This week, it was announced that Gotham had cast Raymond J. Barry (The 100) as a mentor for young Bruce Wayne. The character apparently goes by The Shaman, which points to one particular four-part comic series, The Cult, published in 1988. If Gotham’s Shaman is intended to move the story toward the events of The Cult, which appears likely, the show is about to get real trippy, real fast.
The official description for the Shaman on Gotham reads, “Barry will play the temple Shaman, a mysterious figure who enters Bruce’s (David Mazouz) life with the stated intention of unlocking the potential of his own mind. While the Shaman says the fate of Gotham depends upon Bruce becoming the man the city needs him to become, the truth behind his intentions proves to be far more sinister.” That’s pretty damn close to what occurs in The Cult with a character named Deacon Blackfire.
Though Bruce Wayne is a grizzled adult in The Cult, the Shaman’s mind-bending, hallucinatory tactics cut him down into an adolescent. He’s a psychological torture fiend similar to the Court of Owls, and when Bruce allows him access to his psyche, the Shaman all but destroys him from the inside. In The Cult, it’s Robin who saves Batman, but in Gotham, that role could end up being Jim Gordon’s next plot point.
Gotham has a confusing track record when it comes to incorporating existing Batman lore, and the changes the show runners have made to Gothamite canon have been polarizing, to say the least. The real meat of The Cult is its look at what happens to Gotham when its most dedicated defender loses faith in himself, so the show will do well to follow that model. There’s nothing like Batman and Robin driving the Batmobile back into Gotham, after the Cult has taken over. They stare in horror at bodies lining the streets, swinging from lamp-posts.
Will incorporating some of the subjects from The Cult make Gotham a better show? Probably not, but casting for The Shaman is a good reminder to fans that some of Batman’s most engrossing, and disturbing, stories, still haven’t been adapted to television or film.
Gotham premieres on Fox January 16. Batman: The Cult is available in comic book stores everywhere.