Over the last few years, the writers of the ongoing Batman title and its spin-offs have greatly expanded the cast of heroes and villains operating in Gotham City. Current writer James Tynion IV is wasting no time picking up the tradition set by his predecessors, Tom King and Scott Snyder, of bringing in new allies and enemies for the Caped Crusader, with more new Gotham characters including The Gardener in Batman #107 and Miracle Molly who makes her first appearance in May.
With the much-hyped May debut of Miracle Molly imminent, we can't help but notice the tidal wave of new blood that currently populates Gotham City. Rebels, hunters, and vigilantes alike have all tried to make their mark on the DC Omniverse over the past few years, but are these new allies and foes the permanent modern faces of Gotham?
Join us as we catalog the new kids on the block and evaluate their potential staying power. Without further ado, let's meet the new Gothamites!
James Tynion IV and Jorge Jimenez's Batman run immediately made its mark on the Omniverse, plunging head-first into 2020's Bat-epic Joker War. Clearly realizing that Harley Quinn has grown into much more than her "Mistah Jay" days, Tynion took inspiration from contemporary online radicalization to create a Harley for Generation Zoom.
Real name Alexis Kay, Punchline was a boundary-pushing student who concocted her own Joker Gas in her dorm room. Catching the eye of the Joker himself, her cut-throat and sadistic personality made her an excellent enforcer.
The cosplay crowd immediately latched onto Punchline's simple yet eye-catching design, as did DC's editorial. A deadlier and sleeker Harley Quinn; free of domestic abuse themes but with a new equally disturbing parallel in online extremism. Like her or not, Punchline's here to stay. Expect her in plastic, animation, and eventually the silver screen.
Not content with adding to the present, Tynion and Jimenez delved into Batman's past to bring us a new antihero who had been there all along.
Arch-rival of a younger Bruce Wayne, Ghost-Maker journeyed alongside Bruce during his years in training to become the Bat. Rather than seeking to better the world, Ghost-Maker sees crime-fighting as a twisted art form and thinks nothing of dispatching his every opponent. Upon returning the Gotham, Ghost-Maker and Bats butted heads only to come to an uneasy truce following 'The Joker War.'
Just as privileged as Bruce but with an entirely different, albeit equally dedicated, approach to crime-fighting, Ghost-Maker has all the tools for a long-running character. The Batman in ghostly white, Ghost-Maker's promise to stick around Gotham means he's going to be around for a while yet.
Bao Pham lived a sedate and emotionally repressed life on the dingy underside of Gotham, until both his parents succumbed to the horrors of 'The Joker War.' A lifetime fan of Batman, Bao swore revenge, picked up his baseball bat, and hit the streets.
His quickly amassing body count saw him battle against Ghost-Maker and Batman himself, whereupon he had a crisis of conscience and fled. With an extreme look to match his adolescent bloodthirst, Clown Hunter is yet another spin on the 'changed forever by The Joker' trope.
Lacking maturity, powers, or wealth, Clown Hunter might have a bit of trouble establishing himself long-term in the DC Omniverse. While he was a necessary tool in Tynion and Jimenez's storyline, it's hard to see a world in which Clown Hunter is still cracking heads ten years into the future.
A prodigious electrician born to abusive parents in Gotham City, Harper Row is prime Robin material. Starting her crime-fighting career protecting her younger brother from hate crimes, Harper soon took to the streets. As Bluebird, she's proven herself to be an effective hacker and electrical engineer, as well as a valuable medical volunteer during Tynion's Detective Comics run.
With a neat new bird-based theme and defiant attitude, something is compelling about Harper Row. The heat seems to have cooled on Bluebird for now, but her unique skillset and against-the-odds spirit ensure that a creative team will let her fly sooner rather than later.
The Batman Who Laughs
If you've taken even a cursory glance over at the landscape of the Bat-books over the last couple of years, you're aware of The Batman Who Laughs.
A Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo creation from 2018's Dark Knights: Metal, The Batman Who Laughs represents the Joker's ultimate triumph: the complete corruption of Bruce Wayne. An unholy amalgam of Batman's Super-Competence and Joker's sadism, The Batman Who Laughs has conquered entire worlds and ascended beyond the need for a physical body entirely.
Although he's popular on the rack and already boasts a litany of merchandise, The Batman Who Laughs has achieved absolutely everything any villain could hope to achieve. He's probably going to take a break for now, but make no mistake, The Batman Who Laughs is going to be here for a very long time.
Calvin Rose trained for years under the Court of Owls, only to realize that murdering entire bloodlines for an elite crime group is bad, actually. After fleeing, Calvin engaged in some solo super-heroics and worked alongside the Bat-family during Batman Eternal.
Even though Calvin's a good guy now, he shares his codename and costume with a way more interesting character: Dick Grayson's great-grandfather William Cobb. Cobb's head recently exploded in the pages of Future State: Suicide Squad, but thanks to the magic of alternate futures that hasn't happened yet. So yes, even if Calvin Rose gets forgotten and William Cobb is ultimately doomed, the Talon concept and costume have been prominent since its introduction.
Talon is sure to be here in 20 years or so, even if another will have taken up the mantle by then. A troubled past. A shadowy cabal, a dark and mysterious costume: it's a tale as old as time.
A (you guessed it!) Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo original, Duke Thomas seemed fated to keep running into Batman.
After losing his parents and becoming placed into the foster system, Duke took it upon himself to investigate their disappearance. After accidentally stumbling into We Are Robin, he joined the crew. Soon after, Duke found himself under Batman's wing and has stayed firmly under his cape the whole time. With an eye-catching yellow costume and matching escrima sticks, The Signal's analytic mind and growing power-set have made him a popular choice among the Bat creative teams.
Future State has seen Duke considerably expand his abilities, ensuring The Signal will have staying power for years to come.
Another Snyder and Capullo creation, this flowery villain set his sights on Jim Gordon after he briefly took on the mantle of the Bat.
A slender creep with wild stretchy powers and super-human regeneration, Mr. Bloom tried to prune the pretender to Batman's cowl. His gimmick involved implanting goons that Gordon had previously arrested with technological seeds, which culminated in all of Gotham roaming wild. His gambit coaxed Batman back into the fray, although the resulting fracas went poorly for poor Mr. Bloom.
Yes, even though he's dead, Mr. Bloom could surely regrow. After all, a scary look and a killer powerset always have a place in Gotham City.
Batman and Robin with superpowers. An obvious improvement, right? Tom King and David Finch explored the poisoned chalice of turning metahuman with Hank and Claire Clover.
Dubbing themselves Gotham and Gotham Girl, the pair quickly made themselves known with their decidedly Krypton-flavored powers. After Hank burnt out his life force, Claire turned from cocksure rookie to brooding mourner. Gotham Girl quickly became a part of the extended family after a few bonding sessions with Batman himself, until it turned out that Bane gave her powers as part of his intricate plan to break the Bat. Yikes.
She went from bad to worse, teaming up with Flashpoint Batman while the real deal tackled the City of Bane. Over-powered yet mentally fragile, Gotham Girl is a unique spin on the concept of Robin. A metahuman in the Bat-Family could come in handy, while a tortured mind and a troubled origin are practically prerequisites for entry.
With the flexibility to switch allegiances, maybe Claire Clover is due a second chance. A fresh costume and a new code name wouldn't hurt, though.
We Are Robin
Following Batman's disappearance at the end of Endgame, an underground army of teenagers adopted the iconic yellow and red R to wage war against crime.
Although Duke Thomas is undoubtedly the stand-out member, Darcy has recently reappeared alongside Tim Drake in Future State: Robin Eternal, so at least one writer is thinking about this short-lived squad of skilled yet inexperienced crime-fighters. In a world with a designated Robin and an active Batman, there's no doubt that We Are Robin is permanently disbanded.
So, while it's unlikely we'll see much of this group again, Darcy's recent reappearance proves that there's some gold to be mined from within its ranks.
Keep on top of everything that's happening in Gotham with our listing of all the Batman comic book releases planned for 2021 and beyond.