The Gotham Central series has been unable to live up to the early promise of the first volume. Not that the rest of it has been bad, it’s just that first one was so very, very good. Unable to live up to it, that is, until this last book.
There are three stories in this volume. The first sees a series of bodies, dressed in Robin outfits (that’s the Boy Wonder, not the red-breasted bird) found lying around Gotham. The police are stumped and Batman becomes a suspect, since no-one knows whether these corpses are the real Robin or not, let alone who killed him. The second ties the characters into the events of DC Comics’ recent Infinite Crisis story and is really a preamble for what happens to the characters after the third story – no, we won’t spoil it for you if you aren’t already in the loop; and yes, you could almost skip this if it weren’t so well written and heartbreakingly sad, for reasons that become apparent later in the book.
The third story resurrects a storyline from the previous volume, bringing back corrupt crime scene investigator Jimmy Corrigan. It’s here where the pace really picks up – Rucka pulls no punches with his rollercoaster ride of a plot, which abandons superheroes altogether and pits cop against cop. It’s dark, gritty and ends with a bang, like all good thrillers should.
The art is, as usual, suitably dark and well-executed, despite the fact that it’s no longer Michael Lark at the pencil. Kano is a good replacement, while Gaudiano’s inks and Loughridge’s sympathetic and subdued palette of colours continue to cast a shadowy light on the crime and grime of Gotham. Even Batman’s appearances leave him looking more like a wild animal than a crime-fighter.
This is a fitting end for the series, leaving you at a point where you think you’d really like to see more. We’ll miss Gotham Central but it’s good to see a series like this go out on a great high, and Rucka, Brubaker, Lark and company have left a memorable and worthwhile collection of police procedural stories in an otherwise superficial world of capes and tights.
Other titles in the Gotham Central series:
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