Gotham Central 12-15

No One Will Give The GCPD More Trouble Than The Clown Prince Of Crime!

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 preeminent. 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 these issues show 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 in issue 12 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 still in issue 12 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 issue 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.

mac and azeveda reacting to joker

See what Probson does.

probson turns on the bat signal

Now in issue 13 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!

new mayor loses his lunch

There are many things that happen in issue 14 but I can't help noticing that the Joker throws around laptops like they were tissue paper.

In issue 14 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 at the end of issue 14. Michael Lark manages to avoid drawing the Joker as caricature - this is one of the best renditions of the Joker I've ever seen.

joker close-up

In the last issue of this arc 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.

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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