Last week, I mentioned that I would be talking about James Gordon, Jr. I find James is rarely discussed by Batman fans, perhaps because he isn’t as flamboyant as some of the other villains in the Batman universe.
James, you see, is a psychopath, fully diagnosed in the universe. Unlike the majority of villains in Gotham City, James doesn’t have the same glitz and glamor as your Jokers or Two-Faces or Riddlers. If one were to meet James Gordon, Jr. on the street, he’d come off as a normal member of society. In truth, however, he is a cold, ruthless killer who shows no emotion outside of what he wants to show you.
In Year One, James is introduced as Jim Gordon’s son from his first marriage with Barbara Eileen. When James Jr. was just a baby, the Falcone family, in an effort to get to Jim, sent Johnny Viti to kidnap and throw James Jr. off of a bridge, only for James Jr. to be saved at the last minute by Batman. There is some speculation that the physical and emotional trauma, even at such a young age, caused James Jr’s. psychopathic tendencies.
As James Jr. grew up, he began to kill animals and take them apart to see how they work. He also killed Barbara Gordon’s friend, Bess Keller, while the Gordon family was on vacation, simply because Bess thought James Jr. was “weird.” While Jim Gordon later admits that he had a feeling James Jr. did something to Bess, at the time he verbally denied that James Jr. was a murderer, even while young Barbara Gordon argued that James Jr. did something to Bess.
In The Black Mirror, it’s stated that, when Barbara Eileen and Jim Gordon got their divorce, James Jr. lived with Eileen, although both parents still talked about James Jr. whenever he did something sinister. When he grew older, he came back to Gotham City,
with the excuse that he’d started to take drugs to help him reassimilate into society. Turns out he was actually killing across the United States, and the medication he was taking was actually re-engineered to increase his psychopathic tendencies. James Jr. doesn’t want to be anything less than what he is: a killer.
Batman readers have seen this before. The Joker is a psychopath too, but at times, mainly during The Killing Joke, the Joker has shown self-realization that it’s far too late for him to stop being a killer, almost showing pity towards Gotham and towards himself for the fact that he’s going to be evil until death.
James Jr. is the opposite. He has the ability to at least curb his psychopathic tendencies, and he chooses not to. In fact, he chooses to make his tendencies even worse. In one
issue, he is seen mocking a former classmate while holding the classmate captive in the classmate’s own house. The classmate is near death, chained to the ceiling and missing all four limbs and one eyeball. James Jr. doesn’t just kill his victims. He makes them beg for death.
James Jr.’s ultimate plan, however, is even more sickening. He plans to take his re-engineered psychopathic medication and put it in formula to feed to babies at an infant nutrition center, creating a new generation of psychopaths who will have no chance to avoid their fate.
In the real world, studies show that psychopathy cannot be cured, and therapy is hit-or-miss. It’s a tragic disorder for both the psychopath and their family. But in the Batman universe, there is therapy that could help psychopaths like James Jr. He chose not to use it. He felt it made him “weak.”
I feel compassion for all the members of Batman’s Rogue Gallery. They all have their reasons for becoming evil, and most of them don’t have a way to reverse their fate. James Jr. is different. He has a way out and chooses to not take it. He can become better and decides to stay a crazed psychopath.
I have no sympathy for that.