I used to be an avid Wizard reader, but gave up due to a combination of the internet and the fact that they were doing shit like this all the time. But I had fond memories of the first Dark Book, since it was a celebration of all things evil and criminal, with little in the way of Wizard's mean-spirited snark. So at $1, I figured why now pick up the sequel?
I found a lot of neat stuff, but most interesting to me are the Batman villain character profiles, complete with "future plans": hints about upcoming events from writers and editors. Some, like Poison Ivy and Scarecrow, accurately described what was happening next with those characters. Others, however, not so much.
Check out what was originally planned for the Joker around 1998:
The Joker... prominent man about Gotham, respected by high society? Now that's a story I would have DIED to have seen, especially as written by Chuck Dixon! For my money, Dixon's one of the best Joker writers ever. Just look at Devil's Advocate, The Demon Laughs, and that Az-Bat story where the Joker has a ponytail and is making a film. All great stories! Just ignore Last Laugh entirely, and Dixon's track record with Joker is excellent!
But that never happened. Why? Because No Man's Land happened instead. And from these "future plans" snippets, it seems like NML was never meant to happen at all! Just like the similarly-disaster-themed Contagion, Gotham was apparently just going to bounce back after Cataclysm! Instead, it got stretched out through Aftershock, before they went on the Road to No Man's Land.
Heh, Road to No Man's Land sounds like it should have been a one-sided buddy comedy with Joker and Harvey. surrealname, make this happen.
And what about Detective Comics #726, the issue forecast to be the start of "prominent Gotham City citizen" Joker? Instead, we got this one-shot story, which is a fine trade-off consider that it's another example of why Chuck Dixon's one of the best Joker writers ever.
At the same time, he's also one of the worst Two-Face writers. At least, if you're like me and you don't like Harvey written as a raving, evil thug. So I'm relieved that No Man's Land happened, even though I'd love to know what Dixon and Scott Peterson had originally planned:
So Harvey would have fled Gotham for Blüdhaven (still the silliest name for a comic book city), resulting in Dick vs. Harvey, Round 3! It would have been an excellent story for Dick fans, but it's clear even from Peterson's description that Harvey would have continued to be depicted shallowly. Still, I have to wonder if maybe some remnants of Dixon's Two-Face story didn't carry through that next year's stories.
ALSO! In case anyone was wondering, yes indeed, there's proof: The Long Halloween was not canon. Nor should it be, but I suppose, since Devin Grayson made Prey canon (in a great story which I'll finally be posting soon), I guess now all LOTDK stories are fair game for people to consider canon or otherwise, as they see fit. But even still, Jeph Loeb and Tony Daniel be damned, TLH is not now, nor shall it ever be, in actual continuity as far as I'm concerned. So there! *nods*
Finally, not all of the scrapped-plans for post-Cataclysm sounded especially, um, Earth-shattering, if Pengers is any indication:
Oswald Cobblepot: LANDOWNER! Sounds like they were going to turn him from a low-rent Kingpin into an evil landlord out of a 1920's serial. Hell, he already has the top hat! *sings* "You muuuust pay the rent! Waugh waugh waugh!"
Oh, and there was one bit bit of Bat-Rogue fun to be gained from The Dark Book '98:
Funny how nursing gets the vast majority of funds. Would that really be the largest component to Arkham, or any other mental health facility? Of course, the second and third biggest chunks go to security, which is TOTALLY money well-spent. They should just install an actual revolving door (which the Joker would still blow up anyway, but whatever) and funnel that money elsewhere. The food, maybe. Let's face it, Professor Crane needs a sammitch.
... I wanna live here! Henchgirl! Oh Henchgirl, can we live here? What a perfect place to raise our child and everything!
Arkham's not in the GCPD's jurisdiction? Then what jurisdiction does it fall under? Does "Shotgun" Smith of Gotham County get called in to handle problems, or is Arkham "international waters" just because no one wants to be involved?
Poor Jeremiah. I was skimming through some of Alan Grant's Arkham stories from the 90's and wondering where he might have taken the character from there. Jeremiah Arkham would have worked better with an ongoing arc, and I'm not sure him becoming the new Black Mask really worked in that respect. Time will tell, I imagine.
Yes-or-no questions may trigger an episode with Harvey? I'm not sure what that implies. I imagine it would cause him to flip his coin to decide which answer to give, but then, so would any question unless you took the coin away from him entirely.
As for Pam: Yes, Arkham doctors, great idea! Give the plant-themed, superpowered villain PLANTS to have in her cell! Surely that can't go wrong at all!
Finally, poor hungry Squishy! Surely he couldn't produce fear toxins or anything else from, say, a grilled cheese sammitch, could he? He needs a sammitch!
I like how Batman and Zsasz get the "don't talk to them!" warning, but there's no such mention for the Joker. Really, he deserves that one underlined three times in multicolor ink. But then, poor Jeremiah never was the brightest bulb in the batch, was he?
By the way, I'd like to thank you guys for being fans who actually like thinking about and discussing these stories. I just got called an "idiot" for daring to express my opinions about Gotham Central, yet another reminder than there's very little outlet or interest for analysis or dissension on online comics forums.
I'm currently trying to branch out and post reviews on comicvine.com, but am preparing for the trolls to come a-posting. God knows what'll happen if I dare express my dislike for The Long Halloween. So thanks, guys, for helping give me the best outlet I have for these geeky passions of mine.
At least, until Henchgirl and I get off our butts and actually start our OWN comics blog. :)