Gotham Review – “Spirit of the Goat” S1E6

After what we’ve seen thus far in Gotham (three consecutive C grades), you can imagine the considerable eye-rolling that took place when we saw that this week’s episode was titled “Spirit of the Goat.” We immediately counted the episode out as being cheesy, ridiculous, and any other adjectives you’ve read in our last three reviews. I am happy to admit that we were sorely wrong; “Spirit of the Goat,” although still containing traces of the superfluous nature of episodes past, was exactly what we were expecting from a show like this (ya know, when expectations were high).

This episode is a complete overhaul in terms of character development and storyline. Sure, The Spirit of the Goat is kinda lame, and Satanic sacrifices have been quite overdone in supernatural-type shows, but the way Harvey Bullock store the show here has undeniably been the missing link. I was honestly as confused as Gordon was when Bullocks’ old partner “Bag-O” Dix explained to Gordon how Bullock tried to be Gotham’s “white knight” (a term the Joker used to describe Harvey Dent in Nolan’s The Dark Knight). we have always been under the impression that Bullock doesn’t care about his job or the people of Gotham, a characteristic that really deviated from the way he has been portrayed since his first appearance in the 1970’s (Detective Comics #441). After this episode, it would seem that he at least cares very much about this case. Whether this would translate into an ongoing personality change, we have no idea, but it sure would be great to see this transform into a Starsky and Hutch-like relationship.

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One day, I’m going to regret not listening to your stupid riddles…

The way the series has been playing out, with Gordon unable to keep himself from tripping over Bullock’s inadequacies, is severely hampering to any relative police work being done. When it comes to inadequacies, though, nobody has the Gotham City Major Crimes Unit beat. These two bumbling morons have assumedly spent the better part of the series thus far chasing around James Gordon to pin him for the murder of Oswald Cobblepot based off solely the words of criminals and drunkards. Even if they were catching the right guy, and the city wasn’t full of officials that were in Falcone’s pocket, there is no way that would ever do anything more than detain him for a few days. Idiots. It could be poor writing, but I’m more convinced that the entire Justice Department of Gotham is really that ill-equipped to deal with the corruption that has befallen it. Or maybe they’re just too afraid to act competently.

You didn't really expect me to do a COMPLETE biopsy, did you?
You didn’t really expect me to do a COMPLETE biopsy, did you?

When Bullock suppresses the evidence that The Goat plants pennies under the victims’ scalps as a trademark, Gordon immediately jumps to the conclusion that this was does as a shady way to keep officials from knowing that evidence was obtained immediately. However, Harvey’s retort, that the evidence was kept quiet to determine whether or not any would-be copy-cats would be recognized immediately, is nothing short of brilliance. In fact, in this new spirit of crime-solving that Harvey has just found, he needs very little help from Gordon to complete the case. There was something very vintage murder mystery-esque that I loved about the episode. The clues were laid out and it took the work of a real gumshoe in Harvey Bullock to solve it. We’re even treated to the Bond villain-like confession and a final struggle, all before Bullock goes Wild Wild West on the bad guy, shooting her without probable cause and getting her goat (Ha!) in the nicest part of town. Now that’s the Harvey Bullock I know!

Now I'm standing uncomfortably close. Your move.
Now I’m standing uncomfortably close. Your move.

Hush Comics gives Gotham‘s “The Spirit of the Goat” an A- for it’s return to the roots that made it so special in the first place. Instead of a crazy meta-human mish-mash, we actually get a crime drama with a Batman-twist; Ed Brubaker proved it could work on paper with Gotham Central, and with more episodes like this, the producers of Gotham can make it work for television, too. With the skeleton (Penguin) finally out of the closet, this should make things plenty more interesting. There are some kinks that need to be worked out, such as: Selina Kyle’s useless cameos, Penguin’s mom and her demon purse, and Nygma’s obvious scream for attention (he needs himself an Amy Farrah Fowler). When you get right down to it, though, this week’s Gotham was very enjoyable, and it made me want to watch it again and review it, a feeling I haven’t had since the pilot.

No Fish Mooney = Best Gotham episode yet… Coincidence?

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

Gotham Review – “Arkham” S1E4

It’s really hard for me to realize that Gotham is so pre-Batman that what I expect/want/need out of it isn’t going to happen yet.  So when the episode was titled “Arkham” I was hoping for something closer to the video games.  But instead, we got an abandoned land that caused a turf war.  And why, other than the size of the land did that happen?  I’m not quite sure, but I do know that the only plot point driving this story forward at the moment is Oswald Cobblepot.

Even with that, it seemed very odd that the dishwasher, who was always being admonished, was promoted to the restaurant manager for keeping the money?  It seems that for a crime lord like Maroni, the money that Cobblepot saved would be a drop in the bucket compared to everything he had.  But, for a guy like Cobblepot, who has some smarts and some evil in him, its a good thing.  Honestly, I’m happy for him.  Is that weird?

Gotham - "Arkham"
Jim Gordon looks on wondering if the crime lords of Gotham have anything better to worry about than low income housing vs. a dump.

The “bad guy of the week” was the real star of this episode.  How could you not love Richard Gladwell?  He was acted well and did sinister so well. And his weapon was SO cool!  His weapon, although maybe in police custody right now, could be the addition to the umbrella that Penguin will eventually have. Richard Gladwell reminded me a lot of Jubal Early in Firefly.  What sucks about him is that he had to die in the dumbest way.  Getting shot from both sides seems really excessive police force.  But think of the possibilities of a guy like that running around Gotham?  He could have been a really good addition to the story line, but c’est la vie.

This week’s theme was all about war.  But what war?  A turf war over the Arkham land?  A war over who the real crime boss of Gotham was?  And the biggest thing that happened was a couple of politicians and a restaurant managers getting killed?  Yeah, I guess that could make national news, but I don’t care about any of it; the writers have given me no reason to care.  They didn’t even show Falcone in this episode.  I just don’t feel invested in what is going on in Gotham.  I have said earlier that this show could do well to take some advice from The Wire.  The world they have created is too large for the audience to really connect.  If they had started small and then gone bigger over time, I feel the story would be more successful.  Oh, and Sam Maroni’s victory steak that he ate in celebration over a compromise was pulled out of thin air.  And who eats steak like that?

Barbara Kean: manipulator, accuser, and all around bad girlfriend.
Barbara Kean: manipulator, accuser, and all around bad girlfriend.

“Arkham” solidified for me that none of the women in this show are likable.  Mooney is still way over the top. The “seduction” scene seemed like something only for fanboys who fap to women kissing.  And the girl fight scene near the end was proof that this was not a moment for story, but quite possible the start of The Fappening part 4.  Also, Mooney telling the singer Liza if she wants power and money, she has to seduce is basically saying that women can’t have both unless they use sex to get there.  The whole thing was just icky.  Then there is Barbara.  This is the most screen time we have gotten from Gordon’s wife/lover/girlfriend, but she is manipulative.  At the beginning she lets in a stranger.  Being a cop’s girlfriend would make her question that decision in actuality.  And then she used their relationship as an ultimatum for police business?  She doesn’t need to know police business.

And now for my rapid fire thoughts:

  • Bruce is in it because he has to be.  The motivational speech at the end was good, but unless we see Bruce grow into a real detective, it was worthless.
  • Nygma really likes his job.
  • Bullock is the worst cop ever.  He raided Gladwell’s desk without a warrant and used that as “evidence?”  Yeah, that’s totally illegal.
  • Jim finally called some shots to Bullock this episode.  It was fresh.
  • Does anyone else want a cannoli?

Hush Comics give “Arkham” a C for lack of development in characters, in story line, and for shoving promiscuous and badly written down our throats.  Ugh.

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

“Respect My Craft” – Gail Simone

In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of comic books, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.

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Name: Gail Simone

Profession: Writer

Notable Work: Batgirl (New 52), Birds of PreyTomb RaiderThe Movement (New 52)

“Right now there are so many wonderful female things in comics; characters, creators, commentators, editors, convention organizers, store owners and readers. They don’t threaten anything in the industry, they add to it.” – Gail Simone

When you make a list of top-tier writers in the comic book industry right now, Gail Simone should always be brought up. Her great dialog and story vision has made Batgirl and The Movement two of DC Comics most intriguing titles, and garnered a strong fan-base along the way. Simone’s beginning are far simpler than the juggernaut writer she has become, though. Simone began as a blogger – well, I suppose they weren’t really known as bloggers in the late 1990’s. Through Comic Book Resources, Simone wrote a periodical called “You’ll All Be Sorry!” with a group of collaborators, writing satirical stories (one of my favorites was the “Bizarro  Preacher” article, written on my birthday). The stories must have given her the courage to piss off a whole lot of people when she launched Women in Refrigerators in 1999.

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Women in Refrigerators was originally meant to poke fun at an industry flaw, not incite rage – the same way we hoot and holler when Laurel starts making pouty faces on Arrow, chastising it for being too “C-Dub.” Anyway, the joke behind WIR is that women are constantly being used at plot pieces for either the development of male characters, or the deconstruction of the female ones. This wasn’t just some wild accusation either. On the site, which looks a whole lot like a 90’s Geocities page I made when I was in junior high, had a whole list of characters that fit the bill of expendable women in comic books. The most shocking thing about the list of that many of these characters – Storm, Supergirl, Wonder Woman – are prominent characters in the comic book world. She may not have made many friends by openly criticizing the industry, but it’s where Simone got her first job in the industry.

This really happened in Green Lantern #54 (1994)
This really happened in Green Lantern #54 (1994)

She began writing for The Simpsons in 2000, and covered several outlets for them. From the main title, to a Bart-based and Treehouse of Horror mini-series to the Sunday morning comic strips in the papers, Gail Simone was breaking out in a big way. Her work on The Simpsons led her to a job with Marvel on the Deadpool and Agent X series, where she was able to show off her humorous side – which has always been a strong suit of hers. It wasn’t until Simone got a gig writing Birds of Prey that things really took off.

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It was with DC Comics that Simone would really get the opportunity to spread her wings. Spanning 52 (heh heh, DC loves its 52’s) issues from 2003-2007, the Birds of Prey are a group of crime-fighting women working as a team. At this point in the story, Barbara Gordon AKA Oracle is confined to the seat of a wheelchair after the grueling fallout of The Killing Joke. Physically limited, yes, but Oracle is one of the team’s most valuable assets with her technical savvy. After runs on Secret SixGen13Villains United and other short runs, Simone really turned heads with her long run on Wonder Woman and The All-New Atom. Even with all that under her belt, it wasn’t until her second run on Secret Six that Gail Simone was a name that made me a fan for life.

Princess Diana's sweet armor in Wonder Woman #28
Princess Diana’s sweet armor in Wonder Woman #28

The Secret Six are a ragtag group of villains, led by the likes of Bane, that try to work as a team on contract to kill another villain. Simone was able to breathe a lot of life into these characters, most of which were unknown to casual fans. In fact, before the New 52 relaunch, Secret Six was one of the most beloved books on the shelves. The way Simone was able to turn these despicable villains into misunderstood heroes. After 36 issues of Secret Six, the series was canceled and Simone was brought on to write the new Batgirl series.

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Batgirl has ben one of my favorite books, and it’s because of the development of Barbara Gordon. The Batgirl from the first few issues is hardly recognizable to the Batgirl in issue #28. I love that her character is strong, yet shows vulnerability to the reader. That’s the result you get when you have a writer who is as passionate about the characters she or he is writing about. In a time where DC was criticized for its a lack of diversity (out of all the New 52 books released in 2011, hers was the only one written by a woman), Batgirl gave all leaders a better sense of identity. Her other DC story, The Movement, is loosely based super-hero version of the Occupy movement – once again giving a voice to those who cannot do so themselves. Unfortunately, the series will be canceled after the 12th issue in May. Lately, Simone has expanded her scope to write for other publishers now that her exclusive deal with DC Comics has ended. She has been writing the new Red Sonja series, as well as a brand new Tomb Raider. She hasn’t stopped there, either; Simone will be heading the Savage Wolverine series starting in May.

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From Killer Princesses to her upcoming Kickstarter project, Leaving Megalopolis, Gail Simone writes women characters that are capable, intelligent, and convincing. Her career in the industry started very much the way ours has – just a group of awesome friends typing out their love for comic books. Gail Simone is constantly on the floor at comic book conventions, and engages her fans via social media (Twitter, Tumblr). It might have started out as a joke, but her Women in Refrigerators piece was great commentary on the industry’s need to represent women better. One woman can’t change the world view alone, but with a work ethic like hers, you have to respect her craft! 

Checked out her bibliography and still want more? Check this out:

Gail Simone lights up the social networking with her witty, honest and often hilarious Tweets.

You can find paperback collections of her “You’ll All Be Sorry” articles on Amazon for less than $5.

I wanted to point out that none of this art is mine; it is all credited to the original publishers (Marvel Comics & DC Comics) . Thanks for all the love and support for You Nerd Like A Girl. Look to us next week for more “Respect My Craft!,” featuring the industries most talented contributors.

Written by Sherif Elkhatib