In a few short weeks, comics fans will be treated to Gotham, a gritty noir-styled live-action show that deals in the early days and the origins of some of the greatest heroes and villains in Gotham City, the home of one of the world’s most well-known superhero vigilantes, Batman. After the success of Arrow, Warner Bros. is launching several new shows this Fall season and Gotham is one of them, with a main cast that includes Gotham stalwarts Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock, as well as villains such as Selina Kyle, Oswald Cobblepot and others.
To mark the upcoming debut of the show, DC this week released a reprint of Gotham Central Special Edition #1, which is the prequel to Gotham Central: In The Line of Duty by Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark, three of the biggest names in comics these days. This one-shot issue deals with a regular investigation gone wrong as Mr. Freeze steps in on the scene, and shows how Gotham’s finest deal with the danger of the supervillain running loose once more in the city. Rucka and Brubaker have crafted a really engaging tale here, which is brought to life by Lark and the other artists.
Detective Charlie Fields and Marcus Driver, partners for a long time, are checking out a probable bogus tip about some kidnappers when they run into none other than Mr. Freeze, one of Gotham’s worst villains and someone who is best left to the likes of Batman or Gotham’s other costumed defenders. After getting the shock of their lives, they live the worst day of their lives, and that’s how the story really kicks off. At the same time, we get to see a really interesting scene over at Gotham Central where we learn that Maggie Sawyer has been promoted to Captain and there are hints of resentment from one of her colleagues, and the stage is set for some really great police drama.
This issue is a really intense one. Whether it is the camaraderie between Detectives Charlie and Marcus, or between Detectives Cris and Renee (Montoya I hope!) or the simmering antagonism between Captain Sawyer and Lieutenant Probson, this is a great look at the Cops of Gotham. It isn’t always that they get featured in the comics, because the action almost always rests with Batman and the other costumed heroes, so this has more of an oomph factor than it would have otherwise. And with the imminent debut of Gotham, this reprint couldn’t have come at a better time either, especially since it is written by two of the top names in comics in the last decade.
There are lots of characters here, and they all interact with each other to a greater or lesser degree. The scenes set in Gotham Central show a police HQ like any other with its own quirks and idiosyncracies and characters, and it all feels very… realistic, very… approachable. I like that. And I would like to see more as well, of course.
The central tenet of this story, which comes into play in the second half of the issue is one that I am very intrigued about. We know that Gotham can always call on Batman to help with a tough situation. We know that often Gotham’s fines have to end up relying on Batman’s particular skills and resources to take down the bad guys. But what if that wasn’t the case? What if Gotham’s finest went after the costumed freaks without Batman’s help? I loved that about this issue and I will definitely be checking out the reprint of Gotham Central: In The Line of Duty once it is out.
Michael Lark is the artist on this issue, with Willie Schubert on letters, Noelle Giddings on colours and the cover art also by Michael. Michael Lark is an artist I’m familiar with through his work on Lazarus with Greg Rucka, which is one of the best new series to have debuted from Image Comics last year. His style in this one-shot issue is a bit different than Lazarus, particularly since he is drawing with Noelle on the colours and not Santi Arcas. The characters can sometimes have glossed over features, where they don’t stand out well, and some of the body language felt odd at times but by and large, I think this was a great issue art-wise, and there is a very hard-edged look to it that I liked, all the more important given the setting and the story.
Bring on more!