Originally written as a standalone comic by Brian Augustyn and Mike Mignola, Gotham by Gaslight is an original Elseworlds story, a DC Comics publication known for creating storylines that stray from traditional canon by taking heroes out of their element and placing them in an alternate reality or timeline. In the case of Gotham by Gaslight, Batman finds himself in a Victorian-themed Gotham City, hunting down the infamous serial killer, Jack the Ripper. Sounds cool, right?
The story takes place in the late 1800s and features a steampunk-themed Batman in pursuit of a dangerous killer showing no signs of slowing down. Night after night, the bodycount grows and despite his best efforts, the people of Gotham become convinced that Batman and Jack the Ripper are one in the same. To quote another famous Batman story, “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”
Can Bruce Wayne find Jack the Ripper before he’s caught and wrongfully imprisoned?
While I was slightly unfamiliar with the source material, I thought Jim Krieg did a wonderful job creating a script that fans can appreciate. In particular, Krieg does a great job writing in secondary characters like Hugo Strange, Harvey Dent and Jason Todd in both fun and clever ways. Building on that, director Sam Liu also deserves high praise for committing to a particular style, sticking to it and having it pay off.
If you’re a fan of Batman: Under the Red Hood, you’ll be happy to know that Bruce Greenwood is once again voicing the Caped Crusader. I’ve always been a fan of his work and his portrayal in Gotham by Gaslight is no different. Much like the tone that made Red Hood such a success, Greenwood does an excellent job matching the dark and gritty nature needed for this version of Batman to remain believable. I hope this isn’t the last time we hear Bruce voicing… Bruce.
I was also pleasantly surprised to learn Jennifer Carpenter was voicing Selina Kyle. Normally I find Catwoman to have little importance in the traditional animated universe, but Gotham by Gaslight changed that opinion. Carpenter’s Selina Kyle is smart, strong and empowered and it was refreshing actually nice to see a Catwoman that wasn’t wearing a skin-tight leather costume. Not only that, it made the dynamic between Bruce and Selina that much better. As fans, we get so used to seeing things one way but times are changing. Why shouldn’t our comics follow suit? A female Thor, anyone?
While it was a little odd watching Batman take on Jack the Ripper, it was a really entertaining experience. When you combine that with the awesome central twist and even better visuals, it’s hard not to love Gotham by Gaslight. Don’t get me wrong, the story could’ve been better and the there were times the background looked off, but at the end of the day, Gotham by Gaslight is more than a worthy addition to the DC Universe Animated Original Movies.