Writers: Ed Brubaker & Greg Rucka | Art: Michael Lark, Stefano Gaudiano, & Michael Clark
This isn’t really a review. But, I’ve been reading the Gotham Central series over the last couple of weeks, and I wanted to just give it a quick mention on the website. I also noticed that DC Comics are publishing a new omnibus edition next year (something they’ve been doing for a number of their classic, best-selling, and completed series). First, here’s the synopsis:
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.
This Eisner Award-winning series follows the detectives of Gotham City’s Special Crimes Unit as they navigate against the city’s greatest villains–in the shadow of Batman himself. Collects issues #1-40.
If you are a fan of crime fiction, and certainly if you’re a fan of Brubaker’s crime, thriller, and mystery comics, then I think you’ll find a lot to love in this series. It focuses on the lives and work of Gotham City’s M.C.U. (major crimes unit), and follows them as they navigate their jobs in a city that has become overrun by “freaks” (meta-humans and super-criminals). As with all of Brubaker’s and Rucka’s best work, it is also as much about the characters’ personal lives as it is about chasing the Joker, the Mad Hatter, or other villains. The series provides a fascinating and engaging glimpse into how law enforcement operates in the shadow of the Batman — both grateful that he is able to do things that they can’t, but also angry that he often gets in the way, or makes them look bad.
The stories that make up the series are quite varied, and do much of what the best crime/mystery fiction does: that is, take familiar genre tropes, but presented from interesting and original angles, with added examinations of contemporary political, cultural, and social issues: for example, police and political corruption, police brutality, LGBT issues, and more — and yes, many of these issues are of course connected with law enforcement. Pretty much all of the characters feel fully-rounded, and we quickly become invested in their fates and careers. Some of the characters were sort-of familiar to me, but many were new (wholly or mostly), and both writers, in conjunction with the artists, bring the characters brilliantly to life on the page.
I don’t want to get particularly granular in the series. But to sum up, I will say this series has been a great read. I often have a two-graphic novel limit, before I need to take a break, but I read all four of the original collections back-to-back, and was pretty much hooked from the start. I think I can confidently say that Gotham Central is not only one of the best DC series I’ve read, but probably one of the best series published by any publisher.
Very highly recommended.
The new omnibus edition of Gotham Central is due to be published by DC Comics in North America and in the UK, on April 12th, 2023.