The year is 1889, and a serial killer is stalking the streets of Gotham. The killer silently strikes, leaving behind a series of corpses. The police are baffled, the public is scared and the body count is rising. Gotham’s only hope is the mysterious vigilante known as Batman. But wait, how is Batman operating in 1889? The Caped Crusader didn’t make his debut until 1939’s Detective Comics #27! Welcome to the world of Gotham by Gaslight, DC’s first official Elseworlds story.

It's fitting, then, that DC chose to bring back Elseworlds with Batman: Gotham by Gaslight - The Kryptonian Age, a limited series that further expands the Dark Knight’s Victorian era adventures. But what if this is your first foray into this uniquely different Batman world? Let’s bring you up to speed on all things Gotham by Gaslight.

A Multiverse is Born

So, how is Batman operating in the 19th century? That’s the beauty of DC’s Elseworlds imprint. In Elseworlds comics, anything goes. Iconic characters can be reimagined or placed in any setting. That’s just what happened with Gotham by Gaslight, a 1989 graphic novel by Brian Augustyn and Mike Mignola that placed Batman in the Victorian era. The comic follows Batman as he tracks down Jack the Ripper on the streets of London.

It’s an interesting setting for the Dark Knight, because it removes some of his most iconic accessories. Batman can’t patrol the streets with his Batmobile, fly his Batplane, or solve crimes using his Batcomputer. The Batman of Gotham by Gaslight is a low-tech Dark Knight who relies on his wits and a little bit of steampunk ingenuity. For those who like to keep track of these sorts of things, DC has classified this continuity as Earth-19.

The success of the Gotham by Gaslight graphic novel inspired DC to create an entire line of comics built around the idea of putting DC characters in dramatically different worlds from their usual ones. They called it Elseworlds. Future printings of Batman: Gotham by Gaslight would receive the Elseworlds branding, retroactively making it the first Elseworlds story.

A Quickly Growing World

In 1992, DC published a sequel titled Batman: Master of the Future. Brian Augustyn returned as writer, with Eduardo Barreto handling the art. The story pit Batman against Alexandre LeRoi, a steampunk-inspired villain who called himself Master of the Future. Where Gotham by Gaslight combined horror and mystery, Master of Future fused adventure with Victorian era pulp.

Over 25 years later, the Victorian Dark Knight would rise again, this time coming to the screen in the 2018 animated film Batman: Gotham by Gaslight. The movie adapts the original graphic novel, but expands the story, adding characters like Selina Kyle, Dick Grayson, Leslie Tompkins and more. It also takes the narrative in a different direction than the comic that inspired it, offering a new twist to Jack the Ripper’s identity.

So, How is this Batman Different?

How is the Earth-19 Batman different from the mainstream continuity Dark Knight? Well, aside from the difference in time and technology, this version of Bruce doesn’t have the obsessive drive that his mainstream counterpart does. In Batman: Master of the Future, Bruce considers hanging up the cowl for good, wondering if he’s suited for life as a vigilante. Retirement doesn’t work out, and it isn’t long before Batman is stalking the streets again. Still, the fact that Bruce seriously considered it shows how different this version is.

He's also looking to settle down. Earth-19’s Bruce Wayne is engaged to Julie Madison, who is fully aware of his life as Batman. This is a sharp contrast to mainstream continuity where Batman has a more tepid relationship with marriage. Of course, this could all be about to change. The Kryptonian Age will be introducing the Earth-19 versions of Selina Kyle and Talia al Ghul, either of whom could endanger any wedding plans for Bruce and Julie.

One of the best things about Elseworlds stories is seeing how the writers reinterpret the many characters within its protagonist’s world. Earth-19 has some truly interesting takes on other Batman characters. For example, in Gotham by Gaslight, Gordon tells Batman about a serial killer who tried to commit suicide by ingesting his own poison. The poison partially paralyzed the unnamed man’s face, giving him a permanent smile. While the script never comes out and says this, it’s clear that the man is meant to be Earth-19’s Joker.

The Heart of a Hero

While there are many differences, the underlying themes are still the same. If you are familiar with Batman and his world, then you’ll have no trouble navigating the ins and outs of Gotham by Gaslight. Batman’s characterization and mission remain the same—things are just happening a century earlier.

Batman: Gotham by Gaslight - The Kryptonian Age is the third chapter in the Gaslight comic saga, and at six issues, will be the longest so far. The series is written by Andy Diggle and penciled by Leandro Fernandez, who pick up where Brian Augustyn, Mike Mignola and Eduardo Barretto left off.

Are you ready to enter the Kryptonian Age? I know I am. This week, we’ll discover if Batman is…

Batman: Gotham by Gaslight – The Kryptonian Age #1 by Andy Diggle, Leandro Fernandez and Dave Stewart is now available in print and as a digital comic book.

Joshua Lapin-Bertone writes about TV, movies and comics for, is a regular contributor to the Couch Club and writes our monthly Batman column, "Gotham Gazette." Follow him on Twitter at @TBUJosh.