Gotham Review – “Rogues’ Gallery” S1E11

Oh thank you, Jesus; TV season is back. Right out of the gates, Gotham is back with a variety of new things going on. Jim Gordon has been demoted by the mayor himself to work security at Arkham Asylum, where he will meet Doctor Leslie Thompkins and all hell will surely break loose. While we were very welcome to have Gotham come back, the show is still plagued by the same issues that have done it a disservice all season long.

Pros:

The Freak Show: Gotham can be laughable at times, but there is absolutely nothing fun about a looney bin. There are a few scenes here that set the tone for a darker and scarier rest of the season. Just like it should be.

Leslie Thompkins: There’s really no stopping me from turning into a drooling fanboy when I see Morena Baccarin on screen, but I will attempt to stay level-headed. The newest addition to the show has big shoes to fill in from comic book lore, and has been solid so far.

By himself but not alone: I jumped for joy when Gordon’s former partner Harvey Bullock showed up. Their once-awkward partnership has gained quite a bit of chemistry, and will be one of my favorite components of the show going forward.

Butch starts earning his nickname: In what could have been a very lame twist, Fish Mooney’s fight-hand man ends up getting a lot of brownie points for being a soldier.

Speaking of Fish Mooney: It could be the off-season drought of TV, or it could be the lack of screen time she got, but I found Fish’s character to be much more palatable (haaaa….) this episode. Let’s hope the trend continues.

gotham rogues gallery 2

Cons:

Penguin is not a peacock:  After Robin Lord Taylor’s Oswald Cobblepot became our hand-down favorite of the show, it was a little disappointing to see him put in his place so abruptly.

Spoil the mood tunes: Every time that a legitimate threat is formulating, Gotham feels the need to let us know just how dark and suspenseful it is – with some Danny Elfman-esque effects. Severely corny and outdated 25yrs later.

Barbara is a FLOOZY: This episode broke whatever attachment I had to Barbara. Not only is she slummin’ it up with Montoya, but she’s added zero value to the show and was dumb enough to believe that a little girl who answered the phone is sleeping with Gordon. What a winner, Jimbo.

Shiiiiiiiiit: Isiah Whitlock, Jr., known to most as The Wire‘s Clay Davis, makes a cameo here as the Director of Arkham Asylum. He must have not learned a damn thing from those federal inditements, because his quick exit was a major let-down for me.

No Waynes: While the Bruce Wayne and Alfred angle had a lot of progression before the break, they were noticeably absent from “Rogues’ Gallery.” I could do without Bruce, honestly; I just want to see Alfred crack heads.

gotham rogues gallery 3

Easter Eggs:

Tempest: The beginning scene has the inmates performing Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the plot of misdirection and deceit is quite relatable to the events in “Rogues’ Gallery.”

Jack Gruber: The mastermind being all the different ECT experiments is, thanks to next episode’s preview, the Electrocutioner, most recently an Arkham Origins villain. He sure doesn’t look the part, but whatever.

Aaron Helzinger: Poor guy – ya try to do the right thing and what happens? Bam, lobotomy. Helzinger is a very minot character from the  early 90’s, a man with spontaneous fits of rage after having his amygdala removed.

 

Hugo Strange: Quite… strange… how this Gruber is so much like Hugo. From the electro-compulsive therapy to the need to want to play with the inmates’ minds, even down to the black gloves and the way his face looks, everything about this Gruber guy screams Hugo Strange.

Leslie Thompkins: Every TV Asylum needs a sexy doctor, and Leslie Thompkins fills, no… floods, that position. Seriously though, Dr. Thompkins is one of Batman’s most trusted civilian allies. In the comics, an aged Thompkins offers asylum to all those in need of help, good or bad. She’s the poster-child of the Hippocratic Oath, and with any luck, the best damn rebound that Jim Gordon could ever hope for.

gotham rogues gallery 5

Predictions:

Don’t be a (Hugo) Strange(r): Gruber’s escape from Arkham will have serious repercussions, from Gordon’s position at the joint to the series of murders Gruber will surely commit before being apprehended.

Sparks fly between Thompkins and Gordon: If you are not rooting for them to hook up, then I don’t know what are you doing.

Bye, Bye Barbara: After her latest outburst of stupid, I have every reason to think that she will be stuffed in the metaphorical refrigerator sooner than later.

Butcher’s block: After Butch’s latest show of loyalty, and emergence as kind of a badass, Fish Mooney will eventually thank him in kind with cement shoes. That’s just what bosses do.

Selina doesn’t actually know a damn thing: This future Catwoman is an absolute USER. Like the kind the Eurythmics used to sing about. There’s no way she actually has anything relevant to say about the Wayne killer.

gotham rogues gallery 6

Hush Comics gives “Rogues’ Gallery” a C+ for being unable to rid itself of the laughably implausible plot devices when there is a perfectly good drama waiting to be fleshed out.

All pictures belong to FOX and DC Entertainment.  They are credited to Jessica Miglio.

Gotham Review – “Harvey Dent” S1E9

Last week’s Gotham introduced a few new characters, and it continued to lay on the soap opera plot of Barbara and Renee. While this week’s bad guy of the week was a blast to watch (pun intended), and Alfred continues to be the best mainstay character on the show, the rest felt lacking in development.

Harvey Dent, professional coin flipper.
Harvey Dent, professional coin flipper.

Pros:

Finally addressing that sweet crib: When Gordon brings Selina home with him, she comments on his apartment, saying he must be “one rich cop.” Turns out it’s Barbara’s place, which doesn’t clear anything up. But at least we know that it didn’t come from Gordon’s money.

Ian Hargrove, crazy bomb maker and best character in the show to date: This week we were introduced to insane bomb maker, Ian Hargrove. He is a brand new character, just for the show, and to date, he is the best character yet. A bomb maker using his own sense of justice in Gotham to take out companies who make guns? Pretty cool. Plus he is smart. Putting an indicator in the bomb he was forced to make by the Russians was a brilliant move, knowing it would lead police to him.

Nygma the Nerd:  Forensics specialist Edward Nygma did add a lot this week’s episode, but his nerd out about video games and trivia made me smile.

Alfred Pennyworth, butler by day, badass by night:  Alfred is quickly shaping up to be the only character with balls on this show. He is unafraid to question authority, teach youngsters how to be Batman, and telling others exactly what he thinks of them. And all that happened just in this episode! My favorite Alfred moment this week was saying that Selina is a tricky little minx. You tell ‘em!

The Ringtone:  When Butch called the Russian’s truck to blow it up, the ringtone was “The Final Countdown.” It’s just funny.

Cons:

The Title:  Gotham really needs to work on its titles. This episode, titled “Harvey Dent” had a total of three scenes with the newly introduced character, and poorly introduced at that. He seems conniving, contradictory to him being a good lawyer according to Gordon. I was confused about if we were supposed to like him or not. Between his fake charisma and his anger outburst, it seems Dent will be a bad guy sooner than later.

“Cat” and her teenage romance:  Selina Kyle, who is going by Cat (ugh) gives James Gordon’s sketch guy a description of the man who killed the Wayne’s There is only one problem with that: he was wearing a mask. How could she have seen his face? I wonder if the audience is supposed to go with this or if she will be revealed to be a liar. Also, the teenage romance between Bruce and Selina is supposed to be sweet, but I think it’s (Jimmy Fallon voice) “ew.”

James Gordon, the detective who is still learning the ropes:  James Gordon is still a better cop than Bullock, (although arguably not this week), but he did a few questionable things. I understand he wants/needs Selina’s help in the Wayne case, so he needs to keep her in close vicinity, but putting her up with the son of the Wayne’s seems like a conflict of interest. Also, when the Russians and Gordon were about to have a shootout in the street over Hargrove, he tells Hargrove his brother and family are in protective custody. Not a good idea to say when the gangs run the town and the police work for them. They can easily find Hargrove’s family and use them for leverage.

Other ridiculous things:  -The “Penguin” music.  -The line by a guard that goes, “Sounds like ticking” and then he leans into the ticking as if it couldn’t be a bomb.  -Jada Pinkett Smith.  -And the fact that she is up for a People’s Choice award for best actress when she is terrible.  -The weird strippers who are always at Mooney’s club, but no one ever goes there, so they must be poor strippers.  – Using the only two women on the show as a lesbian trope to gain viewers.

Put 'em up, Wayne!
Put ’em up, Wayne!

Easter Eggs:

Harvey Dent and his coin:  Harvey Dent was introduced in this episode. We know he is a lawyer, he has a two-headed coin, and that he has an anger problem. This all seems to be pretty spot on with the Harvey Dent of the comic lore. He will eventually be Two-Face, but before that, he’s on the side of the good guys. I don’t’ get that feeling from him quite yet, but time will tell.

Blackgate Penitentiary:  Blackgate Penitentiary has been the prison on Gotham Bay since the early 90’s. Before that, the main prison in Gotham was… Gotham Prison. Blackgate has been the predominant prison used in the lore for years now.

Lovecraft?:  Dick Lovecraft made his first appearance as Gotham City billionaire. Was he in the comics? In short, no. It could be a reference to Justice League villain Dr. Lovecraft; however this character has none of the same characteristics other than just being bad. And really, who in Gotham isn’t?

“You move quiet.”:  Selina tells Bruce that he moves “quiet” when he sneaks up on her as she about to sneak out of Wayne Manor. It was a nice little nod to the grown-up versions of themselves.

Predictions:

Gaytham: Babs didn’t really leave to get away from Gotham, but instead to indulge in Gaytham.

The future of the betting man: Will Dent be instantly bad? Will Maroni throw acid in his face? This season? I think so. His character is young, but introduced as shady from the start. I don’t think we will have much time to like the attorney before he becomes Two-Face.

Hargrove in the bigger picture:  Will Ian Hargrove return? A lot of time was spent on him this episode. Granted, he is locked up in Arkham now, I feel like he was so well written, it would be really cool to bring him back.

Hush Comics gives “Harvey Dent” a B for the introduction of Ian Hargrove, exploring the depths of Alfred Pennyworth, but not spending enough time on the title guy himself, Harvey Dent.

All pictures belong to FOX and DC Entertainment.  They are credited to Jessica Miglio.

Graphic Novel Review – Gotham Central: In the Line of Duty

Collecting: Gotham Central #1-10 (Gotham Central Volume 1 collects three inter-connected stories)

Original Release Date: 2002-2003

Publisher: DC Comics

Character: Marcus Driver, Renee Montoya, Crispus Allen, Mr. Freeze, Two-Face, Batman

Writer: Ed Brubaker (Captain America: Winter SoldierCatwomanBatman: The Man Who LaughsX-Men: The Messiah Complex, Fatale Velvet)

Art: Michael Lark (DaredevilBatman: Nine LivesThe Best of Ray Bradbury: Graphic Novel Edition)

SCORECARD (each category ranked on a 10-point scale):

Storyline – 7
Art – 8
Captivity and Length – 8
Identity – 10
Use of Medium – 6
Depth – 7
Fluidity – 7
Intrigue/Originality – 8
The Little Things – 9
Overall awesomeness – 8

 

With all the attention that The Dark Knight receives in Gotham, you would swear that he’s the only character worth mentioning. Much like Superman has his cohorts at The Daily Planet, Batman has a small team of detectives that he trusts in the GCPD. Through the generations of progression in Batman lore, Batman’s relationship with Gotham City’s finest has been instrumental to his growth as a hero and ability to be plugged into the city. He and newcomer James Gordon forged a relationship that has been the focal point of multiple story arcs, movies, and especially in Batman: The Animated Series, and that relationship is extended to more than just the would-be commissioner.



the board

Ed Brubaker’s Gotham Central takes place after a time where James Gordon has stepped down as Police Commissioner. The GCPD has been cleaned up for the most part, and the city is no longer owned by the corrupt and the mob – although, that does not mean it is not still a point of concern. Just over a ten years ago, there were over a dozen titles that were about Batman or his constituents, so when writer Ed Brubaker pitched a title centered around the police that practically play second fiddle to a masked vigilante who wears his undies over his pants, you can imagine the concern.

The fear that a series of this nature would get tangled up too much with Batman – that it was essentially impossible to separate the Bat, and his infamous cast of villains, from making a good cop story. While Batman is an undeniable presence throughout the book, it is truly the boys (and ladies) in blue that make this series what it is, which, when you get to the bare bones of it, is a great cop drama with a Batman theme to it. From the lingo the cops use to the casual dialogue in the Bullpen, there is a very noir detective air about Gotham Central. Even the art by Michael Lark is loudly reminiscent of the old-timey Detective Comics that the publisher took their name from. This isn’t Lark’s first go-around with noir-style Batman; check out Batman: Nine Lives for a very pulp detective story.

gotham central denial

While Gotham Central didn’t impress sales-wise, it was critically lauded as a breath of fresh air in a Bat-heavy time period. Success of sales in trade paperback convinced the publishers at DC enough to give the series the green light for 40 issues – and I’m sure winning an Eisner Award in 2004 for Best Serialized Story didn’t hurt, either. The book is laid out a lot like an episode of Law & Order, but with a Batman twist. The cops find the crime scene, and while it ends up being the deed of one of Gotham’s freaks, there is still a lot of police legwork in order to catch the perp. In addition to the entertaining detective work, Gotham Central gives its readers plenty of insight into not only how life in the police department works, but how the lives of these officers are affected by the life they lead in Gotham. We get a good hard look at what it’s like to live in the shadow of The Bat, and what drives them; it’s a refreshing take on an entire group of people we had only known as a single entity.

That being said, aside from a few good apples (namely Marcus Driver, Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen), the detective work at GCPD. There are so many poor decisions made on the detectives’ part. For years, I thought it was just bad writing to make them inept in order to make Batman look good, but Brubaker’s decision to make them that green makes this series flow so much better. The good part of it is at least the GCPD cares, and trying is half the battle. They are making desperate efforts to try to prove to themselves, and Batman, that they can protect the city without his help. While the detective work is a major aspect of the stories’ development, it’s the focus on social issues like police corruption, and more noticeably, how sexual orientation is treated in a male-dominated workforce.

trying to work over here

Over a decade ago, before acceptance became the topic of conversation for mainstream media across the country, Detective Renee Montoya was very much still in the closet. Prior to Montoya, openly gay characters in DC’s staple were not viewed positively (their first openly gay character, Extraño, means “Strange” in Spanish), and even since, portrayal of a gay character in comic books has not been done with as much class and accuracy as here in Gotham Central. Montoya struggles with keeping herself an honest cop, keep her girlfriend and that life closeted, as well as balance the strict Catholic lifestyle that her family abides by. Montoya’s struggle is very real, and her double life – hence the name of the mini-arc, Half a Life – parallels the relationship, however creepy and awkward, that Two-Face has with her. Montoya instantly becomes the best character in the book due to her raw honesty about the situation.

Montoya speech

The story got a bit convoluted with several different storylines converging on each other, but for the most part, Gotham Central did a great job at stepping back from the capes and putting the Detective back in Detective Comics… Comics. Volume One may get a little off-track, or corny, but it’s unlike any Batman book you’ve read before. As a reader, you are thrown right in the thick of things, and while that may be overwhelming for somebody not keen on the GCPD history, it is quite enveloping in the way that you get the complete “cop working in Batman’s city” experience.

All media credited to DC Comics