I’ve got nothing left. I’m done. — Renee Montoya, uttering the final line of “Gotham Central”
Right off the bat, I have to say that this article is dedicated to Tomato. The guy isn’t dead nor is he sick. But even though we haven’t met in real life yet, he has been a great friend to me. Dude is an amazing writer, always has some great ideas, always willing to help, and always there to give you the little push you need. If it weren’t for Tomato, I might not know about this series. I may have not been reading a lot of the comics I’m currently reading. Nor the books I’m currently reading. So, for that, this post is for you, man. Hello, I’m RacattackForce, and I’m about to take you back into the world of Gotham City. But not to visit the bat. No, we shall be visiting the fine officers at the GCPD…
Artist(s): Michael Lark and Stefano Gaudiano
Publication Dates: February 2003 – April 2006
Publisher: DC Comics
When it comes to Gotham, Batman is king. The metropolis is HIS domain, and it’s the Bat that gets noticed for the work he does when taking down crime. The Gotham City Police Department is stuck in the man’s shadow, and with a good chunk of the force corrupt as hell, it’s not a good place to be. Good cops are scarce in Gotham, but thankfully, they have some where it counts: the Major Crimes Unit. Renee Montoya, Crispus Allen, and Romy Chandler are but a few of the major players in this 40-issue comic series.
Like what you would expect from a comic taking place in Gotham City, the stories make some use of the various supervillains and superheroes that reside in the DC Universe. However, the focus is always on the MCU detectives and their personal lives. Both Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker are talented writers, and this series is proof of that. Despite a rocky start with the first story arc (which involved the character Mr. Freeze), every story is well-written, the characters being well-defined and the situations presented being believable on some level. Of course, every series has a story that raises above the others and shines as an example of how amazing it can be. With “Gotham Central”, that story is the five-parter Half a Life…
Half a Life follows Detective Renee Montoya, who is not only tried for murder, but is also found with her greatest kept secret being revealed to the rest of the GCPD and her parents. She is now isolated, with one of the few people who reaches out to her in this desperate time being Harvey “Two-Face” Dent, who fell in love with Renee during the events of No Man’s Land. There is little information that I feel comfortable in revealing about this story arc, due to the fear of ruining a story arc that shaped Renee’s character for the remainder of the series and onward. That said, this arc led to Renee Montoya becoming my favorite character in this series: after these events, she is arguably the most fleshed-out character of the GCPD, and becomes (at the very least) a very understandable & and very real character.
“Gotham Central” has had two major artists over the course of its run: Lark and Gauidano. Both of them have similar styles that successfully capture the gritty feel of the setting, but there are some minor differences to be found. Lark’s art is slightly more blocky and less detailed. Gauidano incorporates more curves into his designs, and more detail as well. The color palette given to Michael Lark’s artwork is of darker tones, while Stefano Guidano’s goes more light.
In the end? “Gotham Central” is a complete and utter joy. It reminds comic readers that there is a lot more to the city of Gotham than the Dark Knight and his rogues’ gallery, and does so in a captivating way. If you aren’t a huge fan of Batman, then this might change your mind. If you already like Batman, then you’ll likely love this. And if you love crime stories, then this is a definite pick-up.