C2C DARK KNIGHT: CITY OF CRIME!
The month of July saw Batmania grip much of the globe in anticipation of The Dark Knight - Christopher Nolan's 2008 sequel to the franchise revival hit, Batman Begins.
The story of Batman's continued war on crime this time introduced new characters vital to the mythos. The Joker emerges as a counter-responsive force for chaos intent on rallying the criminals of the city and creating a wave of carnage that bucks against the influences of Batman, and Gotham's hot new District Attorney - Harvey Dent. Dent himself enters predestined to become the hideously disfigured and mentally scarred secondary villain of the picture; Two-Face.
[Heath] Ledger's work quickly garnered acclaim from most sources, leading many to believe the late twenty-eight year old should receive an unlikely posthumous Oscar nomination. It was Ledger's chilling realization of the Joker that set a standard for The Dark Knight, not only as a comic book adaptation, but as a densely crafted character study cum action flick.
Nolan too is heaped with praise. With aid from David Goyer and brother, Jonathan; [Nolan] brings together pieces established in the literature and his own 2002 film to fully realise Gotham City as a functioning entity recognisable to many modern city dwellers.
Chicago and chunks of the UK stand in for most city visuals, skirting a relative homogeny comparable to Sydney's transformation for The Matrix films, that makes this a potentially relatable reality for fans worldwide.
Though thoroughly suitable; elements of Nolan's frilled realism buck much of what makes Gotham City a rivetting character in the comics. The muted tones of a greying deco-gothic urbana reflect the musky atmos of Gotham's many dingy corners in a city of huddled masses. It sets the tone for the underlying disturbance and corruption that characterize both it's villains and it's heroes. It's a stylized backdrop for an unmistakable city.
As we close the book on our Batman C2C entries, let us take another look back at some of the stories that have set themselves on the backdrop of this broken city of crime, Gotham.
Batman #624 (April 2004)
"Broken City" Azzarello/Risso
Before the gimmick laden crooks and killers, Gotham City was a city gripped by the corruption of conventional criminals. Mobsters and gangsters pulled the strings of every level of infastructure - including law enforcement - leading men like the Batman to come to reality.
Despite the dominance of freaks the traditions of organized crime remain a strong undercurrent of Gotham City. Some elements cross distinctions, like Penguin and Scarface, who have dealings with both corners of the city. The newest duo to enter this blur between lines is Fatman and Little Boy, Japanese imports establishing themselves quietly in the fishmonger sector.
When a young woman is murdered it sets all of Gotham on a path toward the destruction of her brother, and when Batman realises his responsibility, only he can save Angel Lupo.
DC: The New Frontier #2 (April 2004)
"Gods and Monsters" Darwyn Cooke
The great debate of Gotham City remains the question of whether or not the Batman attracts as much criminal insanity as he prevents. It is a question that remains unanswered as Batman butts heads with not only the recurring crooks of his regular gallery, but also occasional threats that stir from the dingy bowels of the old city.
The Bat finds himself inadvertently teaming with hardened Detectives, Slam Bradley and John Jones, when he clashes with the mysterious occult evils of the Hill Street Cult!
It is a unique brand of corruption and madness that permeates in Gotham City, but this particular gathering of killers and madmen has a far more distant inspiration. One that will force the Batman into another alliance with Det. Jones under very different circumstances.
Nightwing #98 (December 2004)
"Casualty of War" Grayson/Phillips
When the delicate infrastructure of the Gotham underworld is upset by a plan designed by Batman himself -- several leaders of criminal organizations are gunned down, creating a chaotic power vacuum.
Batman and his allies disperse across the city in an effort to contain the carnage they are ultimately responsible for. Among Batman's inner circle, Nightwing, the original Robin, who himself is struggling with the personal shame of being party to an unrelated assassination of Blüdhaven crime boss, Blockbuster.
When Nightwing happens upon one of Gotham's low rent suited criminals, it is the perfect opportunity for the young hero to excise some frustration. Firefly is the unlucky representative of the underarchy that suffers his rages, and those of the police.
Detective Comics #817 (May 2006)
"Face the Face" Robinson/Kirk/Clarke
The Batman's noteriety is not restricted to Gotham's limits, sometimes attracting the attentions of forces like his former Soviet super-assassin - KGBeast.
The once great assassin finds himself the victim of another new player in Gotham City who initially appears to be the cosmetically healed Harvey Dent entrusted by Batman during his absence after the crime war and his battles with Red Hood and Black Mask.
Going from hunter to hunted; KGBeast is the first victim of a vengeful new Tally Man taking his grievances to the criminals of Gotham. Such is the peril even for those who commit crime in the broken city.
Batman Confidential #2 (March 2007)
"Rules of Engagement" Diggle/Portacio
In his early years, Batman finds himself locked in his first battle with Metropolis patriarch, Lex Luthor, not as the cowled dark knight, but instead as industrial head of WayneTECH.
When the pair vie for a contract to design robotic rescue technologies; the struggle escalates as WayneTECH's OGRE droid begins a murderous rampage with Luthor in it's sights.
As Batman; Wayne is forced to battle his own technologies, all the while suffering the suspicions of those who believe the malfunctioning technology to be under his control. His pursuit ultimately reveals a far more bizarre truth about the ghosts in the machine, concluding another chapter in the strange history of Gotham City.