The new animated feature from WB/DC continues a welcome change and direction for fan boys as well as those put off by the latest DC live-action duds: return to the superior animated features of the 90’s!
Gotham by Gaslight, a vastly better product than the 1989 one shot comic it’s based on, vaults Batman back into the noir plots where he’s at his best. Like the very first episode of Batman: The Animated Series, a mysterious villain is wreaking havoc in Gotham. Unlike Batman: The Animated Series, this Gotham is an Elseworlds reality that imagines Bruce Wayne and his familiar cast of heroes and villains in a 19th century setting. In the opening scene alone, all the Robins, Poison Ivy, the Batman himself, and the mysterious murderer show up. However, WB/DC wisely side-steps their backstories and plunge the viewer head first into the unsettling rampage. And it works.
Once viewers are familiar with the plot, Selena Kyle makes her entrance and warns Bruce that his colleague, Harvey Dent, isn’t the same when he’s been drinking. He’s like Jekyll and Hyde- a “Two-Face” if you will. But what about the shadowy Hugo Strange who sees the Wayne fortune as a means to better understand the psychotic minds he’s been studying while torturing in Arkham? The noir plot could have followed a standard direction but the twist on who and why our murderer is preying on Gotham’s hoi polloi will make your jaw hit the floor. It’s unexpected, welcoming, and further drives the simplicity of the script into a “far more clever than most” arena. No viewer will guess the identity- we’ll say no more.
Overall, Gotham by Gaslight is right up there with Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. If WB/DC can keep these understandable, surprising, and twisty stories coming, fans may have their hopes restored. Because, again, nothing Zack Snyder or Joss Whedon and WB are clashing over is worth anyone’s time. Justice League was shit but this return to form is phenomenal!