|“||It's okay, Dad. You can tell me the truth. That deep-down, dark truth you don't want to admit to yourself. You hate this city. You always have.||„|
|~ James Jr. goading his father, Commissioner Gordon.|
|“||I know you don't believe me... but I love you--||„|
|~ James Jr. to Barbara Gordon, his last words.|
James Gordon, Jr. is a fictional supervillain appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics, commonly as an adversary of the superhero Batman. He is the son of Commissioner James Gordon and the older brother of Barbara Gordon (also known as Batgirl, and later Oracle). He is a murderous sociopath who has shown signs of being disturbed since his youth. He is the main antagonist of Batman: The Black Mirror.
James is only seen as an infant during Batman's early year tales such as Batman: Year One and Batman: The Long Halloween. In Batman: Year One, he is thrown off a bridge by thugs working for mob boss Carmine Falcone, but Batman saves him. He is mentioned as living with his mother, Gordon's ex-wife, until the Skeleton Cases story.
James begins exhibiting sociopathic tendencies as a young child; he tortures animals, starts fires and terrorizes other children, and is also suspected of killing a friend of his sister's. He leaves Gotham at some point, and it is not known what happened during this time (though it is implied that he goes on a cross-country killing spree).
James soon realizes that the law will eventually catch up with him, and so decides to place himself in a program to test a new drug which would treat his sociopathy and allow him to feel empathy. The drug works, but James decides that he does not like being able to empathize with others; he believes that empathy is a weakness, and alters the drug to suppress his empathy more that it had been before he began taking it. Upon seeing Batman in a news report on television, he correctly deduced Batman's identity as Dick Grayson (this took place during a storyline in which Dick took up the mantle of Batman after Bruce Wayne was believed to be dead), and returns to Gotham to face him.
Commissioner Gordon gets a phone call from Harvey Bullock telling him to go to the Gotham City Aviary. When Gordon arrives, Bullock informs him that the aviary cages are all automated from the control room and there is some troubling video footage from the security cameras that he needs to see. Gordon sees the image of a man who resembles his son James Jr. This assumption begins to trouble Gordon and soon he becomes haunted by the visions of past unsolved case files that involved murdered children.
Fifteen years earlier, Gordon had been moving up the ranks within the precinct when he started investigating a string of eight murders committed by the Peter Pan Killer, who would sneak into family homes and abduct children from their beds, and then murder them. Gordon apprehended the Peter Pan Killer, Roy Blount, who attempted to abduct a young James Jr.
Gordon heads to Blackgate to interrogate Blount before he is released from prison to find out why he didn’t go through with kidnapping James Jr. Blount reveals that he was going to kill Gordon Jr. rather than abducting him because James Jr. fixed him with an ominous stare when he entered the boy’s room. Blount also reveals that he, not James Jr., was the one who murdered Barbara's friend.
This revelation causes Gordon to wonder about his son’s innocence, and what exactly happened to the young girl. Barbara has always been under the assumption that James Jr. murdered her friend because she saw her stepbrother playing with her friend’s house keys. Gordon has heard this story from her before, but now he doubts if it is actually true. There is a possibility that the killer took the young girl’s keys and dropped them at the Gordon’s apartment by accident. Gordon tells Blount that the entire GCPD will be watching him.
Later that day, Gordon has coffee with Barbara and talks to her about his findings. Barbara still sticks by her story and she leaves her father with lingering doubts but then James Jr. appears from other side of the café. James Jr. sits down with his father and explains his return to Gotham. James Jr. begins by apologizing to his father for the theatrics at the aviary. James tells his father that his mother (Barbara Sr.) sent him to Arkham Asylum for a psychological evaluation and the doctors clinically diagnosed him as a sociopath. However, the doctors prescribed an experimental medicine to help James control his violent urges.
James also swears to his father that he has never killed anybody. Gordon still doesn't know what to think about his son until James informs him about his volunteer work at Dr. Leslie Thompkins' clinic. James Jr. leaves the café and asks that his father will hopefully find it in his heart to forgive him. For a while, Gordon feels this extreme sense of relief that his son is misunderstood but he is changing for the better. When Gordon reaches his apartment, he finds a trail of blood. Gordon follows the trail to James Jr.'s old room. The trail ends in James' closet. Gordon opens the door and finds the body of a man who had bullied James Jr. as a child.
Gordon immediately goes to the clinic and finds Leslie. Gordon demands to know where his son is. Leslie informs Gordon that his son is a model volunteer because anything she asks him to do, he "happily" does. Over time, Leslie has given James Jr. more responsibilities like making "nutrition runs" for newborn babies who come from poor families. Gordon doesn't want to panic Leslie by telling her what he had found at his apartment, so he humbly asks her to call him the moment James comes in for his shift. Leslie agrees to Gordon's request and she tries to calm his worries by showing him James' office.
Leslie flips on the lights in James' office and gives Gordon a tour. As Leslie professes how great James is, Gordon on the other hand, cannot believe that Leslie would be so naïve to willingly put her full trust in someone like James. Gordon peers around the office and finds a vile of James' medicine. The medicine is called Diaxemene which is designed to release a chemical in the brain so the patient can feel empathy. Gordon takes a pill from the vial, thanks Leslie for the tour and makes his way to Barbara's place at Kord Tower.
Gordon gives Barbara the pill that he took from James' office and asks her to run a couple of tests. Barbara knew something was going on with James, but she didn't want to rub in her father's face because she could see that Gordon still wanted to hold onto any hope of saving his son. Barbara figures the medicine is supposed to help James in treating or possibly curing his psychotic tendencies but Diaxemene is still in the testing phases and hasn't been approved by the FDA. Gordon is hoping he can convince James to undergo some blood work in order to make sure that he has been taking his pills.
Gordon leaves Barbara to her work while he heads back to the clinic. Barbara breaks down the pill's components and she makes a startling discovery. James has reversed the effect of the pill and now the pill is designed to chemically induce apathy rather than empathy in a certain section of the brain. However, the dosage of James' pill is of such low grade that it wouldn't affect an adult. Barbara relays all of her findings to Gordon's cell phone. Gordon can't understand why James would concoct a pill with such a low dosage then it hits him. Leslie made James responsible for the "nutrition runs" at her clinic. James has been putting his pills in the baby formula and giving it to all the newborns, thereby ensuring their eventual development into sociopaths.
Just as Gordon reaches the clinic, he is stopped by Bullock who has some terrible news, the Joker has escaped Arkham and something horrible has happened to Gordon's ex-wife. Gordon acts quickly by warning Leslie about James then he calls in a small task force to station themselves at the clinic and wait for James to return. Gordon puts the hunt for his son in the hands of his police officers while he accompanies Bullock. Bullock tells Gordon that he received an anonymous phone call from someone who said Barbara is going to die at the Gotham Plaza Hotel. Gordon and Bullock reach the hotel room where Barbara was staying at and as Gordon entered, he notices a light coming from the bathroom. Gordon finds his ex-wife dead in the bath tub, with a crimson smile across her face.
Gordon rushes Barbara to the lab at Wayne Enterprises while Bullock tells her about her mother's murder. Barbara reacts by calling Dick and having him meet her father at the lab. Oracle runs a few tests on her mother while Dick injects the anti-Joker Venom. Fortunately, Gordon got to Barbara just in time to save her and the Joker Venom was a derivative of the original. Gordon believes that the Joker killed his ex-wife, but Dick convinces him that there is no way the Joker could have escaped Arkham and found out where Barbara lived so quickly. Dick promises Gordon that he will find Joker and make him talk.
Dick heads to Arkham and conducts a complete sweep of the crime scene. From what Dick can deduce, Joker didn't get very far from Arkham because Dick begins follow a trail of Joker's sweat which seems to be secreting Joker Venom. Dick follows the trail to an abandoned section of Arkham. At this point, Dick figures that Joker must have discovered Victor Zsasz's underground path which leads to the catacombs beneath Arkham. Zsasz used this path to escape Arkham, so he could freely kill anyone he wanted in Gotham then he would make his way back to Arkham as if he had never escaped at all.
Dick finds Joker in a dank corner of the catacombs. He notices Joker mumbling to himself about being disappointed. Dick apprehends Joker and begins to interrogate him. Joker starts off by complaining about the fact that Dick isn't the real Batman by saying "You don't scare me little bird” and he isn't saying a word until the real Batman returns. Dick decides to beat down on the Joker until he reveals who he hired to attack Barbara. Joker laughs hysterically because according to him, the real Batman would have figured out that the Joker does his own dirty work and he would never send some errand boy to take credit for his fun. Dick finally realizes that the Joker was able to escape simply because someone needed him to be the scapegoat for the attack on Barbara and they were counting on Commissioner Gordon to retaliate by ending the Joker once and for all.
Back at the lab, Gordon sits by Barbara's side as she gets a few hours of much-needed sleep. Barbara eventually wakes up and, upon seeing her father, screams for help. A doctor calms Barbara down with a sedative. Gordon finally realizes that James Jr. injected his mother with Joker Venom as a way to get back at her for institutionalizing him, and then manipulated him into believing the Joker had done it. He then realizes that James Jr. is also intent on killing Barbara.
Bullock drops Barbara off at her apartment doorstep and just as she entered her apartment, James Jr. closes the door right behind her. Barbara tells him that she always knew he was a monster, and that she knows that he looks for people's flaws rather than their redeeming qualities as a way of creating an excuse for killing them. He smiles and tells her that he has always respected her for being able to see through him. Barbara keeps James Jr. busy enough for Dick and her father to come to her aid, and a heartbroken Commissioner Gordon disowns his son and has him committed to Arkham Asylum.
The New 52
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. During the most recent Arkham riots, James Jr. escapes from prison and begins to stalk Batgirl. He then tries to murder his own mother, which forces Barbara to wound him by throwing a Batarang into his eye 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.
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. James Jr. finds 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 Jr. holds him off telling him that if he kills Waller, he will never know who his real father is Harley Quinn arrives at Belle Reve and drops OMAC near James 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 Jr. also learns that the Thinker is planning to use OMAC. While James Jr. is talking to Harley Quinn, the Thinker has taken OMAC and begins transferring his mind to it. Now activated, OMAC proceeds to attack Waller, James Jr., Harley, and King Shark.
In Batman Eternal, after Commissioner Gordon is arrested for unintentionally causing a serious accident in Gotham's underground railway, Gordon is visited by James Jr. while incarcerated in Blackgate. 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. 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.
In other media
- James Gordon Jr. is one of Jim Gordon's children in The Dark Knight, played by Nathan Gamble. 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 Dent off of a ledge to his death just as he is about to shoot the boy.
- An infant James Gordon Jr. appears in Batman Year One. He is kidnapped by Carmine Falcone's nephew Johnny Vitti, only to be saved by Batman.