As I discussed in my review of Gotham: The Complete Third Season, DC hasn’t always had the best track record when it’s come to taking its most popular, famous and kick ass character the one and only Batman (I said it Superman deal with it!) from the comic pages to the screen however there is one place where they have a roaring run and that is in their cartoons.
From the magnificent Batman: The Animated Series in the early 90’s and the movie that sprang from it Batman: Mask of the Phantasm which perfectly captured Batman in his prime (and gave us one of the best Joker’s in Mark Hamill insane interpretation) onto Batman Beyond in the 2000’s which put a whole new twist on the future of the dark knight, animation has always been the world which worked when it came to capturing the caped crusader.
This has continued with the string of sensational DC Universe Animated Original Movies a series of direct-to-video film projects being created by Warner Bros and DC Comics including the 2011 adaptation of Frank Miller’s great and gritty Batman: Year One and the Justice League: Gods and Monsters which takes place in an alternate universe where Batman is a superhuman pseudo-vampire.
The key has been original ideas, be they from superb script writers of inspirational source material such as the latest Batman: Gotham By Gaslight adapted from the landmark one-shot Elseworlds tale by Brian Augustyn and Mike Mignola. What’s the plot I hear you cry? Its Batman versus Jack the Ripper, do you need any more than that? I didn’t think so!
Okay for those that haven’t stopped reading instantly and opened a new tab to buy this brilliant Blu-ray from their favorite online retailer I will flesh out the story some more. Set at the turn of the century Gotham is all set to host a World’s Fair to show the populace the wonders of the industrial revolution and the technological advances it has brought in.
Nevertheless there is a much darker side to the city as the streets run red with the blood of several street walkers and showgirls all brutally murdered by a maniac named Jack the Ripper. Police Commissioner James Gordon is over stretched and clueless and the rich city council seems uncaring due to the low value they ascribe to Jack’s poverty stricken and powerless victims.
All this leaves only one man left to stop the psycho and that man is Batman aka rich philanthropist Bruce Wayne. The masked vigilante gifted with superior sleuthing skills and gadgets galore is on the case but can the world’s greatest detective decipher one of the most famous unsolved murder cases in history? You will have to watch and find out.
Drenched in dark Victorian era grime Gotham City is a great setting for a twist of the legendary murders of Jack the Ripper and the story seamlessly blends in all the most popular characters from the Batman canon into this entertaining and exciting animation.
Aside from the obvious aids such as Gordon and Chief Bullock we have Harvey Dent as Bruce Wayne’s ambitious but duplicitous playboy friend, Hugo Strange running Arkham Asylum while obsessing over the killer and even three of the most famous Robin’s here named Dickie, Jason and Timmy, appearing as street urchins roped in by Alfred to help out.
The action is amazing, the fights are fantastic and the murders are far nastier then may be expected for a cartoon but exactly right for the story. Gory and graphic as any Jack the Ripper story should be Gotham By Gaslight also takes on some heavy themes not only in the disregard the wealthy have for the poor derelicts and waifs being casually slayed but also in the figure of stage actress Selina Kyle and her modern attitudes. A fierce believer in suffrage and women’s rights, as well as a cat lover, she puts her whip by her word in defending Gotham’s girls against Jack going up against him on a couple of occasions.
Featuring and incredible voice cast Gotham By Gaslight is a scintillating Steampunk reworking of Batman coupled with the inspired idea of pitting the legendary super hero against the infamous real life serial killer creating a terrific tale of violence and vengeance that will entertain comic and horror fans alike.