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James Gordon Jr.

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J.J. Gordon
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceBatman #407 (May 1987)
Created byFrank Miller
Dave Mazzucchelli
In-story information
Alter egoJames Worthington Gordon Jr.
Team affiliationsSuicide Squad
AbilitiesGenius level intellect

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James Worthington "J.J." Gordon Jr. is a character in the fictional Batman universe. He is a super-villain and commonly an adversary of the superhero Batman. According to the work by Christopher Vogler it is typical for mono-myths such as Batman, that the superhero at some stage must endure an ordeal that changes him, frequently featuring some form of death and rebirth but always involving a struggle with a great evil [1]. James Gordon Jr. embodies that character archetype of great evil, who Batman in Batman: The Black Mirror must overcome. The struggle has attracted some academic interest in such diverse fields as psychology [2], law [3], and cultural studies [4]. James Gordon Jr. is the son of James Gordon and Barbara Eileen Gordon, and the adoptive brother (or biological brother, depending on the continuity) of Barbara Gordon, who as Batgirl later tries to bring James Gordon Jr. to justice.

Publication history[edit]

The character was created by Frank Miller and Dave Mazzucchelli, appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. First appearance was in Batman #407 (May 1987). James Gordon Jr. first appears in the "Batman: Year One" story arc. James Jr.'s backstory and character are elaborated upon in the 2011 Batgirl series and in the contemporaneous Detective Comics #871-881 (see Batman: The Black Mirror). This new continuity establishes that James Jr. is a psychopath.

Psycological profile[edit]

In the story Batman: The Black Mirror, the psychopathic James Gordon, Jr. embodies Batman's (here personified by Dick Grayson) complete opposite. Batman's encounter with James Gordon Jr, is meant to show that Batman can survive even the worst challenges that Gotham can throw at ham and come out the other side better than he was before [5]. Dick takes what the city throws at him and remains fighting


In the "Batman: Year One" story arc, Barbara Eileen and James Gordon conceive James Jr. shortly before arriving in Gotham City[6]. Gordon quickly attracts the wrath of mobster Carmine Falcone, who sends hitman Johnny Viti to kidnap his infant son. Viti throws James Jr. off a bridge, but Batman leaps after the child and saves him.[7]

James Jr. has displayed violent behavior from an early age; as a child, he kills animals and takes them apart as a hobby. He is also implicated in the disappearance of one of his sister's friends, Bess Keller. Barbara swears that she saw James carrying Bess' keychain, although this is never proven.[8] His antisocial behavior contributes to his parents' divorce.[9] He is mentioned having left Gotham to travel around the country at some point.[10]

When James Jr. returns to Gotham years later, he begins secretly following his father.[11] James Jr. confronts his father in a diner[12] and explains that he is taking medication to curb his violent impulses, and is trying to turn his life around. James Jr. announces he is planning to get a job at Leslie Thompkins' clinic, and asks his father to help him by in turn asking Dick Grayson to not speak against his application.[13] While hunting down old cases, Commissioner Gordon meets another murderer who might have been responsible for the death of Bess Keller, and begins to believe that his son may indeed have changed.[14] In reality, however, James Jr. has become a serial killer.[15] Thompkins insists that James Jr. is doing a great job, but his father suspects otherwise and has Barbara test his medication. They discover that James Jr. has reversed the formula to increase his homicidal impulses, and correctly deduce he is going to poison an infant nutritional facility.[16]

Gordon's wife is attacked with Joker venom when the Joker escapes from Arkham Asylum, but it turns out James Jr. was using this as a diversion to kidnap his sister. When Barbara Gordon belittles her half-brother as being no different than every other criminal in Gotham, James Jr. stabs her in her femoral arteries.[17] Batman attempts to find them, and James Jr. explains that he knows Batman's secret identity – claiming that the Gordons and Waynes are so connected to Gotham that it would be impossible for him not to know – and tried to get his attention by helping the supervillain Dealer and breaking the Joker out of Arkham. Believing that empathy and compassion are signs of weakness, he seeks to destroy Batman — "the weakest man in Gotham" — and create a new generation of psychopaths by tainting a baby food production line. Though badly wounded, Barbara stabs him in the eye when he attacks her. Batman then bursts through the window and reveals he injected him with a tracking device when James and Grayson shook hands earlier, noting that, while he might trust people, that does not stop him from being suspicious. When James Jr. tries to run away, his father shoots him in both legs, although he saves his son's life by stopping him from falling off a bridge. It is left ambiguous whether or not James Jr.'s plan actually succeeded.[18]

In The New 52, Barbara Gordon is the biological daughter of James Gordon and Barbara Eileen Gordon. This makes her also the biological older sister of James Jr. and retcons their relationship as step-siblings. Commissioner Gordon's deceased brother Roger and sister-in-law Thelma do not exist in this continuity.[19] During the most recent Arkham riots, James Jr. escapes from prison[20] and begins to stalk Batgirl.[21] He then tries to murder his own mother, which forces Barbara to wound him by throwing a Batarang into his eye[22] apparently fatally, although his body is never found when he is thrown off a bridge by the attack. He is soon found to be alive and well and is recruited by Amanda Waller to join the Suicide Squad.[23]

During the Forever Evil storyline, James Gordon Jr. is seen at Belle Reve, where he learns that Thinker and King Shark are building a satellite.[24] James Gordon Jr. finds Amanda Waller who proceeds to bring him to a secret sub-level in the prison. On the way, she tells him the history of the Task Force program and all the failed attempts that lead up to Task Force Team X before being found by King Shark. James Gordon Jr. holds him off telling him that if he kills Waller, he will never know who his real father is.[25] Harley Quinn arrives at Belle Reve and drops OMAC near James Gordon Jr. James Gordon Jr. confronts her and puts a knife in her back and an explosive collar around her neck where he learns that she betrayed the team in the Rockies. James Gordon Jr. also learns that the Thinker is planning to use OMAC. While James Gordon Jr. is talking to Harley, the Thinker has taken OMAC and begins transferring his mind to it. Now activated, OMAC proceeds to attack Amanda Waller, James Gordon Jr., Harley Quinn, King Shark and Kamo.[26]

In Batman Eternal, after Commissioner Gordon is arrested for unintentionally causing a serious accident in Gotham's underground railway,[27] Gordon is visited by James Jr. while incarcerated in Blackgate.[28] He believes that his father at least subconsciously acknowledges the 'truth' that Gotham is beyond saving and that his attempts to be a hero are pointless. James makes arrangements to leave his father's cell open and provide him with an opportunity to escape Blackgate.[29] Gordon decides to remain in prison, however, concluding that Gotham is still worth saving and musing that he may just be getting old and made a mistake.[30]

In other media[edit]

  • James Gordon Jr. is one of Jim Gordon's children in The Dark Knight, played by Nathan Gamble. He is Gordon's eldest son, having a little sister. Unlike the comics, he doesn't show any psychopathic tendencies and seems to be a normal kid. At the film's climax, Harvey Dent tries to kill him as revenge for the death of his girlfriend Rachel Dawes, for which he blames Gordon. Batman saves James' life by tackling Two-Face off of a ledge just as he is about to shoot the boy. In The Dark Knight Rises, it's revealed that after Harvey's attempt on Gordon's family, Gordon and his wife separated, the latter moving with their children to Cleveland.
  • An infant James Gordon Jr. appears in Batman: Year One. He ends up captured by Carmine Falcone's nephew Johnny Vitti only to be saved by Batman.

See also[edit]


  1. Vogler, Christopher. The Writer’s Journey. Michael Wise Productions, 2007, Studio City, CA
  2. John Porterfield (2009) A Review of The Dark Knight, A Rorschach of the American Psyche, Psychological Perspectives, 52:2, 271-275, DOI: 10.1080/0033292090288128
  3. Timothy D Peters (2015) Beyond the limits of the law: a Christological reading of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, Griffith Law Review, 24:3, 418-445, DOI: 10.1080/10383441.2015.1096985
  4. Gabriel Huddleston (2016) A Dark Knight for public education: Using Batman as an apparatus of diffraction with neoliberal education reform, Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies, 38:5, 468-489, DOI: 10.1080/10714413.2016.1221713
  5. Thigpen AF (2007), Batman as Monomyth [..] the Hero’s Journey to Gotham. MA thesis
  6. Batman #404
  7. Batman #407
  8. Detective Comics #875
  9. Batgirl Vol. 4 #8
  10. Detective Comics #874
  11. Detective Comics #871
  12. Detective Comics #872
  13. Detective Comics #874
  14. Detective Comics #875
  15. Detective Comics #878
  16. Detective Comics #879
  17. Detective Comics #880
  18. Detective Comics #881
  19. Batgirl: The Darkest Reflection
  20. Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2 #1 (November 2011)
  21. Batgirl Vol. 4 #12 (October 2012)
  22. Batgirl Vol. 4 #19 (June 2013)
  23. Suicide Squad Vol. 4 #20 (July 2013)
  24. Suicide Squad Vol. 4 #24
  25. Suicide Squad Vol. 4 #25
  26. Suicide Squad Vol. 4 #26
  27. Batman: Eternal #1
  28. Batman: Eternal #12
  29. Batman: Eternal #13
  30. Batman: Eternal #14

26. ^ Batman who laughs #2

External links[edit]

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