Gotham by Gaslight

Gotham by Gaslight (February 1989). Art by Mike Mignola.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
Format One-shot
Genre Steampunk, superhero
Publication date February 1989
Number of issues 1
Main character(s) Batman
Creative team
Writer(s) Brian Augustyn
Artist(s) Mike Mignola
Inker(s) P. Craig Russell
Editor(s) Mark Waid
Collected editions
Gotham by Gaslight ISBN 0-930289-67-6
Gotham by Gaslight (inc. Master of the Future) ISBN 1-4012-1153-4

Gotham by Gaslight is a DC Comics one-shot by Brian Augustyn and Mike Mignola, with inks by P. Craig Russell. It spawned a sequel, Master of the Future (1991), also written by Augustyn, but with art by Eduardo Barreto.

Although not originally labeled as such, 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. Subsequent printings have included the "Elseworlds" logo.


In 1889, Bruce Wayne is on a tour of Europe. His trip to Europe ends in Vienna, where he has come to learn from Dr. 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 who he calls Uncle Jake, who 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.

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 in prison, Gordon gives Bruce 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 was killing women who resemble Martha to silence the laughter of Martha he heard in his head.

Packer reveals that he hired an assassin to kill the Waynes. 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.

Master of the Future

In the sequel, set in 1892, Batman must battle Alexandre LeRoi, who is seeking to disrupt Gotham's turn-of-the-century celebrations.


Main article: Countdown to Final Crisis

After the events of Identity Crisis, the Atom (whose estranged-wife was revealed as the villain) spent DC's missing year out of the limelight. In the weekly-sequel to the weekly event 52, Countdown, the Source Wall names Palmer as a key figure in impending DC Universe events. The search for Ray Palmer began in the Wildstorm Universe, and soon crossed onto the new 52 worlds created during the course of Infinite Crisis.

The first of these was called Countdown Presents: The Search for Ray Palmer: Gotham by Gaslight (January 2008) and was written by Gotham by Gaslight's original author, Brian Augustyn, relishing his chance to return to the world he had created.[1] The story saw Bob the Monitor accompany Jason Todd, Donna Troy, and Kyle Rayner (the latter three inhabitants of "New Earth") through the multiverse in search of multiuniversal counterparts to Ray Palmer. The group stopped on Earth-19, the Earth where the Batman of the earlier two Elseworlds storylines acted. There, they also encountered this Earth's counterpart of Blue Beetle and Man-Bat before they went to the next Earth for their continuing search.

Their search would take them to worlds populated by characters from other Elseworlds stories, including those seen in the Batman & Dracula trilogy (Earth-43) and Superman: Red Son (Earth-30).

Publication history

Gotham by Gaslight, the first official (although un-identified as such) Elseworlds publication, was initially released as a 52-page one-shot in February 1989. It was written by Brian Augustyn and pencilled by Mike Mignola, with inks by P. Craig Russell. Two years later, the 68-page sequel Batman: Master of the Future — also written by Augustyn, but with art by Eduardo Barreto — was released, this time officially labelled an Elseworlds publication.

In 2006, in the wake of the DC event Infinite Crisis (which reshuffled the DC Multiverse), DC editorial allocated the Gotham by Gaslight world the label "Earth-19". Prior to its appearance in Countdown Presents: The Search for Ray Palmer: Gotham by Gaslight (January 2008), the two one-shot issues were collected into one 112-page trade paperback volume (which was released under the same name, and with the same Mignola cover as the one-shot release).

Collected editions

The two stories have been collected into a trade paperback.

  • Gotham by Gaslight, August 2006, DC Comics, ISBN 1-4012-1153-4 (Titan Books, ISBN 1-84576-403-X), collects:
    • Gotham by Gaslight, 48 pages, DC Comics, November 1989, ISBN 0-930289-67-6 (Titan Books, December 1989, ISBN 1-85286-265-3)
    • Master of the Future, 63 pages, DC Comics, December 1991, ISBN 1-56389-015-1

Critical reaction

IGN Comics ranked Gotham by Gaslight #13 on a list of the 25 greatest Batman graphic novels, saying that the comic is "as taut and well-conceived a graphic novel as you can find — Elseworlds or otherwise." The website added, "Quite simply, no other Elseworlds tale has managed such a brilliant concept nor executed it so perfectly." Gotham by Gaslight was not the highest-ranking Elseworlds story on the list, however, as Batman & Dracula: Red Rain ranked higher at #9.[2]

Video game

A video game based on the comic book was planned for release by Day 1 Studios (who also developed Fear 3) however, after THQ failed to secure the rights to the property, the game was canceled.[3] The developers released some concept art which revealed the game had a steampunk feel to it while being set in Victorian England and also test footage was released which revealed the misty Gothic settings and the character model for Batman.

Not much is known about the plot, though it could be assumed that it would be similar to the comic book storyline, with some added story elements. So far, reception to the leaked footage and concept art has been positive, with viewers praising the setting, the cape physics and the different approach the developers were trying to achieve.[4]

Gaslight Batman is one of the champions of the new DC game Infinite Crisis due in 2013. Additionally, a Gaslight Joker and Gaslight Catwoman, original to the game but originating on the same alternate Earth, are also included as champions.

Batman: Arkham Origins' Season Pass will include an exclusive Gotham by Gaslight skin for Batman.

See also

Other Elseworlds that involve Jack the Ripper:


External links

Category:Jack the Ripper in fiction

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