Gotham Central, vol. 1

Gotham Central 1Summary: Gotham City: a town teeming with corrupt cops, ruthless crime lords, petty thieves … and just a small handful that would oppose them. Grizzled veteran Harvey Bullock, Captain Maggie Sawyer, detective Renee Montoya and the GCPD are the law force that stands between order and complete anarchy. Gotham’s Finest work around the clock to not only keep the world’s most psychotic criminals off the street… but also cleaning up the mess left behind by Batman’s one-man war on crime.

Written by critically acclaimed authors Ed Brubaker (Captain America) and Greg Rucka (52, DETECTIVE COMICS), this Eisner Award-winning series follows the detectives of Gotham City’s Special Crimes Unit as they navigate the against the city’s greatest villains — in the shadow of Batman himself.

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Gotham Central, vol. 1, by Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka and Michael Lark 7.5

‘Gotham Central’ was a series that revolved around Gotham City Police Department, looking at the work that its officers did behind the scenes, in the shadow of the Batman. It’s essentially a police procedural with supervillains.

Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have been drawn to this book if not for Ed Brubaker’s involvement in the series as one of its co-writers (in fact, I only heard about it while searching my local public library for anything he’d done).

For starters, I’m not a huge police procedural fan; they’re entertaining, but they don’t draw me in. And frankly, I’m not sure that I care what the GCPD are up to. There are plenty of cop stories… what makes this one special?

“Meet Gotham’s Finest”, the book says.

Meh.

Well, Brubaker and Rucka were about to prove their worth.

The book begins with a two-parter about two cops who follow a weak lead in a kidnapping case and stumble upon Mr. Freeze. One guy gets frozen and shattered into pieces, while his partner is forced to watch, hands frozen together.

Naturally, the cops want to find Freeze, but they decide to keep the investigation in-house – to not involve Batman. They eventually figure out what Freeze is up to – but it’s bigger than them, so they relent and call in the Bat.

The second story involves Firebug, and it actually ties into the kidnapping case that started the book, as our survivor gets a new partner and they start putting the pieces together, discovering that the kidnapping may be something else.

Since it’s a three-parter, and because aspects of it had already been touched upon in the first two books, this one felt more fleshed out, more complete. It’s still a police procedural, and some of it was predictable, but it was a fairly good read.

I really do like the concept, I must say: approaching Gotham’s underworld from the other side, not from Batman or the villains’ perspective is kind of cool; it fleshes out one’s understanding. Those who like cop stories will no doubt enjoy this.

I should have known that Brubaker (and Rucka) would find a way to make gritty crime stories set in Gotham worth reading. I’m no great fan of his superhero books, but his noir and other less mainstream works are superior to most writers’ works.

So it follows that ‘Gotham Central’ is no exception.

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