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Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is a graphic novel by Brian Augustyn, Mike Mignola and P. Craig Russell. Set in Gilded Age/Victorian Gotham, it focuses on Batman as he investigates the serial killer Jack the Ripper. Although not originally labeled as such at release, Gotham by Gaslight is considered to be the first Elseworlds story, where DC Comics heroes are taken out of their usual setting and put into alternate timelines or realities. The series was later followed by a direct sequel Master of the Future.

Plot

The book features Batman in 1889, fighting Jack the Ripper when the serial killer comes to Gotham City. Unfortunately, one of the main suspects is Bruce Wayne himself. The cast includes Lt. Jim Gordon, Alfred Pennyworth, and Princess Julie Madison. The Joker makes a cameo appearance as a blue beard who tries to kill himself with Strychnine but is left with a paralyzed rictus grin.

Synopsis

In 1889, Bruce Wayne is on a tour of Europe which ends in Vienna. There, he is studying under Dr. Sigmund Freud. Bruce tells Freud that he has a recurring dream in which he recalls the murder of his parents and decides he must return to Gotham City. On the return trip, Bruce meets Jacob Packer, an old family friend whom he calls Uncle Jake, who has also returned from a trip to Europe.

Shortly after arriving, Inspector Gordon informs Wayne about criminal gangs currently operating in Gotham. Gordon also shows Bruce the case of a man who poisoned his wife and tried to commit suicide with the poison, which left him alive with a permanent grin. Bruce takes up the mantle of Batman to fight criminals on the street.

At the same time, a series of murders of women take place and some people begin to suspect that Batman is the murderer. It is soon discovered that Jack the Ripper has come to Gotham, as the murders in Gotham City seem to resemble the Ripper murders in London.

After a search of Wayne Manor, a bloody knife is found under Bruce's bed and Bruce is arrested. A trial is held in which Uncle Jake is Bruce's defense attorney. After the trial, Bruce is convicted of being the Ripper and sentenced to be hanged for his crimes. Bruce is imprisoned in Arkham Asylum.

Once Bruce is in prison, Gordon gives him all the documentation on the crimes. Bruce toils day and night to try to figure out how he can get the Ripper. Just one day before the execution, Bruce learns the identity of the Ripper by discovering he had the skill of a surgeon and used a knife that belonged to the medical group who worked with his father. Bruce escapes from prison with the help of Alfred and heads straight for the Ripper.

Batman interrupts the Ripper as he is about to claim his next victim. Batman chases the Ripper throughout Gotham and the two eventually come to a stop at the grave of Thomas and Martha Wayne, where it is revealed that Jacob Packer is the Ripper. Packer had been trained in medicine and law with the money of Thomas Wayne, but he was driven insane by Martha Wayne's rejection of his advances. Since then, he had been killing women who resembled Martha to silence the laughter of Martha he heard in his head.

Packer reveals that he hired an assassin to kill Bruce's parents. Gordon appears at this time with the police and Batman tells them to arrest Packer. Packer confesses that he is the Ripper and tries to kill Batman, but Gordon shoots Packer dead at the last minute. Batman disappears into the shadows, leaving Gordon to take in the body of Jack the Ripper.

Appearances

  • Batman (Earth-19)
  • Jack the Ripper
  • James Gordon (Earth-19)
  • Alfred Pennyworth (Earth-19)
  • Julie Madison (Earth-19)
  • The Joker (Earth-19)
  • Double Man (Earth-19)
  • Thomas Wayne (Earth-19)
  • Martha Wayne (Earth-19)
  • Joe Chill (Earth-19)
  • Commissioner Tolliver (Earth-19)

Publication

Gaslight ad

DC house ad

Initially released as a 52-page one-shot, Gotham by Gaslight serves as the first story in the Elseworlds publication. However, it was not labeled or marketed as such. The story was heavily inspired by the real-life serial killer Jack the Ripper, with the series initially published on the 100th anniversary of his murders. The series even features the infamous "From Hell" letter, which was allegedly written by the killer. The series also features several references to actual Jack the Ripper suspects, including Walter Sickert and Prince Albert Victor.

Legacy

Follow-Ups

The events of Gotham by Gaslight have been followed up in several ways since its publication. This first was in the 1992 graphic novel Batman: Master of the Future, which serves as a direct sequel and is set three years after Gaslight's events. The story sees Batman battling the airship pirate Alexandre LeRoi, who is seeking to disrupt Gotham's Turn-of-the-Century celebrations. The story is similar to the film Master of the World, a film which was based on Jules Verne's Robur the Conqueror and The Master of the World.

The Gaslight Universe is also revisited in DC's Countdown event, where it is visited by Jason Todd, Donna Troy, Kyle Rayner and Bob the Monitor whilst searching for Ray Palmer. The series canonized and visited several universes seen in other Elseworlds prints, including those seen in the Batman & Dracula trilogy (Earth-43) and Superman: Red Son (Earth-30). It also gave the Gaslight Universe the designation of Earth-19.

The Gaslight Universe also appears during the Convergence event, with it appearing in Convergence: Shazam! #2. The issue sees Batman teaming up with Shazam to take on Mister Atom, Mister Mind and Gaslight versions of his rogues gallery.

In Other Media

  • In the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "The Trials of the Demon" after Jim Craddock's magic ruins Batman's costume, Etrigan changes the costume into the Gotham by Gaslight suit.
  • In the season pass of Batman: Arkham Origins, the Gotham by Gaslight costume is featured as one of the downloadable suits.
  • An animated film based on the comic was released in 2018. However, the film changes many aspects, including the plot, characters involved, and the identity of "Jack the Ripper".

Notes

Other Elseworlds stories involve Jack the Ripper and offer different explanations to the killer's identity. These include:

External links

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