Gotham in trouble, Batman on track

When Nordic pioneers approached this shore of America in the 17th centurye century, with their picks, their dreams and their families, they planted standards in the soft ground, erected tents, lit fires. The stories warmed up when morale went down. The mud complicated everything. The community was fragile, but with sweat and hope, it had to get out of it. On this land which will later be called the United States, it was necessary to build a city. Houses have grown, lopsided houses, stalls, churches. Rivalries and brawls have grown as fast. The ground was cursed, some said. The spilled blood was buried under the stones. The foundations of Gotham City were laid.

Crime Carnival. Centuries later, despite its chaotic genesis, the city is still standing. A hero named Batman plugs the gaps. He watches over a city with insane cadastre, modeled after New York, Chicago and Babylon. The danger is permanent. Death awaits you outside the cinemas of Park Row, in banks ready to be robbed, in toxic factories, in poisoned sewers… Gotham is the paradise of crime and nothing seems to be able to bring peace, neither the mayor nor the money of billionaire Bruce Wayne and especially not the police, overwhelmed, corrupt, reduced to turning a spotlight to the sky to summon a man disguised as a bat.

The nights are long in Gotham City – twenty-four hours of black gangue, a veil of sticky nightmare like a latex suit. Batman blends effortlessly into the background, with the grace of a bramble in the evil flower garden. You may come across him at the bottom of your building, at the crime carnival. The artists are known: Joker, Penguin, Double-Face, Catwoman… Ask for the program! Don’t miss Arkham Asylum either. All criminals end up entering this Gothic building whose name recalls the novels of Lovecraft. Tirelessly, all criminals also end up getting out.

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Masked convict. The city of Batman is the materialization of a fear, that of a city plagued by crime to the marrow. “Gotham City is the product of American history, explains the artistic director of the Angoulême International Comics Festival, Stéphane Beaujean. At the beginning of the XXe century, the United States is experiencing rapid urbanization. The population increases in big cities, it is the birth of buildings. Poverty is increasing, so is delinquency. Metropolitan crime then becomes the subject of all stories, from detective stories to comics. When Batman appeared in 1939, he joined this trend, that of the vigilante in the fight against crime, taking up the thriller codes. It’s no coincidence that his debut is published in Detective Comics. “

Gotham City seems to be carved out of blocks of shadow, dead ends, its buildings like bars. Batman is a prisoner, a man locked in a world, kept on a leash by his thirst for justice. Only the poets of crime, whimsical, unpredictable, are free. The masked convict will be the last to leave Gotham. No need to turn off the light. It has been for a long time.

Guillaume Pajot


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