It’s crazy that I’d never actually read 2001’s “The Doom that Came to Gotham” despite hearing about most of Batman’s stories. This re-imagining of the Batman lore is fantastic in that it meshes Batman with Old Century Gothic, and HP Lovecraft. This is about as close to HP Lovecraft as Batman’s ever gotten with a story that really is relentless in its bleak tone and vicious implementation of Lovecraftian monsters and beings. This is a threat that not even Batman is fully capable of handling.
Set in the 1920s, Bruce Wayne travels abroad for twenty years following the murder of his parents in his search for answers behind the criminal mind. But while investigating the disappearance of an expedition crew under Oswald Cobblepot, Bruce has an otherworldly experience that prompts a speedy return to Gotham City. His return triggers a series of events involving a mystery that stretches back to the founding of Gotham and of a cult led by the powerful Ra’s al Ghul. Batman, aided by his old friend Green Arrow, the Demon Etrigan, and James Gordon, battles supernatural forces in a desperate mission to save Gotham.
I have to say that while I wasn’t too aware that “The Doom That Came to Gotham” was a re-imagining of the Batman lore, I didn’t expect it to be so radical. Bruce Wayne is literally a globe trotting explorer, and he has a trio of young assistants including Dick Grayson, Sanjay “Jay” Tawde, and Ka Li Caine, all of whom provide some sense of support for the eventual Dark Knight. The writers re-introduce a ton of elements in to the Gotham landscape and do it quite well, offering such radical versions. The camp and super heroism is gone in favor of a very horror oriented tale about ancient gods, zombies, demons, octopus monsters, and even a potential Eldritch horror.
The narrative is kept very firmly a personal tale about inner demons as well as outer demons as the writers connect Bruce Wayne, Oliver Queen, and Harvey Dent as affluent offspring of ancestors that garnered their wealth through unholy methods. This make is a very intimate quest for the trio, all of whom play their own unique roles in the uncovering of this horrible legacy and the downfall of 1920’s Gotham. I really did love the new visions of Batman’s Rogues including Killer Croc, Penguin, and Mr. Freeze who is presented as a maniacal disciple of Ra’s Al Ghul.
Even Poison Ivy and Two Face are re-imagined in such a sick and sadistic manner that it’s pretty startling. The sleek animation is complimented by the stellar voice cast that includes David Dastmalchian, Jeffrey Combs (of course!), Karan Brar, Patrick Fabian, and Christopher Gorham, respectively. I was especially a fan of David Giuntoli’s take on The Dark Knight, playing well with the dual personalities of an adventurous aristocrat forced in to combat as The Dark Knight. “The Doom That Came to Gotham” is such a bizarre, albeit entertaining twist on the Batman mythology and one that mixes Lovecraft and Bill Finger’s characters in to such a memorable bit of animated horror.