Bruce Wayne battles an ancient evil while confronting a sinister legacy in the 1920s. Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham adapts Mike Mignola and Richard Pace’s classic DC Elseworlds comic book series into a twisted animated tale. The Dark Knight must shed reason and logic to understand a supernatural enemy spawned from the depths of Hell. A lifetime of running away from his parents’ murder must be faced with tragic consequences. Demons, monsters, and ghastly mutants abound in this somber Batman narrative. The dots aren’t smoothly connected but lead to a shocking climax with an unexpected twist.
In Antarctica, Bruce (David Giuntoli) searches for the ill-fated expedition of Professor Oswald Cobblepot (William Salyers). He arrives at his ship with young wards Dick Grayson (Jason Marsden), Sanjay Tawde (Karan Brar), Kai Li Cain (Tati Gabrielle), and his trusted butler, Alfred Pennyworth (Brian George). They find dead bodies and a journal of bizarre events. Bruce explores further and discovers a survivor with his eyes gouged out; he’s somehow alive in the freezing cold. Grendon (David Dastmalchian) cackles that his master will soon be unleashed. Gotham City is destined to burn.
A Changed Gotham City
They sail into Gotham harbor with Grendon imprisoned in the ship’s cooler. Bruce and Alfred have been gone for 20 years. The Depression and Prohibition has changed the city for the worse. A dear friend awaits at the long-shuttered Wayne Manor. Lucius Fox (Tim Russ) has secretly been running the business; he’s dutifully stored Bruce’s equipment in the cavernous wine cellar.
Everyone is stunned to find a dead body in the house. Kirk Langstrom (Jeffrey Combs), a colleague of Cobblepot, was viciously tortured. Bruce leaves the youngsters with a drunken Oliver Queen (Christopher Gorham). Batman swings through the night sky towards the university. What did Cobblepot and Langstrom know? Why have disturbing visions of his parents’ death returned? Batman fears that Grendon’s prophecy will soon be realized.
Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham channels Lovecraftian themes into an ominous mystery. Bruce believes in deductive reasoning. Alfred warns that he must be open to the possibility of other forces at play. Never discount sage advice from your butler. Bruce learns the hard way that his diabolical enemies aren’t playing by normal rules. He has to embrace their occult tactics or risk defeat and the city’s fiery destruction.
Directors Christopher Berkeley and Sam Liu, long-time stewards of DC animation, bring the source material to gruesome light. The baddies are scary and unforgiving; they’re savage killers who relish suffering. Batman’s initial tussle with a burning demon is just a hint of the macabre to come. The body count gets high as casualties mount.
Several aspects of the story are handled with varying degrees of success. Known characters are revisited in an interesting way. You’ll see a very different Oliver Queen and Barbara Gordon here. Additionally, the period setting and weaponry is unique — Batman’s gadgets have old school flair but still get the job done. The primary issue with Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham concerns the actual detective work. There is none. Batman continually bumps into new villains that just happen to point him in the right direction. The script needed to be much sharper in this regard. We’re spoonfed the plot.
Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham is loaded with satanic and pagan imagery. Characters undergo hideous transformations that’ll definitely frighten younger children. Mature audiences should enjoy this different superhero perspective despite obvious flaws.
Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham is a production of DC and Warner Bros. Animation. It is currently available on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital download from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.