Aubrey James

Aubrey JamesAnother heads up, and quite a major one this time, since the character I missed is one of Gotham‘s recurring ones, who’s been around since Pilot. Actually, I didn’t even know that he came from the comics (in my defense, he only appeared in a couple of issues, and in a flashback in both): we’re speaking of Aubrey James, portrayed by Richard Kind, the mayor of Gotham City in the show. James is portrayed as a corrupt politician on Carmine Falcone‘s paybill, one of the most powerful men in town and not exactly a fan of young and idealist detective James Gordon. There’s really not much to say about him in the comics, but it’s worth to see who he originally was…especially considering that his role in the original storyline is extremely different from the show’s one. Let’s see together.

Not much is known about Aubrey James’ past (or his life in general), apart from the fact that he was born and raised in Gotham City, the heir of one of the wealthiest and most important families in the city. An influent businessman, Aubrey chose the political career, and ran for the position of mayor in his beloved Gotham. Contrary to most of his fellow citizens, however, James was surprisingly honest, and refused to tie any relation with the local criminality, and managed to sustain his own campaign with his family’s wealth. Even more surprisingly, Aubrey James managed to win the elections, and became the new mayor. Of course, the task wasn’t exactly an easy one, and that he knew mayorjamescomics1from the beginning…but the criminality rate even grew from the moment he was elected (most likely because the mob families wanted to weaken his influence among the people and let loose all their worst elements…or just because the city was simply getting crazier from year to year). Desperate situations called for desperate measures, and James was more than eager to fight the growing emergency with every resource at his disposal. In order to do this, James united with other influent and resourceful men from Gotham (obviously the few other honest ones), and in 1951 they formed a group that they named The Madmen of Gotham (naming it following the tradition regarding the population of Gotham, in England, the village from which the city had taken its name). Together, the Madmen put their remarkable resources, being them political, economical or scientifical ones, in common to reach the goal of extinguishing criminality in Gotham City.

The members of the Madmen elected a chairmen, and almost unanimously they chose Thomas Wayne, the doctor and philanthropist who was regarded as the wisest among them. The Madmen met into Wayne Manor, in a secret room that Thomas had built for the occasion: they discussed night after night to find means to fight their crusade effectively. It was soon clear to all of them, however, that regular strategies were of no use: the entire police department was on the gangsters’ paybill, and most of James’ cooperators in the cabinet acted as spies for the mob. One of the members had quite a revolutionary and risky idea, and proposed to the rest of the Madmen to use an mayorjamescomics2experimental therapy that involved a particularly invasive kind of brainwashing. The plan was to experiment on the minds of the criminals, in order to remove their tendency to violence, making them incapable of resuming their old lives once they got out of prison. Albeit worried for the possible side effects, James ended up supporting the idea, as well as most of the Madmen; the only one who opposed it was Thomas Wayne, who found it an inhuman method, that would have made the Madmen not much better than the criminals they wanted to stop. The chairman’s aversion wasn’t a problem for long, as unfortunately both Thomas and his wife Martha were killed in an alley by a lowlife, Joe Chill. The Waynes’ killing only confirmed the remaining Madmen of the necessity of their experimental treatment, and they put it on motion soon after: unfortunately, as Aubrey James had feared, the side effects were pretty serious, as some of the criminals who underwent the treatment not only didn’t lose their violent tendencies, but had them increased, becoming homicidal lunatics that would have radically transformed Gotham City in the years to come. Not exactly the legacy Mayor James wanted to leave to his beloved city.

Aubrey James is one of the few honest men in Gotham City, a committed politician who truly wants to save his beloved city from a raising criminality. His will to change the world he lives in, however, is often mixed up to his own personal ambition to be remembered as the Mayor who cured Gotham of his “illness”, and ambition that leads him to dark paths he should avoid to mantain his integrity…and his city’s soul.

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