Back in the 90s, bored by the interminable crossover events of The Death and Return of Superman and Knightfall, I discovered DC’s Elseworlds series and was hooked. Who cares about a half-robot Superman wannabe or some religious dude in a dumb-looking metal suit when I could enjoy Batman becoming a vampire in Batman & Dracula: Red Rain, a Communist Superman in Red Son or the weird alt-DC Universe of JLA: The Nail?
One of the best of these was also the first: Brian Augustin and Mike Mignola’s excellent Batman: Gotham by Gaslight, which transposes Bruce Wayne/Batman to the late 19th century and has him tangle with Jack the Ripper (and was subsequently ranked as the 11th greatest Batman graphic novel of all-time). Now, it’s been adapted by Warner Bros, Animation and to whet our appetites, they’ve just released a new clip (courtesy of IGN) that proves, if nothing else, Victorian Batman doesn’t pull his punches.
In the video above, we see him saving some street urchins from their bruiser gang lord, whose brawny street-fightin’, knuckle-dusterin’ style is no match for Batman’s martial arts skills. While the fight is largely what you’d expect from an animated Bat feature, it’s the final moments that mark this version of the Caped Crusader as different from his modern counterpart.
After taking down the boss, the urchins quite reasonably point out that they’ve got nowhere else to go and that this guy is merely going to chase them down again as soon as he’s able. Batman solves that particular problem by smashing the thug’s leg, crippling him for life.
It’s a pretty brutal moment, more reminiscent of Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns than any other version of the character. It also speaks to a film that’s certainly not holding back on the violence. That probably bodes well for a story involving Victorian grime and criminality, and the crimes of a deranged serial killer. On top of that, it also marks the project as an animated feature to watch out for.
Batman: Gotham By Gaslight is set to be released on January 23 on Digital HD, with the Blu-ray and DVD releases following on February 6th. If you’re interested, you can pre-order it off Amazon now.