Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Comics Blah Blah Comics: Gotham - Doomed to Failure?

No, I don't mean the TV show, Gotham, is doomed to fall in the ratings or not be well received. So far the early numbers are encouraging, there's a lot of positive buzz around the show and the cast seems to be quite adept at bringing their roles as the good, the bad and the ugly of Gotham City to life. 

The idea of an entire series dedicated to a super hero origin is not a new one. Smallville paved the way for that premise by dedicating 10 years to making Clark Kent, formerly Kal-El of Krypton, into Superman. By the end, mind you, almost everybody and their mother was wearing a costume except for Clark. Still, something must've worked because, well, 10 years, guys. That's an astonishing run in modern television. 

So the idea of adapting this paradigm to the Batman mythos which is arguably more popular than Superman right now would be too tempting to ignore. And the very idea of the city of Gotham itself as the centerpiece of this drama is very enticing. Gotham is dark and terrible city where seriously damaged people are trying to make a difference in their lives and for some, also in the lives of others. 

But while the concept has an undeniable appeal and may be just the long term successful drama that Fox has been looking for since the heyday of the X -Files and 24., there is a serious concern that sits at the core of Gotham the TV show. A flaw, if you will. And it centers around Jim Gordon

The development of Jim Gordon, from street cop to detective to commissioner, has been a major factor in the Batman mythos since Frank Miller split the spotlight between Bruce Wayne & Jim Gordon in Batman: Year One. Gordon's struggles and triumphs as he tries to be a good cop in a bad city parallels the journey of Bruce Wayne. We've seen this echoed in the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy and was revisited in Scott Snyder's Zero Year. 

But the thing to remember is this: as good a man as Gordon is or at least tries to be, he's still fighting a losing battle against the darkness of Gotham's evil and it's madness. It's not until the weirdo dressed up like a bat enters the picture does the tide turn for Gordon. And on the flip side of that, as Gordon's hope for this city and its future becomes stronger because of the Batman, Batman himself gains a significant ally in Gordon, without whom Batman's mission would've been doomed from the start. 

But until the Bat shows up, what then? Jim Gordon and his stalwart band of allies may have the occasional success against the corruption of the Gotham Police Department and the strange and vicious criminals who lurk in and burst out from the dark.  But we know how this story ends, don't we? We're not building towards a utopia wrought from the blood and sweat of honest men and women. No, we're building towards a cesspool that's just going to darker and more corrupt until there is no hope of salvation unless someone does something really crazy. 

Like dress up like a bat, for instance.  

And that's not going to happen anytime soon. The events of the pilot episode center around the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne; young Bruce is still very young indeed. So poor Jim Gordon along with Harvey Bullock and the rest are just going to have to get their asses kicked for, what, 10 years maybe? 

Snell on Twitter posited the same position as seen here: 

  Sep 23
The problem with Gotham is that its central premise is failure. We KNOW that Gordon doesn't succeed in cleaning up GCPD.

One commenter noted that it's less about failure and more about treading water until the Batman can come in and take care of business. To me, that the same difference. One view may be less kind than the other but both ultimately mean the same thing: Jim Gordon can't win. And that's a bit of a burden for a character and TV show to carry. I think Gotham can make the most of its premise. It certainly has the talent to succeed in that regard. But the question becomes how long can we keep watching Gordon and pals beating their collective heads against the wall of corruption that is Gotham? 

Everyone, be good to one another, OK?

I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You

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