Posted October 2010 | Updated : March 13, 2011 | May 3, 2012 | August 6, 2015

Previous: Selected Tales from Detective Comics

Gotham Central

Gotham Central is a series about the Gotham City Police Department Major Crime Unit (GCPD-MCU). This makes Gotham Central a part of the Batman family of comics. There are many enjoyable reads in the forty issues that comprise the complete run of Gotham Central and this article will highlight some aspect of each story arc in the series. For now, I'd like to mention some tidbits about the series :

  1. First, Gotham Central is a collaboration between two acclaimed writers - Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker - and one fantastic artist - Michael Lark. At the time, Michael was still busy on a previous project but instead of looking for another artist, Greg and Ed chose to wait. It had to be Michael Lark because of the artist's particularly effective way of drawing real life scenes and characters. Which brings us to the second point . . .

  2. Gotham Central is a police procedural. The Dark Knight is here, to be sure and so is Robin, and other costumed heroes make an appearance. But these are cameos. Front and center are the men and women of the GCPD. If you like Law & Order you'll like Gotham Central.

  3. The third point I want to make is about Gotham Central's reception. It was critically acclaimed but sales were a disappointment. One thing to note is that it appealed to a limited group of fans, but these fans adored the series and made a lot of noise for it not to be cancelled. If anything else, this should be indicative of the sheer quality of the work. Reading about the story behind the events leading up to the final issue, I believe it was cancelled not because of the poor sales but because Marvel enticed both Brubaker and Lark to sign exclusive contracts and Rucka did not want to go on with the series without his co-creators.

  4. Lastly, the sales of the collected books seem to be in direct contrast to the single issues. Gotham Central has been released in trade paperback form thrice and in hardcover once. The latest trade paperback is a deluxe edition. I recommend the hardcovers since they contain the complete works in chronological order.

Gotham Central is an inspired work from some top talent who love the world of the Batman and who took a chance to do the work because they wanted to create something wonderful.

And they did.

And with that, let's begin:

The first story arc is called "In The Line Of Duty" I keep asking myself if it's the plot that makes "In The Line of Duty" so good. The plot is certainly solid, but another word keeps getting into my head. Depth. It's the way the plot, subplot, threads and details go together to create a realistic dimension to the tale. Depth. One effect is having an immersive story; I'm drawn into the tale, interested in every detail. The other effect is being able to stand multiple readings. I have read "In The Line of Duty" several times, each time I discover something new or have a new idea about something I've read before - and everytime I've enjoyed the read.

The first few pages takes us into the early morning hours just in time for the end of the night shift and the beginning of the day shift in the GCPD. You know how the end of day at work feels like - you're a bit tired, looking forward to going home. The feel of it is captured in these pages. It doesn't matter if you're reading this on a weekend or on the start of day. That particular end-of-work feel is captured by the drawn panels of this comic. That is magical.

In the midst of this overarching end-of-day mood, we go with Detectives Fields and Driver for just one more check on the streets of Gotham - a small thing at the end of their shift where they encounter the deadly Mr. Freeze. Within the duration of this encounter, we are made to experience several things:  Charlie Field's desire to go home to his wife; both officer's belief that they are investigating a dead end; the brutality of Mr. Freeze; the casual amorality of his partner Danny; the impact, on both Detectives, of meeting one of Batman's foes; the effect of the whole incident on the morning routine of the GCPD; the slightly antagonistic relationship between Captain Sawyer and Lieutenant Probson because of the promotion issue or because Captain Maggie Sawyer is gay - we don't really know; Stacy's role in the GCPD and so on and so forth. Layer upon rich layer in only a few pages and panels that is indicative of nothing less than great story telling chops. Delightful but unsurprising - Rucka and Brubaker are legends in the making even before Gotham Central.

And the details, the glorious, wonderful details. Like Driver losing his shoes to Mr. Freeze's icy ray and having to put on sneakers from his locker - showing that he doesn't have backup leather shoes on hand; or how subtly careful Montoya is in questioning Driver about an incident were he lost his partner; and how Sarge's personality affords him some level of tactlessness even in such a sensitive moment and we understand why; or how Driver's mood changes dramatically from when he is kidding around with Field's at the beginning to after he sees his partner killed. It's delightfully never in-your-face but very subtle, it just sinks in as you go through the tale that Driver has been deeply affected. This is writing that respects the readers intelligence and gives layers of texture to the tale. Depth.

Ok. I have to stop myself now even though I could go on and on about the writing. Let's go into the art. Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka had to wait a year for Michael Lark. One option was to simply get another artist but no, they wanted Lark. Gotham Central wasn't going to be a superhero book, the visuals would be street level, the artist would be depicting regular people wearing normal clothes in places like precincts, shops and sidewalks. There would be lots of common stuff like cars and cabinets and guns and the artist would somehow have to convey the story by the body movements of people wearing a full suit of clothes or by facial expressions. Rucka and Brubaker knew they couldn't just draft anybody, they wanted Lark. But Michael was more than just a hired hand. Rucka refers to him as one of the three fathers of Gotham Central. Michael even went to the trouble of creating a 3D model of the precinct just to be able to have a reference for how it looks from any angle. That says a lot about why the art turned out as well as it did. I keep at looking at people's faces as I read the story - at Nora's face standing there in the morgue looking at Charlie's mangled corpse; at Driver's face while Sarge tells him about how Charlie regarded the Batman; at Detective Allen's body language when confronted with the efforts to disentangle Larry's frozen corpse. A raised eyebrow here, a grimace there. Lark is able to use the faces and the body movements to draw us deeper. I love the heavy inks, conveying a mood rivaled only by the "Daydreams and Believers" story arc later on in the series.

And the layouts. In particular the scenes in the precinct were Michael is able to convey the spaciousness of the room because of the high ceilings; or the raised angle of vision on top of the stairs so we can see Fields and Driver exchanging friendly banter; looking out from the shadows of an abandoned truck at a nervous cop as he discovers Larry's frozen corpse; or that one moment, frozen in time, when day shift leader Sawyer comes into 'her' office unexpectedly encountering night shift leader Probson coming out of 'his' office - Michael Lark is able to convey the relationship between these two just by the angle of their heads.

Noelle Giddings uses a palette here that's primarily based on earth tones with associated light colors like ice blue or light green that blends well with the core palette. Red is used to highlight panel details here and there. Panels featuring Mr. Freeze jump out because of the heavy use of primaries - it all helps to support Rucka's and Brubaker's handling of the costumed Freeze. Batman panels are shadowy and darker than the usual. Extremely well -balanced coloring.

I've chosen these moody landscape panels to represent the art. The first shows the GCPD and the next one shows the Gotham sky with the bat signal. I'm looking at these panels for the umpteenth time and they make me want to walk inside and into Gotham. Enjoy.

Batman Gotham Central : cityscape

Batman Gotham Central : cityscape

Writers Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka tackled the the first story arc of Gotham Central together. Henceforth,  they have decided to divide the writing work between them, with only the occasional, presumably, extra special storylines, being Brubaker/Rucka collaborations.

The arrangement is for Brubaker to handle the stories involving the night shift with Rucka handling the day shift.

With that, we have Brubaker scripting the "Motive" story arc; as for the rest of the team, they remain the same except for color separation which is now Lee Loughridge and the strangely named Zylonol.

Overall quality is maintained from the previous storyline,  "In The Line of Duty". There is a difference though. "Motive" feels "blockier", as if it was written in bigger chunks. There could be several reasons for that. First of all we are working with a smaller team from the GCPD, just the night shift group this time.  Actually just two pairs of detectives : Romy Chandler and Marcus Driver plus Nate Patton and Sarge. Also, "Motive" takes up three issues, while "In The Line of Duty" took up two.

Why must a debate end when it gets to Hitler? It doesn't really, but in the GCPD it does. We are acquainted with this quaint rule when the story opens with some banter between Josh Azevedo and Sarge in the GCPD pantry. I could almost taste the coffee role Sarge is biting into - thanks Michael Lark. I have half a mind to get a coffee roll for breakfast tomorrow. Except at the GCPD it isn't morning. It's around 6 at night. All the scenes in this arc will open at around 6 or so, indicating the night shift, and, for us, Brubaker at the scripting helm.

Early on, we are acquainted with "the board" they have been talking about since issue one. It's nothing more than a listing of each detective, and, under the Detective's name, the caseload he or she is leading - overdue cases in red, I suppose. Here's a shot of the board.

Batman Gotham Central : the gcpd case board

Some curious names in the case listings: Idelson is the Gotham Central Editor, Bendis presumably is the powerhouse writer Brian Michael Bendis, Levitz must be Paul Levitz, Legion of Super-Heroes scribe extraordinaire, Khan would be Jeannette Kahn, former publisher of DC, Johns could be Geoff Johns, DCs main writer circa 2011, soon to be inker then penciller Stefano Gaudiano is also listed. You'll also note, that under the late Detective Charlie Fields, who perished in issue 1, is one case - the Lewis case. "Motive" is about the Lewis case and Marcus Driver's determination to resolve it as a tribute to his former partner.

While you're reading, pay attention to the dynamics of beautiful Detective Romy Chandler, Marcus Driver and Nate Patton. Patton obviously feels some kind of "ownership" of Romy Chandler, his usual partner, because he has a crush on her.

Kudos to colorist Noelle Giddings for making the morgue feel like a morgue -dark and tomblike.

Batman Gotham Central : the morgue

Here's how good the team of Brubaker and Lark really are : Chandler and Driver are attempting to solve the kidnapping/murder of teenager Bonnie Lewis. They go to meet Bonnie's parents to ask further questions. Romy Chandler is asking if their daughter had any enemies. The father begins to say that his daughter was popular and had no enemies but the Mother knows otherwise. Look at how this two panels play out.

Batman Gotham Central : dad looks at mom

Look at the panel on the right when Dad looks at Mom and how it says volumes with no captions or dialogue balloons necessary. This is why Brubaker and Rucka waited for Lark to do the art for this series.

Another question from Romy Chandler about a possible diary. Dad says 'no' yet again, but, the Mom knows otherwise. Look at the look on the Dad's face.

Batman Gotham Central : dad looks at mom yet again

With those few panels it's communicated that the Dad isn't as involved with his daughter as he thought. Quiet, powerful scripting and art - this is the appeal of Gotham Central. 

Here's another pair of panels with Driver and Chandler talking in the car while on a stakeout. Look at their faces - something is happening with these two.

Batman Gotham Central : driver and chandler share a quiet moment in the car

I am well  aware that not every artist can be so subtle with their linework. Michael Lark continues to impress.

Here's Michael Lark's pencil and inks and Noelle Giddings' colors showing Driver and Chandler in the dead of night in a park.

Batman Gotham Central : driver and chandler looking in a park at night

I can feel the quiet, the enclosing trees, the glare of the flashlight. Layout is outstanding. I'm thinking that this is how someone who really knows how to draw executes a panel, simple, no ego whatsoever, just talent. And Giddings keeps picking the right colors.

Here's Sarge giving a Quick Response Team (QRT) some instructions before they bust into a place.

Batman Gotham Central : sarge gives instructions to the team

Here's the poor guy inside busting out the expletive and throwing his tv remote.

Batman Gotham Central : the original firebug throws the remote

Here's the QRT reacting to that

Batman Gotham Central : police fire on firebug I

Here's Sarge's comment about the whole thing.

Batman Gotham Central : sarge makes a comment

The buildup is wonderful and Brubaker and company nail the ending. Two storylines in, the bar for Gotham Central remains high.

For the next story arc Greg Rucka takes the writing helm, so we know we are going to be dealing with the day shift of the GCPD (If Brubaker writes, he'll tackle the night shift). The focus on this story arc is on two cops in particular, partners Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen. They're both destined for higher things in the DC Universe. Montoya will become the Question.Crispus Allen, even better, will become the Spectre.

But not for this storyline. For now, they're just two cops working the Major Crime Unit (MCU). Very early in the first issue, I noticed a slight change in the art. I checked if Michael Lark was still drawing this, and he was, but I note that Noelle Giddings has left as colorist and we have Matt Hollingsworth taking over. I compared Gidding's coloring of the series with this one and her approach yields higher contrasts between Lark's foreground and background elements, as well as an overall lighter palette. Hollingsworth's approach results in closer color match between background and foreground resulting in 'cozier' and slightly darker (but not dimmer) panels. It's not bad. Michael Lark seems to be doing a rougher sketch. Look at this panel showing the GCPD pantry.

Batman Gotham Central : gcpd pantry from issue 3

Then look at this.

Batman Gotham Central : gcpd pantry from issue 6

It's rougher, less precise inking right? And you can also see the coloring differences between Giddings and Hollingsworth.

Did I say art? Yes, let's get into the art. Michael Lark's art. It is, for want of a better word. Incredible. Look at this scene were a man called Paul Marra has been invited to the precinct. He's a drug addict. Look at the way Michael depicts him holding himself at the right of the panel below. The angle of the body. It's subtle but Michael shows just the right level of awkwardness and coordination issues to let on that this guy isn't together physically.

Batman Gotham Central : a junkie in gcpd

The art has me lingering at the occasional panel and marvelling at the subtlety of Lark's work.

Lark's art has not become less impressive - in fact, the rough edges I detected are gone, but it is Rucka's story that takes center stage now. I'm getting pulled in and I like it. The first story, "In the Line of Duty" was about the GCPD's manic hunt for Mr. Freeze, who had just killed Charlie Fields, one of their own - this initial arc had both Rucka and Brubaker doing the scripts. Brubaker handled the "Motive" story arc which was a straight-on M.C.U. case worked by the nightshift team of Marcus Driver and Romy Chandler. For this arc, we get to see Renee Montoya under attack by assailants unknown; her life slowly unravelling beneath her.

Although this arc is primarily about Renee, we also get to see a lot of her partner Cris Allen. At this point in the series, Allen and Montoya are the most well-defined members of the MCU - it's partly because of the way Rucka is writing this tale but also because of the laserlike focus on this pair. It's all very engaging.

At this point we also have a new colorist in Lee Loughridge. Lee likes to tint related panels. I'm seeing sepia and moss green tones. Once again, its a change but not a bad change. All the colorists so far go well with Lark's heavy inkwork and adds a different character to the art that's interesting to compare to each other.

Batman has been flitting in and out of Gotham Central since the beginning of the series but it's the first time I'm mentioning him because this is his most significant appearance - the others are cameos that could have been left off (and yes, I know he did nab Mr. Freeze in the initial story arc). Montoya gets out of the GCPD "radar" here and its up to Batman to track her down and free her - as usual, he is competent and deadly and best of all, everybody who sees him, whether cop or criminal, just about wet their pants. I love the treatment of the Batman as more myth than man.

Well its been three story arcs and all of them fantastic. At this point, I just want Gotham Central to go on forever.

Among the cops at Gotham Central is a temp called Stacy whose a data encoder/receptionist and my favorite character. This story arc is her story arc.

Brian Hurtt takes over the drawing chores and Lee Loughridge does the colors. The pair give Gotham red skies, which is something to see. Particularly in this panel when the skies can be seen in the bay windows of Gotham Central.

Batman Gotham Central : red skyscape through window

Then the absolute last panel of this issue is a landscape of Gotham with the train in the center, this time the city is red. Gritty, moody landscape. Very nice.

Batman Gotham Central : bird's eye view cityscape

Well, after the drama and action of the first three story arcs, this story is a welcome break. It fleshes out some of the other characters, particularly Sarge, and gives an update to some side stories from the previous run. But Stacy is the one that shines here against the backdrop of 'the second most corrupt institution in the U.S'. I didn't know Gotham Central was that dirty.

I did mention before that this is Gotham and Batman is here and so are the villains associated with him. We got a taste of these costumed baddies in 'In The Line of Duty' the first story arc and the rather long 'Half A Life'. In both cases the villains were given there due, reactions in the precinct and the street were thoughtfully crafted by Brubacker and Rucka. In 'Soft Targets' another Batman villain makes his appearance. But not all villains are equal, among the bad guys in Gotham the Joker is pre-eminent. Part of the joy of 'Soft Targets' is the satisfaction of seeing the cops react to Joker and compare this with their reaction to the previous baddies. As I said, in the Batman universe, the Joker is the villain, and this story arc shows it.

Hey this is a comicbook right? How about we put in a discussion of the municipal budget? Nah, nobody does that in a comic. Wrong! It happens here and I love it. Right at the beginning, the Mayor and the Police Commissioner bargain about the GCPD budget. I enjoyed following the quite sensible opinions of both as they kicked the issue around. Aside from being fun to read, this discussion makes me aware that the cops are working people, they have shifts, they do overtime. I become aware of this as the series moves on and it adds to the believability of the GCPD aspect of the stories. This, in turn, makes the superhero/supervillain aspect stand out. Brilliant, just like Marvels.

I won't spoil things for you but there is a story buildup that culminates in an incident in a schoolyard during the wrap up of the investigation. Even when the writing moves from one storyline to the next the buildup keeps on moving along getting bigger and bigger until Bang! The schoolyard scene - and the story isn't even finished yet.

Right after that, watch how the cops react when they see that they are, in fact, up against the Clown Prince of Crime. Priceless. See how Azeveda and Mac react.

Batman Gotham Central : mac and azeveda reacting to joker

See what Probson does.

Batman Gotham Central : probson turns on the bat signal

Now we have a 'who's in charge' fight between the Captain and the Lieutenant in front of the Commissioner. Who would put this in a comic? Brubacker and Rucka did. And it works, it works beautifully. See what the new Mayor does when faced with the prospect of throwing down with the Joker - hah!

Batman Gotham Central : new mayor loses his lunch

Then the Mayor sends the GCPD to do arrests as a publicity stunt in the middle of the case, sacrificing public safety to get political points. R is for Reality.

The Joker makes his appearance at last. Michael Lark manages to avoid drawing the Joker as caricature - this is one of the best renditions of the Joker I've ever seen.

Batman Gotham Central : joker close-up

In the end the Joker comes in for some level of punishment. If I hadn't read Batman: The Killing Joke I would wonder how the Joker is able to subject himself to that. But I did read the Killing Joke so I know why. As I said, the deeper your knowledge of Batman lore the better Gotham Central gets.

This is the best story arc so far.

'Life is Full of Disappointments' begins with a funeral. When you actually feel sad about the demise of a fictional character it's a sure sign that the creative team is doing a fine job. So it is with Gotham Central.

In the last issue of this story arc the Huntress makes an appearance. That's right, The Huntress. I just took a glance at JSA Classified which portrayed the current Huntress and the Earth 2 Huntress. The portrayals were larger than life. Sexy. Dangerous. Super-heroic. With that you just have to see how the Huntress is portrayed here: It's like a regular girl went out and bought a Huntress costume for Halloween. That's how she's portrayed. Another great case for Gotham Central being a wonderful respite from the regular superhero fare.

Batman Gotham Central : huntress standing in house

One last thing worth mentioning is Detective Tommy Burke. In this three-issue run he is drawn by artist Greg Scott. And he stands out somehow. The face more expressive. He almost jumps out of the page at you, more than any other character in the arc he seems so realistic.

Batman Gotham Central : close up of detective burke

So I'm looking at how Michael Lark renders people and they are so individual -just like in real life.

I've read my share of Batman but I'm no diehard. From reading those books I only remember two names from the GCPD: Commissioner Gordon and Harvey Bullock. Bullock is no longer a member of the GCPD, he was alluded to in a previous arc as having had to turn over his badge. He's front and center in this story though.

We get an early allusion to our next villain - the Mad Hatter.

Batman Gotham Central : patch inside baseball cap

Yup, looking good - in a bad way.

Batman Gotham Central : jervis tetch

We learn why Harvey Bullock is not a detective anymore. The guy's gold, he deserves that he's a legend. And you know why? Because he considered friendship a higher bond than duty.

Harvey Bullock's face. Michael Lark nails it again. I'm ready to give this guy his own comicbook - Harvey not Michael. Michael already has his own comicbook.

Batman Gotham Central : harvey bullock

So I'm looking at the goings-on at the MCU and I realize that I like reading Gotham Central because these cops like what they do. It's the same reason why I like the movie The Paper, it was about a bunch of journalists who are also having a great time doing regular jobs. In a world were there are people who have to force themselves out of bed in the morning, this is a great thing to read about.

Arkham was already scary with Batman in the Batman books. Here, it's like the detectives are going into a haunted house. Just look at this panel.

Batman Gotham Central : arkham asylum

I have to say that of all the villains I love the way the Mad Hatter was handled both by the writer and the artist. The details, the looks the gestures, the background information, everything was just perfectly placed.

Excellent story arc, almost as good as 'Soft Targets'.

Did you know Crispus Allen is currently the Spectre? I always liked him and this panel makes me like him even more.

Batman Gotham Central : crispus allen shoots the black spider

We take a look at GCPD's Internal Affairs department. It's not the first time they show, they had some bit parts in 'Half A Life' story arc, but they're in early in this story and we get to see the process, and we get to see behind the process, why it's necessary.

Not a single cape on this one. It reads like an episode of Law & Order.

The Avengers fight all over the world. The Green Lanterns take on the whole universe. It's possible to get tired of the sheer scope of it. Come home to Gotham Central where the biggest fight happens in offices. In this issue watch the Commissioner take on the Mayor.

Now that I've ranted against superheroes let's show one - the cowl and cape of the Bat in full effect, and no, it's not the classic swinging from a rooftop scene.

Batman Gotham Central : cowled batman

This one issue arc is much more focused than the last one issue story which was 'Daydreams and Believers'. It's also much heavier since it's about a landmark decision by the GCPD.

New artist for this arc, name's Jason Alexander. Everything's cool except the faces of guys . Ouch. Drawn like they have some kind of allergy that makes them all blotchy.

Nice stylized shot of CGPD HQ with starry backdrop shown below. The inking for this issue switches beautifully from heavy to fine lines at just the right places.

Batman Gotham Central : starry night at GCPD

Cemetery scene next. Done so good you could actually feel the frost.

Batman Gotham Central : frosty day in a cemetery

I've never seen a bondage club portrayed in a comic until now.

Batman Gotham Central : scene inside a bondage club

Okay, they're talking about No Man's Land, calling it NML, I thought it was a place, then now it looks like an event. This must be part of the Batman mythos but I'm all out of Batman lore.

Stefano Gaudiano is the artist. Reason I mention it is because I have to give credit where credit is due. Montoya has a complicated history with her father. Gaudiano captures it perfectly in a look.

Batman Gotham Central : montoya's dad

The hospital scene in this story is the most intense it has gotten so far in the series - the Joker getting a beating becomes a distant second.

If this series changes even just one homophobe, that's forty issues well spent.

Okay, right after my compliment, let it be on record that Gaudiano just illustrated the worst MCU office so far. Sloppy line work, perspective out the window. Must have been deadline time.

Batman Gotham Central : sloppy MCU drawing

Check out the Batman jump.

Batman Gotham Central : batman jumping from a building

I like that Barry Allen's name was mentioned in Keystone City in in this story but it was a tad forced into the dialogue.

If ever I need an example of a gorgeous illustration of a blonde I must remember Dr. Zolomon in this panel.

Batman Gotham Central : gorgeous dr. zolomon

The meeting with Doctor Alchemy was stolen from "Silence of the Lambs". bwahahaha.

Keystone City 'feels' different from Gotham. I don't know exactly how the creative team pulled it off. All the more impressive for being so subtle.

The way the Batman's visit in the hospital was done was just right. Very subtle but high impact. Speaks volumes about the Bat and the kind of hero he is.

All throughout Doctor Alchemy (a.k.a. poor man's Hannibal Lecter) has a mouth that's actually insultingly hilarious at times. Hannibal was never that funny.

Montoya walks away from a complement from a beat cop; I don't get that.

This is a strong story arc mainly because of what was happening to Officer Kelly. Very heavy and a heartbreak ending.

Beautiful and subtle twist at the beginning of this story, the third one-issue story of the series to date, I thought it was the girl doing the narration but it was a cop - crooked cop justifying corruption.

So the crooked beat cops refer to the Major Crimes Unit as a bunch of minorities and homos. Previous issue the MCU got referred to as the 'brains'. The smartest unit - minorities and homos. That's a backhanded compliment I think.

I was the one who said 'friendship over duty' was a good thing; this sounds suspiciously like the 'loyalty' crap being pawned by the crooked cops in this story. I think it's time to review my belief system.

Everybody who is corrupt is afraid; there's a good narrative about that in this story. And the fear comes from thinking that you live in a society where you can 'fall off the edge'. So you take care of yourself any way you can.

It's amazing, but Corrigan, whom we encountered in the 'Corrigan' story arc is right up there with the Batman villains. The upsetting thing is the Corrigan's of this world really do exist but I've yet to bump into the Penguin.

I love Poison Ivy. I love Poison Ivy. I love Poison Ivy.

This just became number one over 'Daydreams and Believers' as the best one issue story of the series.

Batman is supposed to be this terrifying figure to the underworld right? Except he never is, he's more of a colorful cape like Superman - not! He doesn't show but you'll see just how intimidating he can get from the criminal point of view.

Batman Gotham Central : only in gotham will they publish an extra in the middle of the night

The Teen Titans in the MCU!

Batman Gotham Central : titans at the MCU

The cops looking at the Titans. Priceless.

Batman Gotham Central : cops looking at titans at the MCU

In the Titans comic in the 80's Raven talked differently, typified by a wavy-lined dialogue box. They should've used it here.

We see the usual police and media relations in this storyline.

Here's something subtle and cool. Josie comes across as having a lighter mood after confessing her psychic thingie to Driver. I love it when artists pay attention to the details. They care, so I care.

Starfire. Who is S-E-X-Y and wearing her usual showy uniform appears at the MCU.

Batman Gotham Central : starfire at the MCU

Not enough? How about this comment from Simon to Montoya (who is gay).

Batman Gotham Central : simon jokes with montoya

In this arc Robin is said to have died falling off the roof. He shows up this issue and meets Stacy. This panel brings home Robin's abilities quite nicely.

Batman Gotham Central : robin jumps off a building

It's suddenly absurd to think of him getting killed by falling off the roof.

The panel below shows the most complete shot of the GCPD building yet. I like the design, it's right up there with Dr. Strange's  brownstone. Stone and glass has so much more character than glass and steel (I'm talking to you Stark Tower).

Batman Gotham Central : GCPD shot

I never realized that hero outfits were expensive, but I supposed they would be; tough, light materials and all that.

The comicbook crowd representative here is definitely Stacy; she just met Robin on the roof and look at her face. That would be my face if I met a cape.

Batman Gotham Central : stacy smiling

Having a backup bat signal is a bit too convenient.

The 'glob of ink' style Batman isn't doing it for me.

Batman Gotham Central : batman silhouette

Yet another one-issue tale, the fourth in this series.

During the start of the story, Allen is narrating, he says something about not going to Church and having an argument about it with his wife. It's one of those things that happened to me almost exactly like he said it. The commonality of human experience is a wonderful thing.

I don't understand why Montoya's beating up Corrigan kills any case against him.

Very well done shot of the Spectre. Artist is Steve Lieber.

Batman Gotham Central : the spectre in the sky

This issue is a shock because it's a tie-in to a DC wide event - Infinite Crisis. So coming from the previous issue it's like suddenly walking into a World War II bombing.

A 'circuit's are busy message . . .' another familiar element from real life.

Batman Gotham Central : circuits are busy phone message

Hah, at last,  a .38 revolver doing some damage. And here I thought Gotham Central was a strict 9mm automatic party.

Batman Gotham Central : bad guys getting shot with a .38

The story is titled 'The Spectre of Death' and I did say that Allen was going to become the Spectre. I'm coming into this story arc hoping that Corrigan gets his before the series ends at issue 40.

I'm very holier-than-thou about Corrigan but I notice he is a friend to the other blues. Fact is, if I was a blue I'd be nice to him too. I like friendship, even fake friendship.

Montoya's descent into violence is a bit to abrupt, not as organic as I'd hoped.

You know what? Going into the final story, the stories are less polished. And Lieutenant Cornwell has disappeared.  Maybe the creators know that the series is going to be cancelled and the noticeable drop in quality is because of low morale.

The buildup to getting the reader to hate Corrigan is really strong. If he doesn't get it by the end of the arc it'll be upsetting.

Crispus Allen is good police. I'm glad Captain Sawyer agrees.

The story starts to become an incredible ride. You don't want to miss it, this storyline definitely has page-turning momentum.

Take a look at Corrigan's face and tell me you don't want Corrigan to fry.

Batman Gotham Central : corrigan's sneering mug

From the series point of view this guy is bigger than any of the costumed villains; but the Joker comes a very close second.

I'm beginning the last story, looking at the cover, and I'm like 'They had better get Corrigan'.


And that's it. It is April 2006 and the series has been cancelled. You'll see snippets of the characters in the DCU specially in the Batman universe. There have been fifteen stories and now it's time to rank them.

Of the four one issue stories the finest is 'Nature' because of the incredibly satisfying ending. A close second is 'Daydreams and Believers' which is unique in the entire series in the lightness of its approach and relaxing atmosphere; the fact that it's number 2 really is a credit to 'Nature'. 'Lights Out' comes in third with its laser-like focus on Batman's relationship with the Department. You can miss 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' which is nothing more than an unnecessary bridge to the Infinite Crisis event.

Of the story arcs, the best is 'Soft Targets' closely followed by 'Unresolved'. Both share wonderful balance and the pacing for both was just right. Then check out the first arc, 'In The Line of Duty' wonderfully structured in two issues, not a panel wasted. 'Corrigan II' comes in fourth even though the art left something to be desired and the lack of the usual  details seemed to reflect low morale among the creators. It gets fourth place honors on the sheer emotional power of the storyline. 'On The Freak Beat' comes in next with its immersive art and good plot. Next is 'Motive' which of all the arcs showcases the persistence of the MCU. 'Keystone Kops' would have beaten 'Motive' on my list where it not for the unsatisfactory ending. 'Dead Robin' comes in next, though I enjoyed the cameos, I felt the pacing was off and the structure of the story was loose. Last of the arcs is 'Half a Life' which was too stretched out. None of the arcs are bad reads though. 

Thanks for joining me for this ride.

Next: Batman Hush