How did a “Batman” comic co-written by Mike Mignola manage to go without a collected edition for nearly fifteen years? We may never know the exact answer, but it wasn’t because “The Doom That Came to Gotham” wasn’t a good “Elseworlds” series. This three-part miniseries, co-written by Richard Pace with art from Troy Nixey, takes place in 1928 -- two decades after Bruce Wayne’s parents were cut down in the street by a madman and he was cursed with a vision of the doom that would eventually envelop the city. Now, after finding the lost Cobblepot expedition and the otherworldly horror that was the source of its ruin, Bruce is headed back to Gotham to confront his fate.
While Pace is credited as a co-writer, the story has all of Mignola’s trademarks. Men transformed into monsters due to otherworldly powers, unnatural Lovecraftian beings from outside the bounds of our universe trying to get in, protagonists strong-willed enough to punch evil in the face, and so on. All of this actually manages to comport really well with the Bat-mythos, and in some genuinely surprising and satisfying ways. It could’ve been a mess, with Mignola and Pace forcing their end-of-the-world story onto a setup and characters that don’t fit it. Yet it’s a testament to their skill and the flexibility of said mythos that the inclusion of characters like Ra’s Al Ghul, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, and even Jason Blood’s more entertaining half mesh with the narrative as well as they do.
Mind you, I’m saying this as someone who has a lot of familiarity with Batman and his rogues gallery. Even if you’re coming to this as a fan of Mignola’s work with “Hellboy” and “B.P.R.D.” a lot of the various plot points and twists will likely not come off in a satisfying manner if you don’t have any knowledge of these characters as they normally are in the DC Universe. This is in spite of the gloriously weird and creepy art from Nixey -- who I’m honestly surprised hasn’t worked more in the Mignolaverse over the years. Due to the necessary familiarity with Batman and his mythos, “The Doom That Came to Gotham” is best appreciated by Bat-fans who are looking for a different take on these things. In that regard, the creators deliver mightily.