It’s only a month since I wrote about Hera’s Shadezar and Venesha (see: Sharing in Hera’s dreams and visions in Second Life), so returning to a build by Hera (Zee9) so soon after that might seem a little too eager, but both settings were recently closed for a time which gave rise to thoughts that as Hera had indicated they would both only be available for a limiter period, they may have permanently closed. However, nothing could be further from the truth; the period of closure was to allow Hera to take down the skyborne Venesha and replace it with a new build, Drune Gotham. This being the case I accepted an invitation Hera extended to I might hop over to have a look around and offer what is really a “part 2” for the article mentioned above.
Accessed via the Neverworld X (as Hera calls the world in which her creations reside) landing point, which has also undergone its own redesign, Drune Gotham – as is likely to have already been spotted by fans of Hera’s work – returns to her fabled and always engaging city of Drune to offer a further twist on that design, based upon a recent iteration of that city. Back at the start of the year, Hera offered a design that – for me – stood as one of the first regions to attempt to delve into the world of dieselpunk and its sub-genre of decopunk; genres I outlined in Drune’s diesel-deco delight in Second Life:
For other unfamiliar with the genre, dieselpunk (and it’s sub-genre of decopunk) is based on the aesthetics popular in the interwar period of the 1920s/30s and extending through to the end of World War II, with some exponents also including the early 1950s. It is broadly defined as the era in which the diesel engine replaced the steam engine as the focus of technology. Within it, decopunk centres the aesthetic of art deco and streamline moderne art styles particularly prevalent to design and architecture in the same overall period.
Within that setting, Hera included a model of a Batmobile from the Michael Keaton era of Batman films. As she notes. it was added on a whim, but seemed to fit the overall aesthetic of that build – something Hera notes she found surprising. I’ll have to state that at the time, I was not: there has tended to be a strong decopunk aesthetic to be found within most of the Batman films such that a Batmobile should feel and look at home in a dieselpunk / decopunk setting.
Drune Diesel was, sadly, relatively short-lived; it also encompassed multiple influences – Blade Runner, hints of dieselpunk films such as Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, references to Karel Čapek’s 1921 film Rossumovi Univerzální Roboti (Rossum’s Universal Robots) and even the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation from The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. With Drune Gotham, which Hera also notes was perhaps inevitable once she had set down the Batmobile within Drune Diesel, is more focused on the Gotham City / Dark Knight vibe, including touches from both the films and the Gotham TV series – although the regions should not be taken to be purely as reflective of the Batman / Dark Knight mythos as presented on screen.
One of the first things I noticed with this build is that it includes several elements from Drune Diesel: awaiting (re)discovery are both the Shanghai Dragon restaurant and the marvellously deco Black Pussy nightclub, both of which deserve a further breath of life given how brief a time Drune Diesel sadly had to breathe. There’s also a noticeable difference between this and earlier versions of Drune in that this does not have any “outer” / “coastal” elements, instead it is enclosed, with a backdrop of densely packed tall buildings to give the impression of being in the heart of a massive metropolis like Gotham.
But it is in the Dark Knight references in which this setting really shines. From the elevated tracks along which trams, rather than speeding trains, clank bump, to the gates of Arkham Asylum, there are multiple motifs from the films and the TV series (and touches from the comics) awaiting discovery. These trams rumble past the tall finger of the Wayne Enterprises HQ, for example, a place you can enter through the street-level lobby and then ride the elevator to the CEO’s office, a place that has the sense of being the workspace of Wayne Senior rather than Bruce – although the scribblings on the desk tend to suggest the sometimes distracted mind of Michael Keaton’s Bruce Wayne. There is also a secret to be found within this office, of which more in a moment.
The aforementioned Black Pussy can be found across the street from Wayne Enterprises, as can the lobby of Drune Diesel’s Hotel, reached via the stairs that sit between the Wayne building and the diner next door (there’s an alternate route via a far escape that overlooks Gotham Park on the other side of the Wayne Enterprises building, but I’ll leave you to discover that). The hotel appears to have been expanded since its Drune Diesel days, now offering a deco spa as well as rooms above its lobby.
Across another road from the hotel entrance and diner is the headquarters of the GCPD. On stepping through the front doors of this, it is hard not to expect Ben McKenzie’s Jim Gordon and Donal Logue’s Harvey Bullock from the Gotham TV series turn towards the doors in response to your arrival. Elsewhere in the city, the Arkham Asylum carries within it the Gothic menace that marked its appearance in the films, whilst the Apex Chemical Plant also awaits discovery. Whilst this appeared in the comics (the Case of the Chemical Syndicate), Apex was actually combined with Ace Chemicals (from Man Behind the Red Hood!) to form Axis Chemicals in the first Keaton Batman outing, the place where Jack Napier was transformed into The Joker.
In continuing a walk around Drune Gotham’s streets, visitors might also come across the Gotham City College (from the TV series), with interior spaces to explore, the Gotham City bank (complete with vault) and a new burlesque club (which I have no idea as to whether it is tied to the Batman mythos) and which again offers interior spaces. These, with the likes of the plant, Wayne Enterprises, the hotel, etc., serve to give Drune Gotham a greater depth than perhaps has been present in other Drune iterations. Also, as a Brit I couldn’t help but smile at the English lean towards things: adverts for Cadbury’s chocolate, Fry’s Chocolate Cream (which had me wanting to rush up to the local shop and buy a bar or two, it’s been so long wince I’ve enjoyed it!) and more, all of why give this Gotham an slightly anglophile feel to it which simply didn’t feel out-of-place.
Nor is this all: look hard enough and you’ll find Bane’s office and, perhaps more interestingly, the Batcave, that sits with the Batmobile parked at the ready on its turntable (despite also being parked outside the Wayne Enterprises offices!) and various consoles providing assorted information as well as the expected bats circling around it. However, the closet for the batsuit is empty, suggesting Bruce is out and about as his alter ego! While this can be found by camming, the “proper” way into it might be a little harder to discover; all I’ll say is that it is to be found back within the Wayne office, and that bookcases may not always simply be for books (or posing).
Offered under an environment setting which really should be used when visiting (as I have for the pictures here), and finished with a truly fitting sound scape, Drune Gotham really does make for a an engaging visit, one that carries within it a wonderful noir-esque feel that also carries over from Drune Diesel, and which is even more suited to the core theme of this build. In this respect, Hera additional offers a noir-style story in the setting’s introductory note card for those who grab it.
In closing, I would add that a major part of the magic of Hera’s builds – along with her imagination – is that Hera creates many of the elements and textures found in her builds herself, rather than using available kits, etc., available through the Marketplace. This adds up to an incredible amount of work on her part, all for our benefit; so if you could offer the bat bears to be found within the setting some Linden Dollar love to further Hera’s efforts, they would very much be appreciated.