Book Review – Teen Titans vol. 1: Damian Knows Best

  • Title: Teen Titans vol. 1: Damian Knows Best
  • Author: Benjamin Percy
  • Artists: Khoi Pham, Jonboy Meyers, Diógenes Neves, Wade Von Grawbadger, Ruy José, Sean Parsons, Jim Charalampidis, John Kalisz, Corey Breen
  • Line: Rebirth
  • Characters: Damian Wayne (Robin), Beast Boy, Starfire, Raven, Kid Flash (Wally West mark II), R’as al Ghul, Batman, Talia al Ghul
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 09/01/2017

This graphic novel re-introduces Teen Titans as part of DC Comics’ Rebirth. Rebirth also has a Titans book, with older heroes from the former Teen Titans. The Titans in this book are: Beast Boy, Starfire, Raven, and Kid Flash, and it brings in Damian Wayne as Robin. But this isn’t really a team book – it’s Damian’s story that the other Teen Titans almost guest star in. The book opens with each of the Titans being knocked out by a mysterious figure. They wake up, in restraints, and meet their attacker and the person holding them captive – Robin. But the team is still reeling from the death of their Robin, Tim Drake (in Rebirth’s Detective Comics).

The Titans pull together as a team, and break out of their restraints. Robin uses this to prove his point – they are stronger together, as a team. He tells them a team of assassins has been sent after them, then Damian tries to appoint himself leader of the New Teen Titans. This doesn’t go over well, and when the assassins show up almost immediately – the Titans are quickly defeated. Robin disappears but returns with a stolen Bat-plane and rescues them.

However, the team doesn’t really pull together or gel – and soon Damian leaves again, making his way to R’as al Ghul’s island fortress to offer himself in return for the other Titans’ lives being spared. R’as pits Damian in a fight against his cousin, a girl he’s always managed to defeat before. But she’s learned a few things. In their first fight, she defeats Damian but doesn’t kill him.

The Titans follow Damian and try to rescue him. In the end, they defeat the team of assassins not in a fight, but with the truth – exposing R’as al Ghul’s lies about their families willingly abandoning them. Damian is able to escape and the threat against the team is neutralized. The Teen Titans agree to accept Damian into their ranks. Damian, however, has to face his father – Batman.

This really is a Damian story, more than a team book – though the team is definitely there. I also personally preferred the older team of Titans. But, considering the book is about Damian and his history, as well as how he spends his thirteenth birthday, it’s about Damian becoming part of the team – though not in the typical way. The story at times is very cold, because Damian is a cold character (and oddly suited to the warmer team – even this slightly older version of Raven).

Still, it’s a good book, and a good story. It’s interesting to see Damian choosing Bruce and Batman over Talia and his grandfather. Recommended.

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Book Review – Batman/Superman vol. 3: Second Chance

  • Title: Batman/Superman vol. 3: Second Chance
  • Author: Greg Pak
  • Artists: Jae Lee
  • Line: New 52
  • Characters: Batman (Bruce Wayne), Superman (Clark Kent), Dr. Ray Palmer (The Atom), Kaiyo the Chaos Demon, Catwoman (Selina Kyle), Alfred Pennyworth
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 9/30/2016

DC Comics New 52 book Batman/Superman has proved to be such a disappointment that I’ve decided not to continue to purchase this series, or to look-up the rest of it that’s already available. This book had two stories both with intriguing plots – and I can’t fault the series on plotting. It’s the characterization that just isn’t quite there.

I did like the first story, Batman and Superman return from wherever, and Batman collapses. Superman scans Batman with his X-ray vision and discovers a microscopic society and city in his brain. He immediately calls in Dr. Ray Palmer (in this story just becoming The Atom), who gives Superman a “shrink belt”, acknowledging himself that it needs a better name, and they, “The Incredible Journey”-style go inside Bats to safely remove the city and it’s people – and to save Batman as the city is pressing on his brain causing a coma. Inside Batman, they meet a alien woman who’s fleeing another alien dictator. They rescue her and toss the villain out, then remove the city. The story had a light touch, and with Ray there, even some appropriate humor. Superman was reticent and unemotional about Bruce’s condition – one of the problems with New 52’s take on Superman in general. Clark and Bruce are, or should be, great friends – not colleagues who can barely take working together.

The second story has Batman and Superman sent back to Earth-2 by the Chaos Demon Kaiyo, there they are merely ghosts – until they make a single choice to act, then they get the opportunity to try to change something. Naturally, these changes don’t have the effect they want. But, upon returning to regular DC Universe Earth, both Batman and Superman completely lose their respective memories. As total amnesiacs, they also have completely different personalities. Bruce is light and carefree. Alfred tells him, because he asks, what made him become Batman – but to Bruce, it isn’t something he experienced – it’s like hearing a story or watching a movie. For Alfred, he sees Bruce happy and is glad for it. Bruce then takes up the mantle of Batman again – as a duty, almost a job, a career – something he wants to do, but not an obsession – something he’s driven to do.

Superman is less successful in adapting to his new amnesiac status. He takes up with Catwoman (out of serendipity – she’s being attacked and he rescues her when he first arrives). Superman has no memory of Lois. And he has no family. (Sidenote: What happened to the Kents? This series keeps referring to Clark as a complete orphan and the Kents being killed in a car crash, presumably when Clark was still quite young. This makes no sense.) Superman also doesn’t hold back in the use of his powers. Eventually both Bruce and Superman get their memories back – Alfred is sad to see the Batman/Bruce he has known for so long head into the Cave.

I did like the full-page panels, one for Batman and one for Superman, of several images visually representing the two getting their memories back – it’s both a wonderful static image and yet something that represents each person experiencing a rush of memories. Well done. The rest of the art in the book is also good, though the characters have a less photo-realistic or even painted look than other series in the DC line.

Again, I’ve decided to not continue buying this series. I’m loving DC Rebirth , and there are collection series reprints from the 1990s (Chuck Dixon’s Nightwing and Birds of Prey) as well as a couple of New 52 series (Birds of Prey, Justice League Dark) that I enjoy much more. I loved the Superman/Batman series from the 1990s, it was well-written, at times brilliant, and I have all or nearly all of it (I might be missing one volume); Batman/Superman is disappointing.

Book Review – Batman: Long Shadows

  • Title: Batman: Long Shadows
  • Author: Judd Winick
  • Artists: Mark Bagley, Ed Benes, Rob Hunter
  • Line: Post-Final Crisis (Stand-alone novel)
  • Characters: Alfred Pennyworth, Dick Grayson, Tim Drake
  • Publication Date: 2011
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 5/14/2016

OMG – this is one of the BEST graphic novels I have ever read, and the best modern graphic novel I’ve read. One of the things I didn’t like about Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis was it’s lack of emotional resonance. I mean, (Spoiler) Batman dies and no one cares? No one even notices not even his best friend, Clark Kent (Superman)? Ah, no.

But Long Shadows makes up for that. It investigates the lost of Bruce Wayne on those who knew and cared for him best. This book had me in tears more than once. And I’ve also read it at least three times since buying it, and I rarely read graphic novels more than once.

The book begins with Superman and Wonder Woman bringing Batman’s empty and torn cape and cowl to Wayne Manor. They tell Alfred, Dick (Richard Grayson) and Tim (Drake) that Bruce has died. The rest of the story is a realistic portrayal of loss. From Alfred stating, “my son is dead, I am not all right,” to Dick saying, “I knew he wouldn’t live forever, but I wasn’t ready for him to die this soon”. This is a grim, sad story, realistically told.

I loved the interactions of Bruce’s family as they dealt with his loss.

Truly, a ground-breaking work. Perfect. And highly, highly recommended.

Book Review – Birds of Prey vol. 3 (1990s – Chuck Dixon)

  • Title: Birds of Prey vol. 3
  • Author:  Chuck Dixon
  • Artists: Greg Land, Gloria Vasquez, Patricia Mulvihill, Dick Giordano,  Albert T DeGuzman, Patrick Zircher, John Costanza, Butch Guice, Drew Geraci, Jordi Ensign, Jose Marzan Jr.
  • Line: 1990-Era (Early Modern Age)
  • Characters: Oracle (Barbara Gordon), Black Canary (Dinah Lance), Power Girl, Nightwing, Alfred Pennyworth, Robin
  • Collection Date: 2016 (reprint)
  • Collected issues: Birds of Prey #12-21 and Nightwing #45-46 (1999-2000)
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 3/22/2017

This is the third volume of the collected Classic Birds of Prey written by Chuck Dixon and illustrated by Greg Land and others. First, Black Canary is out to stop the breakout of a number of super-villains from a prisoner transport train. She, the military officers protecting the train, and the villains are transported by Boom Tube to Apokolips. There, with the help of a weaker parademon that isn’t part of the hoard, they must all escape. Barbara meets Ted Kord at a technology conference – and discovers he’s the co-hacker she’s been chatting with on-line for months. Diana tries to help an abused woman in her apartment building but is too late to prevent her from killing her abuser. Barbara interviews the Joker from an unseen position. Finding out the Joker has sold nuclear cruise missiles to a terrorist group, she asks for more information. When she tells Joker he isn’t in Arkham but New York, he tells her the nukes are on missiles that will hit New York. Oracle calls in Powergirl, Black Canary, and even the US Military to stop the attack. Dinah (Black Canary) is sent on a humanitarian mission to Transbelvia to help refugees and victims of ethnic cleansing and war between Krasy-Volnans and Belvans. She helps a group get to a shelter, overall things do not go well. Meanwhile, Jason Bard calls Barbara from the hospital where he’s undergoing an operation to restore his sight. Barbara offers to get him some investigative work.

There is a flashback story of Barbara setting up her Oracle base with the help of Richard Grayson (Nightwing) and Robin. She ends up also having Ted Kord visit her apartment and meeting with Jason Bard as well (who discovers she is in the chair).

The final volumes collected in Volume 3 of Birds of Prey reprint Nightwing and Birds of Prey in order. Nightwing is captured by Blockbuster, but freed by Cisco Blaine, who turns out to be a Federal agent. However, while Nightwing goes to get the files to bring down Blockbuster, Nite-Wing (Tad) the not-that-bright vigilante kills Blaine. Grayson freaks. Meanwhile, Black Canary is being pursued. Alfred and Robin rescue Dick, and they race to rescue Oracle. Meanwhile, Blockbuster has hired Mouse, Giz, Stallion, and Lady Vic, to find and destroy Oracle. Alfred, Robin, Nightwing, and Black Canary rush to help Barbara (Oracle). Barbara survives but Dinah is captured by the bad guys who think she’s Oracle.

Birds of Prey Volume 3 collects Birds of Prey 12-21 and Nightwing #45-46. Note this is NOT the Gail Simone version of Birds of Prey – it’s the original Chuck Dixon version.

Book Review – Nightwing vol. 3: False Starts

  • Title: Nightwing vol. 3: False Starts
  • Author:  Chuck Dixon, Devin Grayson
  • Artists: Greg Land, Scott McDaniel, Karl Story, Bill Sienkiewicz, Roberta Tewes, Noelle Giddings, John Costanza
  • Line: 1990-Era (Early Modern Age)
  • Characters: Nightwing (Dick Grayson), Huntress, Nite-Wing, Batman, Alfred, Tim Drake (Robin)
  • Collection Date: 2015 (reprint)
  • Collected issues: Nightwing #19-25 Nightwing/Huntress #1-4, Nightwing 1/2
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 5/21/2016

**spoiler alert** This volume of the continuing series of Nightwing reprints includes several stories which demonstrate the breadth of Dick Grayson’s character and of the Classic 1990s Nightwing comic book. The first story is the four issue Nightwing/Huntress story Casa Nostra. What happens when a mobster’s alibi is Dick Grayson? When a hooker is killed in a hotel room, the police and Huntress are convinced mobster, Frankie Black is responsible. However, Dick knows that Frankie was set-up because as Nightwing he was following and watching Frankie Black at the docks as he brought in a shipment of arms to sell to another mobster. Frankie, it turns out, had fallen in love with a girl named Moira, who was decidedly not part of the mob scene. He was planning on using the arms sale to finance his escape, and having his name on a hotel register was his alibi. Huntress is after Frankie Black because going after mobsters is what she does. Dick has to convince Huntress that Frankie is innocent, of killing the hooker anyway, and convince her to help him solve the case. When a Gotham Vice cop arrives in Blüdhaven because the “hooker” was his partner who was on an unsanctioned undercover sting operation, the case gets that much more complicated. Nightwing and Huntress solve it, but not before tragedy occurs for Moira, Frankie, Pasquelle – Frankie’s “sidekick”, and a crooked cop. Yet Nightwing and Huntress also spend the night together before going their separate ways. This first four-part story I enjoyed, though the ending was dark and sad. Still, in the end, Nightwing solves the case, and Huntress proves she isn’t simply interested in blindly killing mobsters.

The next story, “The Breaks”, has Nightwing silently guarding a Federal witness. The witness, and the marshals don’t do the best job of protecting the witness – but Nightwing rescues the mobster and delivers him to the Feds to turn state’s evidence much to the chagrin of the mobster himself.

“Shudder” and “Day After Judgment” are Nightwing’s roles in the long Batman series – “The Road to No Man’s Land” and “No Man’s Land”. When Gotham City is nearly destroyed by a 7.5 Earthquake, Nightwing goes by boat to the city to do what he can to help. Dick is terrified by what he will find when he realizes the epicenter of the quake wasn’t far from Wayne Manor. Dick helps people in trouble because of the quake, meets up with Oracle and Robin (Tim Drake) then he and Tim go to the Manor. They find the Manor nearly completely destroyed, and worry for the safety of Alfred, Bruce, and Harold (Bruce’s mechanic). Dick rescues Alfred and Harold from the ruins of the mansion and Batcave, but Bruce is missing. All that Alfred can say is it’s been days since Bruce swam out of the cave in search of help. In the meantime, Gotham’s emergency services are overwhelmed by dealing with the quake and resulting fires, power outages, and general chaos. A reporter is handed a videotape which she brings to Commissioner Gordon. The tape contains a ransom demand – the earthquake wasn’t a simple natural disaster but engineered, and if the man responsible isn’t paid off he will set off additional earthquakes. After a week, Dick returns to Blüdhaven, only to discover his building’s been condemned and his landlady and friends have been kicked out of their homes. Dick uses his Halley company to buy the building, hires people to bring it up to code, and gives his neighbors vouchers to stay in a hotel until the work is completed.

Also in “False Starts”, a young man is inspired to become a superhero and adapts the name “Nite-Wing” – not only is he using Dick’s alter-ego as a super identity, but since the mob wants Dick dead, he’s soon shot to pieces and ends up in intensive care. Dick, who’s about to enjoy a night out with his landlady, Clancy, gets a call from a very worried Barbara Gordon (Oracle), and then has to break the false “Nite-Wing” out of the hospital and protect him from the mob. Despite attacks by various hired killers, Dick is able to give the guy to Alfred to take care of. Dick didn’t even know the “John Doe’s” real name but felt responsible for him anyway.

In “Paper Revelations”, Nightwing, Robin, and Connor Hawke the Green Arrow, work in Gotham with Batman to solve a series of “Monkey” murders. It appears a group of assassins are at work in Gotham, but tracking down and killing the competition is Lady Shiva. The story ends in a “To be continued” with Black Canary and Bronze Tiger held captive, and Nightwing, Green Arrow, and Robin confronting Lady Shiva.

In “The Forgotten Dead”, Dick’s working as a barkeeper in Clancy’s bar and listens to a retiring police officer talk about a 15-year cold case that’s always gotten to him. Dick investigate’s the cold case as Nightwing with help from Oracle. He solves the case using old-fashioned leg work and detective work, then let’s the cop know who did it through an anonymous tip.

In the final story, “The Boys”, Nightwing trains Robin by jumping on the top of moving freight cars as they travel through the city. The catch? Both are blindfolded. But the training session gives both Dick and Tim a chance to talk to each other, as well as discuss their concern for Bruce, who’s been even more distant since the Gotham Earthquake.

“False Starts” shows many facets of Dick Grayson’s character. “Casa Nostra” the Huntress crossover shows not only Dick’s abilities as a crimefighter, but his honesty. He’s not going to let a mobster be framed for a crime he didn’t commit, even if his other crimes are numerous, bloody, and frightening. Plus, we see a budding romance between Dick and Huntress.

Both “The Breaks” and “False Starts” show Dick, or rather, Nightwing, in Superhero mode – protecting people who need protection, and helping where no one else can or will help. And still, we see Dick’s honesty. He’s essentially being the “good cop” though he has no badge (yet).

“Shudder” and “Day After Judgment” show Dick’s commitment to his own family: Bruce Wayne, Alfred Pennyworth, Barbara “Oracle” Gordon, Tim “Robin” Drake. When a disaster hits Gotham, Dick drops everything in his own home town and goes home to help. In Gotham, Dick helps every day people – a mother, her child, and a bus full of passengers stuck underground when the roads collapsed during the quake – and he helps his own family, showing up at the manor, even though he doesn’t know what he will find. He even understands Tim’s need to see his own father, rather than wait to see what Dick finds at the Manor (especially as it does not look good.) This shows Dick’s loyalty, as well as the Justice League’s commitment to helping during natural and man-made disasters.

When he returns home, we see Dick’s generous spirit as well as his loyalty to his friends.

And we see Dick as the older brother, taking Tim under his wing – so to speak – and not only training him, but giving him a sounding board.

Nightwing False Starts is actually a fine introduction to the Classic Nightwing character, even though it’s the third volume in the series. It introduces the reader to the many sides of Dick’s character as well as different types of stories: mob stories, detective stories, character-driven stories, disaster stories, even superhero stories. Dick Grayson is an excellent character, and by False Starts he’s moved out of the Batman’s shadow and firmly established himself in his own world. I highly recommend this book, and the series (which DC Comics is currently reprinting a volume at a time).

Book Review – Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls (New 52)

  • Title: Batman vol. 1: The Court of the Owls
  • Author: Scott Synder
  • Artists: Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion, FCO, Richard Starkings, Jimmy Betancourt
  • Line: New 52
  • Characters: Batman (Bruce Wayne), Nightwing (Dick Grayson), Alfred Pennyworth
  • Collection Date: 2012
  • Collected issues: Batman (New 52) 1-7 (2011-2012)
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 12/27/2014

I didn’t like the first few “New 52” books I picked up, and I still have a love-hate relationship with the “New 52” series of DC Comics books. In short, DC needs to be DC – with great characters, and complex relationships, but where the characters trust each other with their lives and identities – leave the Marvel style to Marvel, in my opinion. DC has 76 years of history and characters, they need to bring that back.

I must say, I found Batman Vol. 1, a compelling read. I sat down and read the (albeit thin) graphic novel this afternoon, and I really couldn’t put it down. I actually wanted to order Vol. 2 right away, but it was sold out at Amazon, so I’ll wait for it to get back in stock, or pick it up during one of B&N’s 3-for-2 sales. I liked how Bruce/Batman, Dick/Nightwing, and Alfred were written – all reminded me of the characters I knew and loved so well. But, like Bruce, I had a hard time buying the Conspiracy-of-Evil known as the Court of Owls. I also found it odd that Bruce, confronted, as he was that the conspiracy existed, kept denying it. I wanted to see more interaction between Bruce and Alfred, of course – and between Bruce and Dick. And, I must admit, by the end of the graphic novel – it did make sense that Gotham’s incredible run of bad luck could be caused by the Court of Owls trying and often succeeding in killing anyone trying to bring hope, light, and happiness to Gotham.

Definitely recommended to Batman and DC fans, though I personally would like to see the pre-New 52 Justice League and main DC characters back.

Gotham Season 1 Review

  • Series: Gotham
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 22
  • Discs: 6
  • Cast: Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, David Mazouz, Sean Pertwee, Robin Lord Taylor, Camren Bicondova, Jada Pinkett Smith
  • Network:  FOX (Warner Brothers Productions)
  • DVD Format: Color, Widescreen 

Gotham is simply awesome. Just awesome. It should come to no surprise to anyone who spends any time looking around this blog that I am a massive Batman fan, and I just love Gotham. The series takes the idea of a prequel to the Batman mythos we know so well, and makes it it’s own show. Gotham is in it’s own seperate universe from the CW’s DC universe shows. Not only is it much darker than Arrow and much, much darker than The Flash, but it’s setting and look are very, very different. But it still has elements of the Batman universe we know, just… earlier. Also, in some cases, this is very much an alternate view of Batman and the Batman villains we know, a different universe so to speak – but every different version of Batman is different, and that must not be forgotten. It’s pointless to discount a truly excellent show – because the way the characters are presented is different from what you expect, or the particular version of Batman you know.

Gotham looks great and the cinematography is incredible. And the subtly of suggestion in the cinematography was something that I really loved – and that reminded me of the great Film Noir stories of the past. At the end of “Viper”, as Liza and Falcone sit listening to Opera on her iPod, the camera pans up, and the green bushes framing the park form a bat. In “The Mask”, Harvey Bullock gives a rousing speech to the cops to get them to help search for a missing Jim Gordon, as the cops rise to help Bullock, sunlight rakes the room from screen left, like a sunrise. And in the episode where Harvey Dent is introduced, we see him with half his face in shadow and half in the light. Plus the cinematography is just gorgeous throughout – the city, a combination of sets and on-location shooting in New York City, manages to look both gorgeous – and old, shiny – yet used and dirty – and the architecture, is just incredible. It’s one of the few times I’ve seen Gotham City not immediately look like the city where something was really filmed or a studio lot.

The show uses a mix of styles, setting it apart, and not in a particular era. For simplicity of storytelling – everyone has cell phones. Yet the architecture has that gorgeous Art Deco look to it, with a bit of Gothic. (The Police bull pen set, is a fantastic two-floor set, with wonderful Gothic look to it – from the pillars to the archways (OK, they are rounded – like Romanesque not pointed like true Gothic, but still – it quickly brings to mind church architecture.) to the windows, to the clock.) I did watch the special features for the season set, and it didn’t surprise me at all that the Bull Pen was inspired by great train stations – St. Pancras in the UK and Grand Central in the US). Fish Mooney’s place has a 30s speakeasy feel – even once Penguin updates the look (and the updating showed surprising restraint, and was realistic to what Penguin could do. Plus they add to it with each episode – which also gave a realistic feel.) Barbara’s penthouse. Oh man – her penthouse, with that giant clock window?! How much more of a reference to the “Birds of Prey” do you need? And it was so, so awesome when you had Barbara, Ivy, and Cat, together in that place – with the clock in the background. And yes, her penthouse, her parents mansion, the mayor’s place, Don Falcone’s – all show the opulent, yet cold, wealth of Gotham’s elite. Even Wayne Manor seems cold at times.

Jim Gordon, in many, many ways, even more so than in Batman: Year One, is the hero of Gotham. He’s young, idealistic, and his light will bring light to the city. Or at least we hope so. In the first season, he turns things around and brings hope and light – even when he makes mistakes. Harvey Bullock changes, but not too radically, because of Detective Gordon, and Ben McKenzie is so good in the role. I’ve criticized his acting before, notably in Batman: Year One, but here he’s found a suitable role in a suitable environment – and he excels as a result.

Gotham is also the story of it’s villains – and like the graphic novels The Long Halloween and Dark Victory, the Dark Knight Trilogy directed by Nolan (especially Batman Begins), and the works of Frank Miller, such as Batman: Year One, those villains start with the Mob. Four of our main characters all have some connection to the mob – and the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne, Bruce’s parents, is the spark that lights off the signal for everyone to jockey for new positions – which results in a mob war. The Players include Don Carmine Falcone and Don Maroni – the two crime bosses of Gotham’s major crime families. They have an “understanding” and the uneasy peace is easy to upset. Fish Mooney is a top lieutenant, under Falcone. She wants to push “the old man” out and take over. Her schemes fill the first half of the season. Under her is her pal and right-hand man, Butch, and her errand boy Oswald “Penguin” Cobblepot. Oswald is smart, and he’s studied and learned. He snitches to the cops on Fish, gets caught, but it’s a move in a larger game. Soon he’s working for Maroni, but eventually we find he was always working for Falcone. Penguin has two goals – to push out Fish (much like Fish wants to push out Falcone) and basically to take over all of Gotham and to be the king of organized crime in the city. The thing is, Oswald isn’t quite sane – and he messes with everyone. He has a goal – to be in charge of everything, but he doesn’t seem to be afraid to mess about with Falcone, Maroni, Fish and everyone else – even relying on James Gordon – but demanding favors in return.

The other villains we meet are merely introduced. In fact, the series starts with the “strange villain of the week” but quickly develops into a fascinating story that successfully interweaves the story lines of all the major characters. We meet Cat – young Catwoman, an orphan and street kid who’s probably Bruce’s age – maybe a bit older. We meet Ivy, who might be Poison Ivy – or might be a feint. We meet Joker, well, ditto. And we meet Edward Nygma, a forensic scientist working for the Gotham PD, who loves riddles. Yet he also has a crush on Kristen Kringle – a female records clerk. Nygma’s also fascinating to watch, and I hope his character is developed more in Season 2.

Finally, Bruce and Alfred. Again, if you look through my blog, you’ll quickly learn how much I adore Alfred. His relationship with Bruce is my favorite of all the relationships between characters in Batman (with Bruce and Richard Grayson being my second favorite – by a close margin.) Getting the Alfred and Bruce relationship right is key to making any version of Batman work for me. And screwing that up – that destroys any version of Batman for me. Gotham, fortunately, does not mess-up this vital relationship. In the first episode, maybe the first couple, I heard Sean Pertwee’s accent and I thought, “Oh, no – way too cockney, way too East End,” and it wouldn’t be the actor’s natural accent – his father was Jon Pertwee, the Third Doctor on Doctor Who, and fairly RADA/BBC English for an accent. But fortunately, Alfred’s and Bruce’s relationship develops – and develops perfectly. Alfred, with every move he makes or doesn’t make, with every thing he says, and everything he does, loves Bruce Wayne. He loves him. And he will do anything to protect Bruce and to serve Bruce and to help Bruce – but he won’t smother him or coddle him. And he knows that he absolutely cannot take the place of Bruce’s parents – to even try would push Bruce away. So, from the very beginning, we are seeing the essential Bruce and Alfred relationship. Bruce, for his part – and brilliantly played by David Mazouz, pulls back at first, but both the first time Alfred is injured defending him, and most definitely when Alfred is stabbed – Bruce realized what Alfred means to him, and he knows he cannot go on without Alfred. The scenes between Alfred and Bruce are some of my favorites in the series – and they often lighten up a very dark show.

Because, in the end, the show is very, very, very dark. And very violent. At times Gotham wavers into Tarentino Film territory. And there is certainly very much more than just “an element” of Film Noir. Noir is full-on present in Gotham. But in the midst of that darkness, there is light – Jim Gordon brings light, with his attempts to be a real honest cop. Gordon’s light brings light to those around him:  Harvey Bullock, his captain, even to Bruce Wayne. Alfred and Bruce’s relationship, and Bruce’s determination to get to the bottom of his parents’ murder, and to clean-up Wayne Enterprises, also brings light.

Honestly, if you missed this show last year, it is a must-see. It isn’t just a must-see for the Batman or DC fan – it’s a must see if you appreciate good television. (I will say that because of the violence, I would but it at PG-13, maybe 15-and-up).