A second look at new Batman writer James Tynion IV’s newsletter, to follow up on his Luke and Lucius Fox musings, reveals much about Gotham City – and its police. Is this Gotham City or is this Judge Dredd? Or maybe even HBO Watchmen? He writes (emphasis mine),
After the events of City of Bane, Gotham City is rebuilding.
That rebuilding should be part of the spirit of the city itself in 2020. There are strange metal spires and scaffolding jutting out into the air. There are spotlights all over the city, as construction continues 24 hours a day. The clangs of industrial jackhammers lend a new dark music to the city. Gotham feels like it’s in the midst of a metamorphosis, change is in the air. There are giant cranes and spotlights everywhere, the way it all juts into the sky it feels like a claustrophobic nightmare… You can’t tell where one building stops and another begins. A kind of eerie, industrial fog drifts through the city at all hours. The skies of Gotham are a dark, eerie red. It always feels like night-time. The city itself should be juxtapositions of strange Art-Deco insanity by way of Anton Furst and Tim Burton, and sleek modern towers that somehow look MORE frightening. Strange high tech skyscraper cathedrals, complete with sleek modern gargoyles.
It’s a new industrial age in the city, and people are walking around covering their mouths to not breathe in the smog. Construction dust falls like snow around the city. It’s a strange and isolating place. Weirdly, I’d think of the people of Gotham City as “under construction” in their own way. I’ll be calling this out in the scripts, but I see more people with casts and leg braces. People damaged, but trying to heal. Even the way people wrap their faces to move through the streets is a kind of “bandaging”.
The Police have also been upgraded to something more ever-present and frightening. They are wearing SWAT style armor and carrying military grade assault weapons. Their faces are covered by swat helmets, and their cars are armored and plated. Detectives are still operating in plainclothes, but they look like odd men out and feel pushed out by the new generation of officers on the streets who want to wield the heavy GCPD gear and the power it represents. These cops are meant to instill order, but they feel like the harbinger of a darker future around the corner. Jim Gordon is no longer Police Commissioner. Instead we have HARVEY BULLOCK operating as an overworked, overstressed political appointee. He’s unnerved by the changing police force around him, but is powerless to stop it.
Gotham is not New York City. It is a nightmare of New York City. It shouldn’t feel like a real city, it should feel like GOTHAM. It’s the grime and grit of the 1970s and 80s in a world where the city never got cleaned up, but kept growing. Now it needs to become something new… But the eerie sense needs to be that it might become something even more horrifying than before. We’re creating a present day dystopia that will serve as the bridge to what’s next. Every element of it should be visually dynamic and exciting.
Batman #85 featuring a first glimpse of Tynion and MArch’s run, is published in a week. Batman #86 and #87 will be out in January from DC Comics. Here’s a glimpse of artwork from Guillem March…