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ConnectiCon is this week and the only reason I’m doing an article today is that I don’t want to wait two weeks. I’ll be lucky if I have time for a Friday Night Fight. Batman: The Animated Bible will return in two weeks since next week is ConnectiCon footage. So we’ll discuss the supporting cast in two weeks and the villains in three weeks. This week it’s the Gotham City PD.

Had Gotham been about the cops dealing with crazies and only occasionally crossing paths with the Bat crew that would have been fine. They don’t even have to appear on the show, just make it about the police dealing with lesser criminals and show they aren’t helpless without someone in a mask. Instead it’s a prequel showing how all of Batman’s villains, even the ones near his age who are somehow way older now, brought Gotham down or something. I’ll pass.

There is potential as they broke out beyond just being background characters. The show bible lists only three of the cops–Commissioner Gordon (obviously), Harvey Bullock, and original character Renee Montoya…who DC brought in and ruined. I’ll get to her soon enough. Let’s start with the only other character that has been in the franchise from the first issue besides Bruce Wayne and “the Bat-Man”.

World weary and politically uncorruptable, middle-aged Commissioner Gordon is loved by the law-abiding populace of Gotham and hated by its criminal element. A pipe smoking Irishman who is both tough and fair, Gordon has been a cop all his life, working his way up from beat cop to Detective Sergeant and finally Captain.

Well, not all his life. I think you have to at least be old enough to be out of diapers before going to the police academy. 😀

Hoping to make him more amenable to police corruption, the crooked former mayor of Gotham “kicked him upstairs” with an appointment to Commissioner, but the plot backfired. Gordon forever endeared himself to the public and the patrol cops by walking into his first day on the job in his patrolman’s dress uniform, sending a clear signal to the administrative “suits” that he was not one of them.

This is something I don’t remember seeing in the show but I might have forgotten it. If not, it’s one of things I mentioned in the beginning of this series, that sometimes the show bible will have information we don’t see on screen but gives the writers some idea as to the character’s personality and personal history. Gordon is an ideal cop at a time and place where they were hard to find. He wants to make the city and the police better.

He still holds uniform beat cops in special regard, which fosters resentment among both the plainclothes cops and city politicians. Despite the turmoil around him, Gordon is a compassionate man, and believes in the intrinsic good of human nature. Nevertheless, he’s a pragmatist and knows that he must be unsparingly tough on violent crime, but is equally adept at choosing which battles to fight and when. He knows that in a city as big as Gotham, there must be some give and take.

Again, this speaks to Gordon’s character as a person and as a fictional character they will be writing. He is the perfect man to ally with Batman and Robin. The next paragraph talks about him being blue-collar and not being able to publicly condone Batman’s methods…even though he’s done so in the series more than once, or at least defended his actions or pointed out when another vigilante, say the Phantasm, can’t possibly be Batman because Batman doesn’t kill. I want to skip right to the paragraph after as it suggest something that was also dropped in the series, but I feel would have been the wrong way to go.

Never one to suffer fools gladly, Gordon is uncomfortable with politicking, although he often finds himself rubbing elbows with Gotham’s rich and powerful. Because of this, Gordon often comes into contact with Bruce Wayne. Gordon feels that Wayne is an irresponsible playboy and never says more to him than necessary. The Batman’s respect and admiration for Gordon must always be hidden when disguised in the Bruce Wayne charade, for Batman knows that if Wayne and Gordon were to be friends, Gordon would surely guess his alter ego. The only friendship that can exist is that of Gordon and The Batman.

Possibly the best Jim Gordon outside of comics.

Possibly the best Jim Gordon outside of comics.

In the comics Gordon and Bruce were friends before the former crossed paths with Batman. In fact, this series, much like Gotham later, would have Gordon there to comfort Bruce and promise to find his parents’ killer, a promise that he was sadly unable to keep in this show. I get that Gordon is smart enough to make the connection if Kevin Conroy wasn’t so good at making the two personas look and act so different. But this show did a lot to humanize the Bruce Wayne alter ego and it makes sense that Gordon at least has some respect for Wayne as he does donate to charity. (As I said, I don’t like the “use dummy companies to hide charity donations” thing. Bruce is better doing what he can out of costume to better the city, which would ultimately reduce crime as much as a man in a costume coming to smack you around for busting into a jewelry store after hours.) So I’m glad someone softened Gordon and Bruce’s relationship in the series.

The bible takes this time to mention, in passing, Barbara sneaking out to become Batgirl. Oddly we won’t see her in the show until season two. There’s also a brief mention of her, with character model, near the end of the bible.

Then we get into the next section featuring original character Renee Montoya, one of those beat officers Gordon likes so much. You may know her from the comics as a detective in the GCPD (and later the new Question) or from Gotham as an internal affairs investigator, but DC’s comic writers must not have used the bible when they brought her into the main DC. They’re as different as night and day.

Like Bruce Wayne, Renee Montoya lost someone near her to Gotham’s criminal element. Her husband, also a police officer, was killed two years ago in the line of duty. She has continued on as a “legitimate” crime fighter. She grew up in Gotham’s Crime Alley and saw, first hand, what criminal lifestyles did to people. Young, tough, and cynical, with a dry sense of humor, she holds a grudging respect for the Batman, but has mixed emotions about his vigilantism. Nevertheless, they often find themselves thrown together as allies, and Batman’s knowledge of her past causes him to be particularly fond of her.

She even looks more likable than her other versions. Typical modern DC.

She even looks more likable than her other versions. Typical modern DC.

I emphasized the big changes. This wasn’t even an attempt to hide possible lesbianism, like with Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy later (or that may be perception, but when even I can see it, it may be intentional) or sneaking Maggie Sawyer’s girlfriend into the finale of Superman: The Animated Series. Renee was straight from the start and it was only DC who made her gay for some reason. Had this been the biggest change, however, I would laugh at it and move on. This isn’t biggest problem I have with what DC did to her. It’s her personality.

I don’t think I have any images of her but I’ve seen postings at scans_daily and other sites. Renee isn’t just tough and cynical, she’s downright pissed on a regular basis. In fact, I have yet to see anything with her in it past the DCAU in which she wasn’t angry, snarky, and just plain rude. Going to Gotham again, she actually pursues the wife of the man he’s investigating (namely Gordon’s) while being a general (pardon my language) bitch the rest of the time. I hate the Renee Montoya from the comics and later TV show. She’s missing everything that makes Montoya so likable. Kind of like Harley Quinn, really. Do they even understand why they were fan favorites?

She hates Bruce Wayne and everything he stands for. Inclined to spend off-duty time in volunteer work for St. Joan’s Catholic Church, she believe that Wayne is selfish and deaf to the cries of Gotham’s poor. She wishes she had kids and has a real soft spot for them, as well as a strong dedication to her family.

I don’t remember Montoya and Bruce ever really interacting, but I wonder how she’d react when she learned his parents were killed in Crime Alley, the area she grew up in? Also, Bruce was a bit more open in helping orphans and the city in the show (not a lot but more than the bible seems to have wanted) so I wonder if she still hates him that much?

Despite her cynical facade, she has idealistically sworn herself to work within the confines of the law, and unfortunately finds herself at odds with Batman’s methods. She secretly dreads the day that she might be faced with the task of having to arrest the Batman.

On the other hand, Harry Bullock would just as soon shoot Batman as arrest him. A rogue detective who gets results, he employs some of the same scare tactics as The Batman…and then some.

Batman TAB Bullock

A face only his mother doesn’t want to punch.

I love that segue. And that’s not my typo. The bible refers to him as Harry, not Harvey. In the summaries he’s called Harvey, and now I’m curious to see when the change happened and why.

Crass, unkempt, and genuinely unpleasant to be around, Bullock has few close friends on the force, beyond this loose gang of toadies. He has a mercilessly cruel sense of humor and sees himself as a real “guy’s guy”– a loud sports nut who always has a filthy joke to tell. Despite all this, he is not stupid, He is cunning, shrewd, and able to think like a crook. Perhaps because he gets results, there is something intriguing about the guy. You can’t take your eyes off of him, maybe out of disbelief.

Or maybe because he’s one of the best examples of the guy you love to hate. Bullock is fun to watch and you only want to see him succeed because he’s a good guy, granted on a technicality. I don’t know if Bullock so much wants to protect people as beat up bad guys, or maybe it’s because he can get away with beating up on bad guys because nobody likes them?

Believing his badge is a legal license to break the rules, he resents Batman as an unauthorized meddler who is muscling in on his territory. Down deep, he’s probably irked that nobody screams “police brutality” at Batman, like they do to him. But Bullock’s good enough to stay just inside the law, where the knee-jerks and superiors can’t touch him. Despite Gordon’s dislike of Bullock, he is, in the Mayor’s words, “a necessary blunt instrument”. The Batman doesn’t agree.

One thing that’s interesting after reading this is realizing that Gordon and Bullock do end up respecting each other at some point. The Commissioner does earn the respect of the other non-corrupt cops and when Gordon is shot and nearly dies Bullock surprisingly didn’t write him off but honestly wanted to bring in the guy who shot him. It’s good that the supporting cast grew along with the main ones.

In two weeks it’s the reporter and the mayor, two recurring characters who do make an impact on the series.

About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

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