Batman: Gothic: Deluxe Edition by Grant Morrison and Klaus Janson (graphic novel review).

Much of Grant Morrison’s work at DC Comics was after I dropped out of comic reading. The original material for ‘Batman: Gothic’ was in Legends Of The Dark Knight # 6-10 in 1990 and although I collected the title back then, it wasn’t until I got this graphic novel that I found that out. Little of it stuck in the past 30 years.

The regular underworld crime lords of Gotham City are being killed off by a man who casts no shadow called Mr. Whisper and they find themselves in a weird situation that they have to contact Batman requesting his help, offering to stop their criminal activities while he does so as part of the deal. This is something that he doesn’t want to do. As Bruce Wayne, he is also getting repeating dreams of school, a cathedral and his dad before waking up and slowly puts the clues together and finding all of it linked together.

How close to spoiler can I can. Mr. Whisper was a catholic priest who makes a pact with the devil to live for 300 years which is nearly up and apart from settling old scores, is ready to drop a lethal plague on Gotham City. Not the nicest near immortal in the world and you would have thought that had be been more significant, such a character would have popped up more like a certain other near immortal did.

The story carries itself as far as it goes. You would have to wonder how Batman’s gyro-copter could have gotten him to Germany from America without re-fuel stops when it might have been more convenient and quicker to go as Bruce Wayne on a commercial flight. To just use it as a means for a panel to show him leaving Gotham seems a wasted objective. If everyone knew when the Batman was out of town, they’d be having a field day until he returned.

Dividing Klaus Janson as a penciller and inker, there are samples of his pencils at the back of this book which shows far more and better detail than how he left it at the inked stage. At either stage, there are many decisions to be made as to what benefits being left or to embellish. For some panels, I couldn’t help wondering he took out too much and some of it makes the work a little too variable but I doubt that will change after so many years.

I’m never quite sure about mixing a Batman story with the supernatural because the dark knight is more effective against more material things. Of course, with all the remakes of the DC Universe since that time, you would have to wonder if it would be considered cannon today. From all accounts, it appears not to be so really for the Grant Morrison collectors,

GF Willmetts

April 2020

(pub: DC Comics, 2018. 144 page graphic novel softcover. Price: I pulled my copy for £ 9.55 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-40127-845-8)

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