked in this episode.
– Now, there was a whole passel of problems with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but Ben Affleck and the world of Gotham wasn’t one of them. Which brings up the fact that I am now dying to see a solo Bat film starring Affleck, and how great would it be to see old Ben going up against Cory Michael Smith’s Riddler. Because whatever problems you might find with Gotham, Smith’s version of the Riddler is just note perfect.
– I guess this week saw Nygma’s first incarceration into Arkham Asylum. We get to see some of Nygma’s future prison mates, which brings up the point, could Gotham become more insensitive to the mentally ill? I mean, every time there is a crowd scene in Arkham, the camera pans over twitchy, wild haired, maniacs. We get it, it’s Arkham, but c’mon Gotham, you can do better than that.
– So what made the Penguin’s wicked stepmother think it was a good idea to bring a known violent felon into her house as a servant? After killing his father? Stretching the bounds of credibility aside, who doesn’t like a good cannibal revenge scene?
– Seeing Alfred, Lucius Fox, and a turtleneck wearing Bruce Wayne working diligently in the Batcave foreshadows so many great Bat moments. Excluding Gordon, that’s pretty much Team Batman, right there.
– Having a girl with a talon hand help Bruce solve the murder of his parents is kind of random, but establishing Pinewood Farms as a place that specializes in genetic manipulation can be a precursor to such character as Killer Croc, Man-Bat, or any of the anthropomorphic animal foes Batman has faced over the years.
– I really dig Mister Freeze’s battle armor, but that hair has got to go. The armor is badass, but the hairdo makes Freeze look like an albino Anderson Cooper.
– Wow, that’s a bold move having Freeze kill Karen Jennings, the aforementioned talon hand girl. Having Freeze murder someone a young Bruce Wayne cares about certainly puts a personal edge on that future Bat rivalry.
– Another nice touch and a little nod to the classic Paul Dini/ Bruce Timm Batman: The Animated Series episode “Heart of Ice” this week. Karen Jennings’ music box harkens back to the musical snow globe that meant so much to the animated Mister Freeze, a snow globe that once belonged to his beloved Nora.
– In case you’re wondering, no, Hugo Strange never had anything to do with the Wayne murders, but considering that Strange is Batman’s earliest name foe, I kind of don’t hate the notion.
– Yes, Theo Galavan over dramatically screamed the word Azrael. We will cover that character next episode when Galavan suits up, but for now, I will say that while Azrael is a major part of the Bat mythos (let’s face it, Knightfall was a very big deal back in the ’90s), it’s still kind of odd to include the Azrael mythos in a show that focuses on the core and iconic elements of the Bat Universe. Like, Azreal is important, but not Penguin, Riddler, Catwoman level importance. Once again, there has never been an established connection between Azrael or Hugo Strange.
– Did ya’ll catch that cool but of Joker graffiti in the background of Mister Freeze’s dramatic reveal? The legend of Jerome grows.
– The episode’s title references Pinewood Studios, where Tim Burton’s first Batman movie was filmed. The Gotham City set built at Pinewood was one of the largest in movie history.
Azrael first appeared in Batman: Sword of Azrael #1 (October 1992) and was created by the mindblowing creative team of Denny O’Neil and Joe Quesada. The first Azrael was really Jean Paul Valley, a grad student unaware he had been preprogrammed by a quasi-religious super cult to be a deadly assassin. After Jean Paul’s father’s death, the programming asserted itself and Valley became Azrael. Batman helped Azrael break his programming and takes the young man on as an apprentice.
All children of ’90s comics love know what happens next. In the famous Knightfall storyline, Batman’s back is broken by Bane and Azrael becomes the new Batman. It was all armor and claws and spikes and big guns as the Azbats became the most ’90s thing to happen to the ’90s. In all seriousness, Knightfall was a hugely popular storyline making Azrael an indelible part of Bat lore. Of course, Bruce Wayne healed up and took the mantle of the Bat back. At this time, Valley retook the mantle of Azrael and starred in a long running series written by Denny O’Neil.
The Azrael series was always a combination of Templar inspired history combined with contemporary super heroics, and Azrael comfortably fit into his own little strange corner of the DC Universe. None of the elements used in the ascension of Theo Galavan as Azrael ever appeared in a comic. Sure, Gotham used the Order of St. Dumas, but all this is just in name only as the episode really felt like it was making fun of the Azrael origin. Now, Azrael isn’t exactly a sacrosanct character, but one has to wonder, why use the name if the series is just going to make fun of it all?
One thing is for sure, the costume that TV Azrael wears kicks all sorts of ass and really does look like a Joe Quesada drawing come to life.
I must admit I did like young Bruce Wayne becoming inspired by watching a caped Azrael do his thing on the Gotham rooftops. Kind of a weird synergy going on as a young Bruce is inspired to become Batman by a character who, in the comics, once replaced Batman. Weird but cool dynamic there.
– Edward Nygma’s ego was on full display as he seems more annoyed that James Gordon defeated him than put out by being locked up in Arkham. This pretty much defines the Riddler, a villain whose ego won’t let him lose.
– I found it odd that of all the Bat mythos, Gotham would explore Azrael. I mean, it was important in the ’90s and all, but Azrael doesn’t hold that same iconic weight as some of the other villains and concepts explored on Gotham. Well, with this episode, I understand why this is a side road Gotham drives down. Azrael was brought in simply so the Penguin can blow him up with a bazooka. I guess the brain trust of Gotham really doesn’t like the ’90s?
All that being said, the show really does open the door for Azrael proper. Gotham established that the Azrael persona is sort of a program that activates the chosen of the Order of St. Dumas. That’s exactly what happened to the comic book Azrael, Jean Paul Valley. Ignominious death of Galavan aside, the series does honor the Azrael lore established in the comics.
– I like how Hugo Strange, a villain introduced in the earliest days of Batman’s publishing history is really the first master criminal that a very young Bruce Wayne becomes aware of.
– I love me some classic gentlemen’s gentlemen Alfred Pennyworth, but after tonight’s sword fight with Azrael, I think I now officially prefer the badass retired James Bond version of Alfred.
– Why in the name of Bill Finger would you give away the return of Fish Mooney in a preview? Nice spoiler Gotham, jeez.
– As for Hugo Strange’s little monster experiment thing, that certainly is a story engine to introduce a poop ton of established monstrous villains, huh? Clayface is coming!
– The Basil Karlo version of Clayface first appeared in Detective Comics #40 (June 1940) and was created by Bob Kane. And by created by Bob Kane, I mean Karlo was probably at least co-created by Bill Finger.
Anyway, Karlo was the first in a long line of villains calling himself Clayface. He was also one of Batman’s earliest name foes. Karlo was a horror actor in the vein of Lon Chaney who would disguise himself as the monsters he played to commit crimes. Karlo only made one comic book appearance in the ’40s, but the fine creators at DC must have liked the Clayface name because they used it once again in the 1950s when Matt Hagen was created. Hagen was the shape shifting hunk of sentient mud that most fans are more familiar with thanks to Batman: The Animated Series. The cartoon version combined Hagen’s powers with Karlo’s acting oriented motivation to create kind of an amalgamation Clayface.
A number of other villains used the same moniker, and I will be curious to see if Karlo remains Gotham’s only Clayface. The Clayface introduced in “A Legion of Horribles” was more like Rubberface but he did have the master of disguise gimmick established back in 1940. It should be noted that in the New 52 DC Universe, Karlo is the current Clayface although he has Hagen’s classic powers and appearance. I really dig the idea that Gotham paid tribute to the original version of the character by making Karlo TV’s first Clayface. The first live action Clayface I might add. About time, too, the character has only existed for 76 years.
– Firefly was a bit vampy and over the top but you have to love that costume. Firefly’s battle suit is a perfect visual match for the character’s comic book uniform. And hey, if this Firefly dies, does that mean Fox cancelled Firefly a second time? Oh, stop.
– We’ll get into the origins of the Court of Owls next week, when the secret society makes its proper debut, but for now I will ask, was there any reason that Gotham changed the design of the owl mask? I mean, Greg Capullo’s Spartan design is one of the most effectively creepy villain designs in modern comics, why the heck would they change it?
– So, Fish Mooney’s new Kilgrave the Purple Man like powers were established by having her ask for a grilled cheese sandwich? Really, Gotham? Really? But admit it; half of you fried yourself up a grilled cheese tonight, didn’t you?
– It’s always nice to see Poison Ivy again, and hey, maybe next season she’ll even get to do something!
– When Nygma had Bruce and Lucius Fox trapped in his little makeshift gas chamber, did anyone else get a Batman ’66 vibe? Heck man, Cory Michael Smith even made with a nice Frank Gorshin cackle. All we needed was a Dutch angle, and we would have really been back in the BIFF, POW, WHAM days.
– So, were there enough villains in this finale? Freeze, Clayface, Riddler, Penguin, Catwoman, Firefly, Hugo Strange, the Court of Owls, Fish Mooney. Go home Gotham, and have a nice long summer break and think about what you did. Done lost your damn mind.
– The Court of Owls first appeared in Batman Vol. 2 #2 (October 2011) and was created by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. The Owls are a secret society that have been running Gotham from the shadows for centuries. They are a creepy as heck organization that pushed Batman to the limit when the New 52 began.
Basically, The Court of Owls kidnaps circus children and brainwashes them into becoming the Court’s elite foot soldiers, the Talons. Actually, one can postulate that the whole point of Hugo Strange’s experiment was to create Talons for the newly revealed Court. Secrecy is a top priority to the Owls which was why they ordered Strange to bomb Indian Hill.
The Court of Owls is pretty much the only lasting and impactful new concept to come out of DC’s New 52, something that is worth noting as the DC comic book universe is on the verge of a Rebirth. It’s fun to see the Court of Owls make its live action debut even though the owl masks used on Gotham absolutely suck. I said it before, the Greg Capullo designed blank face masks is one of the creepiest designs in modern comics, so why change it? I guess for the same reason the showrunners of Gotham thinks it’s okay to use 89 villains in a finale. Gotham doesn’t really think sometimes, Gotham just (to paraphrase a great man) does things. Anyway, track down DC’s Court of the Owls in trade paperback, it’s top shelf stuff.
– I didn’t recognize any of the mutates on Fish’s bus, but I guess this gives Gotham license to now include any superhuman Bat foe into the proceedings. We already heard Solomon Grundy is on his way next season, but now the door is open for Man Bat, Killer Croc, and even Bane. Oh good, more villains.
So the point of the season long Theo Galavan as Azrael arc was…? What now?