Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Review: Gotham Central #1-9











So, I've seen these Batman related comics having to do with the Gotham City Police Department. I was really interested when I first heard about them; Gotham Central, Gordon'a Law, GCPD, etc. I was finally able to get my hands on a good batch of these comics, starting with Gotham Central. And holy fuckin' potatoes, I was not disappointed. Imagine something like Law & Order or CSI, but better and with a dash of the dark knight. That's what you get with Gotham Central. I have finished the first nine issues and I am begging for more.


The Gotham Central issues I have were written by Ed Brubaker(#1-5), who wrote the first 14 issues to the Eisner award winning series, and one of my personal favs, The Immortal Iron Fist in the mid-2000s, and Greg Rucka(#1-9), who wrote Batman #587 which is issue 1 of the Officer Down series(aside from some other issues he has done during the No Man's Land series, I haven't read anything else he has done). The issues were illustrated, beautifully I might add, by Michael Lark, who illustrated issues #1-9 of Terminal City. Lets get started with Lark's work. Fucking amazing stuff. It is a type of noirish look as he used heavy shades and shadows. You can really see this in the character's faces as the shadows help define what mood the character is in. Typical, less dramatic scenes, pretty much have the character with no shadows at all, but when things get intense, you start seeing the dark illustrations and really get sucked into the atmosphere of what the character is feeling. Really gripping stuff. Plus, his illustrations of Batman kind of remind me of Frank Miller's Year One Batman, which is really cool.

As for the writing, Brubaker and Rucka know their shit. From casual cop conversations to using dialogue like “stiff” and phrases like “he's good police” sells the fact that these are cops. You get all the classic stuff like arguments with the captain, great chemistry between the various partners that do cases, all the basic staples that you would expect from a cop drama. But the story ideas take the damn cake. I've never enjoyed or respected the idea of a great plot until I read Gotham Central. The suspense and thrill from a good detective story rivals that of Batman's own experiences. Yes, this series IS THAT FUCKING GOOD. Now, I'm going to try and give synopsis of what I've read with only giving away a few spoilers. Normally, I really don't care, but from what I've read so far, this series is so good, I want everyone to experience it for themselves. So, if you don't want anything spoiled, I suggest you stop reading now and get your hands on this series.

I love the shades in this comic
The first story arc in the series are issues one and two, entitled, “In the Line of Duty.” Marcus Driver and his partner Charlie Fields are investigating a kidnapping. They get a lead that the kidnapper may be in a hotel. They go to investigate only to find that the person renting the room is Mr. Freeze. Freeze kills Fields and leaves Marcus Driver alive. The investigation then turns into a case about Freeze and what his plans are for Gotham. The story arc then continues into issues 3-5 called, “Motive.” Marcus Driver continues Charlie Fields case of a missing girl. Now, the Mr. Freeze plot ends in issue two but I want to talk about both plots from issues 1-5. Why? Because I think Marcus Driver has become one of my new favorite comic book characters of all time. After witnessing the death of his partner, he kind of takes a personal crusade to stop Mr. Freeze and then continue his late partner's case. Some would say this could be a typical detective/cop story, but Driver has one part that really comes out that you don't really see in any other Batman comic. A hate for the Batman. Not meaning, he wants Batman to die or anything like that, but he wants to prove to him throughout these story arcs that the public servants of Gotham can take down villains like Freeze. Driver is smart, determined and pretty much a great definition of what a good detective is. In the Freeze story arc, he discovers where Freeze will strike, but has to resort to calling on Batman due to the time constraint(and to save lives). But during the “Motive” story arc, GCPD takes down the villain Firebug which concluded with a great scene of Driver using the Bat-signal to “summon” the caped crusader and basically just tell him that they solved the case without him. Though, Batman doesn't really care, it takes fucking balls to stand up to the dark knight. I can only hope that Marcus Driver gets more involved with other story arcs further in the series.

Driver stands up to Batman
Gotham Central then continues into a story arc called, “Half a Life.” Now, technically, this series stretches from issues 6-10, but I only have up to 9(so sue me, ok?). It focuses on Renee Montoya, which is probably the most recognizable Gotham detective besides Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock. Renee had several story arcs in other Batman comics, like in No Man's Land where her family was held captive by Two Face and she forced to play bailiff in Harvey Dent's cruel trial against Jim Gordon. She is a Hispanic detective that is partnered with Crispus Allen, an african american detective that shares a stunning resemblance to Rude from Final Fantasy VII...I like how I can link a Batman related comic to FFVII. Montoya and Allen are two of the best in the MCU(Major Crimes Unit) and this story arc opens with Montoya being sued by a former arrest she made on a rapist that walked free. She then discovers that she is being followed and documented by a private investigator hired by the rapist when she finds a picture of her and her lover, Daria, is posted in the main lobby of MCU. Montoya is outed as a lesbian and is then framed for the murder of the rapist that was soon found dead. Montoya's story through this arc is so complex and a real page turner. As weird as this sounds, Montoya being a lesbian made her cooler to me. I don't know if that's just the way it is or that thinking that since someone's character is gay and it makes my view toward them positive, is just another example of how ignorant and foolish I am towards those that are homosexual. So take it whatever way you want, but Renee Montoya is a great character in this series.

Renee Montoya and her lover, Daria
I really want to dive deeper but I must restrain myself. Gotham Central is a definite must read. Upon further investigation of the series, I have learned that it is a 40 issue series. This confuses me because it's so damn good, but according to Wikipedia, the series was very popular and highly acclaimed from those that read it, but it never made enough sales to keep it going. A damn shame if you ask me. If you like great detective stories in the city of Batman, you will thoroughly enjoy this series. I can't wait to get the rest of them!


2 comments:

  1. You know I can see that. The idea sounds like "Cop Rock" until you think about the mechanics of it. 80 issues! I'm surprised I've never heard of it before. Thanks for the heads up Tom.

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  2. It is definitely a must get. Actually, I'm pretty sure it is only 40 issues.

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