Gotham Central 6-10

The Secrets Of Renee Montoya

For the next five issues 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 takes on the mantle of the Question during the post-Infinite Crisis "52" Series, while Crispus Allen will become the third host of what is arguably DC's most powerful character, 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, as well as the next four issues in the arc. But I note that Noelle Giddings has left as colorist and we have Matt Hollingsworth for this issue and the next. I compared Gidding's coloring of the first five issues 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. But for this issue only, Michael Lark seems to be doing a rougher sketch. Look at this panel showing the GCPD pantry from issue 3.

gcpd pantry from issue 3

Then look at this from issue 6.

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.

a junkie in gcpd

Issue 6 has me lingering at the occasional panel and marvelling at the subtlety of Lark's work.

By issue 7 Lark's art has not become less impressive - in fact, the rough edges I detected in issue 6 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 issue 1 and 2 was "In the Line of Duty"; it 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 handles issues 3 to 5 "Motive" 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 for five issues, no less. 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 for the next few issues. 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 first issue 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 issue 2). 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 ten issues and three story arcs and all of them fantastic. At this point, I just want Gotham Central to go on forever.

Posted by  Pete Albano - October 2010 | Updated : March 16, 2011

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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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