With almost a half dozen new comic book shows getting series orders from their respective networks, the 2014-2015 TV season will absolutely obliterate the record for “most Marvel and DC shows on television at the same time.” Earlier this week, Fox’s “Gotham” became the first of this new batch of shows — which also includes “iZombie,” “Constantine,” “Flash,” and “Agent Carter” — to debut footage of the series. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you should really fix that problem.
For a series purposefully set before Batman’s reign of justice, the show sure doesn’t seem to be shying away from including a ton of characters from the DC Universe. Riddler, Penguin, Poison Ivy, and Catwoman are all name-dropped in the trailer, and Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock steal focus as “Gotham’s” version of buddy cops. The show’s fall premiere date is still months away, which might come as a bummer to those who want their “Gotham” right now. To hold you over, here’s a reading list of DC Comics that explore “Gotham’s” origins.
Batman: Year One
Since “Gotham” focuses on Jim Gordon, this choice seems almost like a no-brainer. Told through Gordon’s eyes in his first days with the GCPD, this highly influential story by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli redefined the caped crusader’s origin and his relationship with the upcoming drama’s titular city. The story even reimagined Catwoman for the modern age, giving her an updated origin that we might see on the series. While Bruce Wayne’s still a decade away from donning the tights on “Gotham,” pretty much every other element from “Batman: Year One” seems like it’s found its way into the TV show.
The Man Who Laughs
This graphic novel by Ed Brubaker and Doug Mahnke updates Batman’s very first encounter with the Joker, a story first published almost sixty-five years prior to this one, and acts as an unofficial follow-up to Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s “The Killing Joke.” Both of these graphic novels focus on the clown prince of crime’s origin story, from his early days as the Red Hood to his maniacal debut as the Joker. Unlike “Killing Joke,” “Man Who Laughs” is a complete flashback tale with no cutaways to the present day — much like “Gotham” will be. After seeing how many of Batman’s rogues will factor into the pilot episode, it wouldn’t surprise us to see the Joker pop up sooner rather than later.
Ed Brubaker and Cameron Stewart did phenomenal work fleshing out Selina Kyle in her ongoing series from the early ’00s, and they brought her past back to torment her in “Relentless.” Catwoman relives some haunting elements from her past as she tries to rid her home turf of crime in the present; making matters worse, the mob boss Black Mask kidnaps Catwoman’s sister, making Selina’s crusade against crime even more personal. We already know a pre-Catwoman Selina Kyle will play a pivotal role in “Gotham,” so we hope they take cues from some of her best stories.
A Bullet For Bullock
Jim Gordon’s not the only cop getting attention in “Gotham”; Donal Logue will play classic Batman supporting character Harvey Bullock on the show, marking the character’s — believe it or not — first ever foray into live-action. To get a better understanding of this complicated cop, you should check out “Detective Comics” #651 by Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan. With an unknown criminal making constant attempts on Bullock’s life, the curmudgeonly cop has to turn to Batman for help figuring out who’s targeting him — all while trying to downplay his association with dark knight. The story was adapted into an episode of “Batman: The Animated Series,” but if you want to see Harvey in all of his Hawaiian shirt and plaid pants-wearing glory, you have to track down this fan favorite done-in-one comic.
Thanks to the similar title and the show’s focus on the cops over capes, many have assumed “Gotham” would be adapting the critically acclaimed and much beloved comic book series “Gotham Central.” While that doesn’t appear to be the case just yet, fans excited by the prospect of seeing cops deal with super criminals in primetime will be blown away by this series from the mid-’00s. With no-nonsense crime plots and captivating character work, creators Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark created a nearly perfect comic book series — one whose shadow “Gotham” will desperately try to escape from. Pick up any storyarc of this series and find out what all the fuss is about.
“Gotham” airs Mondays this Fall on Fox.
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