Batman: Gotham by Gaslight (DC)

Gotham_by_Gaslight
CREDIT: DC Comics

Rating: 4.5/5 – This Holds Up Great 25 Years After It Was Originally Published.
by ComicSpectrum Reviewer Shawn Hoklas.

Believe it or not it’s been twenty-five years since Gotham by Gaslight hit comic shops. Twenty-five years…comics can sometimes make you feel old since I remember when this book came out and chose to pass on it at the time since it had what I thought was too high of a price…at $3.95! How things change. Gotham by Gaslight is considered to be the first Elseworlds book by DC.  When this book was published it didn’t carry the Elseworlds logo, which signified that the story within would not take place in the proper DC universe. Like the “imaginary stories” that came before, creators would imagine these heroes in a time or world not their own. Gotham by Gaslight imagines a world where Batman watches over a Gotham City right before the end of the 19th century as he looks to find the killer known as Jack the Ripper.

There are a lot of similarities between the Batman we all know and the Batman set in this alternate world. Writer Brian Augustyn opens the story with a two page origin reminiscent of the scene from Batman Year One. Although there’s quite a few similarities, there’s a few differences that absolutely set the tone and timeframe of this story. It allows the essence of the character to stay true to what makes the original so great, while changing just enough to make this something different and unique. From there the story turns to a manhunt within Gotham, not only for Jack the Ripper, but also for the mysterious Batman as the city questions if there’s a connection between the two. Augustyn paces the story brilliantly and although the ending leaves a bit to be desired, the overall work is a fantastic first entry into what becomes a standard story telling device at DC for years to follow.

Not only do we get a strong story by Augustyn, but we also get some amazing art by Mike Mignola and inker P. Craig Russell. Mignola’s lines look a bit heavier with the inking of Russell. It’s obviously Mignola, but different enough from what we’ve become used to from his work on Hellboy. There’s some really fantastic scenes in this book towards the end that’s just so typical Mignola with the moon, falling leaves, and gravestones set in the dark and gloomy Gotham City. Mignola and Russell’s work fits the story perfectly while capturing the look of the time period it’s set in. This is a great read for both story and art, and after reading it again twenty years later, it in no way shows that age, it’s as good today as it ever was.

Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
(shawn@comicspectrum.com
)
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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