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In 1998, the various monthly Batman titles published by DC Comics depicted the fictional Gotham City as being rocked by an Earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale. The eighteen-issue storyline explored all the dramatic potential of this event, but a primary reason why this story was included in DC’s output was to have an excuse to no longer make the comic book Gotham look like the city as portrayed in the 1990s Batman movies. On-screen, thanks to the work of set designer Anton Furst who had worked on Tim Burton’s first Batman in 1989, the city was depicted as a retrofitted sixteenth-century urban nightmare, with gargoyles and buttresses jostling space for neon lights and advertising hoardings. While Batman in the comics had always been seen as a modernist urban hero, Burton’s influences came from the tradition of European fairytales and horror films, so his collaboration with Furst – who had previously designed the film of Angela Carter’s The Company of Wolves (1984) – was apt in bringing a very different sensibility to his vision of the superhero film. This was then represented in the pages of 1990s Batman comics, with the city redesigned to match its image on film. This article looks at representations of the Gothic aesthetic in the pages of Batman: Destroyer and other visions of the caped vigilante that highlight the Gothic potential of the character and his city, and whether a more Gothic Gotham suits a darker Dark Knight.
Bibliographical note© 2017 Intellect Ltd