Gotham Central 3-5

Who Murdered Bonnie Lewis?

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 "Motive"; as for the rest of the team, they remain the same except for color separation with is now Lee Loughridge for issue 5 and Zylonol for 3 and 4.

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.

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. Why can't a guy just like a girl without having to feel that he owns her; its an absolutely slimey attitude.

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

the gcpd case board enlarge

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.

dad looks at mom enlarge

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.

dad looks at mom yet again enlarge

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 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 this two.

driver and chandler share a quiet moment in the car enlarge

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.

driver and chandler looking in a park at night enlarge

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.

sarge gives instructions to the team

Here's the poor guy using the "F" word and throwing his tv remote.

the original firebug throws the remote

Here's the QRT reacting to that

police fire on firebug I

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

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.

Posted by  Pete Albano - October 2010

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1-2 : In The Line Of Duty

3-5 : Motive

6-10 : Half A Life

11 : Daydreams and Believers

12 : Soft Targets

16-18 : Life Is Full Of Disappointments

19-22 : Unresolved

23-24 : Corrigan

25 : Lights Out

26-27 : On The Freak Beat

28-31 : Keystone Kops

32 : Nature

33-36 : Dead Robin

37 : Sunday Bloody Sunday

38 : Corrigan II

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