14 December 2010

Faster than a DC Bullet: Gotham Central, Part IV: On the Freak Beat

Comic hardcover, 222 pages
Published 2010 (contents: 2004-05)

Borrowed from the library
Read December 2010
Gotham Central, Book Three: On the Freak Beat

Written by Greg Rucka & Ed Brubaker
Pencils by Michael Lark, Stefano Gaudiano, Jason Alexander
Inks by Stefano Gaudiano, Jason Alexander, Kano, Gary Amaro
Colors by Lee Loughridge
Letters by Clem Robins

The best story in this book is Greg Rucka's "Lights Out," a single-issue tale that follows on from some of the events in the main Batman titles that I haven't read. Part of the peril of reading stories in collections like this-- apparently the Batman's relationship with the police really soured in that story-- is that major events happen in them that you don't know about. It makes sense that the Batman books would drive this one, but it's really unfortunate that we don't get to see exactly what happened, given the relationship between the Batman and the police is what Gotham Central is all about. Anyway, the G.C.P.D. takes down the Bat-Signal to repudiate any connection with him whatsoever, and we get to see reflections by a number of the characters on what the Batman and the Bat-Signal meant to them. I really liked Montoya's moment: "I was maybe seventeen, I was in my bedroom at my parents' apartment, it was late.... There'd been this story in the news, how the water supply had been poisoned. Everyone in the city was scared. I looked out my window." Crispus Allen, coming from Metropolis where you can trust your superheroes, is all for taking it down, on the other hand. And then you have the mayor, who says tourists expect to see the Bat-Signal. It's a nice summation of the G.C.P.D.'s often complicated relationship with the Batman, the relationship that drives this book.

The rest of the stories here are okay, but not great. There's a Catwoman tale by Ed Brubaker that didn't do much for me, where she interacts with Josie Mac some. Jason Alexander's ugly art doesn't help. The revelations about Josie Mac could be good, but the series never really follows them up. The book is book-ended by two Renee Montoya stories by Greg Rucka. It opens with "Corrigan," about a corrupt crime scene investigator, and ends with "Keystone Kops," where one of the Flash's rogues gallery comes to Gotham to cause problems. The first is fairly insubstantial, and the second focuses on an uninteresting villain too much to work, though I did like the stuff about Montoya and her father.

Unfortunately, this is probably the weakest set of Gotham Central stories thus far, especially given that at this point, the series' end was imminent. It's probably the lack of strong Batman stuff again; the books don't quite work when they're just generic cop stories with the occasional supervillain.

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