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Review of Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham

Seth Tomko is a writer, college-level educator, and adventurer.

Cover to Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham, art by Mike Mignola.

Cover to Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham, art by Mike Mignola.

The Doom of Our Time

After 20 years away and a recent rescue mission to a research site in Antarctica, Bruce Wayne return Gotham in 1928. The city is different than he remembers and not just because of the normal passage of time. Unnatural followers of The Lurker on the Threshold are gathering because the time is ripe to for the return of their ancient, eldritch lord. Contending with the traumas that have kept him away from home for decades and the supernatural horrors appearing with greater frequency, Bruce Wayne sets himself to the task of saving Gotham and his friends. As is always the case when confronting such entities, however, there is a price to be paid, and it will change Bruce Wayne in mind and body forever.

It Came from Beneath Gotham!

Though it is unambiguously inspired by the stories of H. P. Lovecraft, The Doom That Came to Gotham comes across as more action-styled pulp than traditional, Lovecraftian horror-pulp or even old school Batman pulpy, hardboiled crime stories. While there is some mystery and plenty of gore, for much of the page count, the story doesn’t feel as horrifying as the material that inspired it. Some of the diminished dread may be chalked up to Batman as the protagonist because he’s a capable and competent man of action, which cannot always be said of the protagonists of Lovecraft’s work. The story is also 75% done before it starts getting to madness-inducing weirdness, and even then, there’s an exposition dump leading up to it. It also lacks a surreal element, making it seem less weird than Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on a Serious Earth, or the Night of Owls from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s run on Batman, or even the Scarecrow sections of the Arkham video games.

There is the price for having any dealing with Outer Gods, even to oppose them, and that remains true, even if for a long time it doesn’t seem as though Bruce Wayne suffers in the same way that some many Lovecraftian heroes suffer, even when victorious. Nonetheless, the story takes a toll on him physically and mentally.

The Lurker on the Threshold

Character art is generally good and when it’s called upon to be grotesque or otherworldly, it manages quiet well. The action, however, isn’t always clear or easy to follow.

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It is an entry in DC’s Elseworlds series, and the story sometimes feels like a spiritual follow-up to Gotham by Gaslight, for better or worse, only replace some of the industrial grit with gore and cosmic horror. The steampunk sense of adventure remains. There is also plenty of amusement to be had in witnessing the Lovecraftian take on traditional characters from Batman’s rogues’ gallery and the allusions and Easter eggs to Lovecraft’s many stories.

While Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham not an amazing revelation, it’s fun and won’t lower your sanity score. Fans of Batman and cosmic horror will find something to enjoy here.

Source

Mignola, Mike, et al. Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham. DC Comics, 2015.

© 2022 Seth Tomko

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