Story-Arc: City of Crime.
Writer(s): David Lapham.
Penciller(s): Ramon Bachs & David Lapham.
Inker(s): Nathan Massengill & David Lapham.
Colourist(s): Jason Wright.
Letterer(s): Jared K. Fletcher & Phil Balsman.
Publisher: DC Comics.
Format: Hardcover – Deluxe Edition.
Release Date: March 17th, 2020 (first published july 6th, 2006).
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.
There are underworlds that naturally breed evil. At every juncture, there’s something terrifying ready to crawl out of the darkness, spring upon you, and claw at your innocence. Striving for eternal servitude towards the vices that pervades the universe, the people in these worlds remain stuck in a cycle of violence and vengeance. Sometimes, you just can’t help but wonder if the environment isn’t more than a terrain for criminality but a root cause for the immortality of evil. For Batman, it’s his doorway towards the dark truths and terrifying secrets that his city withholds from him. Collecting issues #801-808 and #811-814 of Detective Comics as well as David Lapham’s prologue issue #800 entitled “In the Dark“, this special deluxe edition presents the Eisner Award-winning graphic novelist’s vision of a Batman noir fiction brimming with grit and grim.
What is Batman: City of Crime about? A young girl’s cry for help is dismissed by Bruce Wayne, oblivious to the consequences that it will have as it escalates to the death of several teenage girls in a wild and deadly event in Crime Alley. It is then the desperate desire of a mother for the safe return of her missing daughter that gnaws at Bruce Wayne’s conscious. Consumed by the guilt of his recent inaction, he vows to find the child but his journey leads him into the dark corners of Gotham City, where evil proliferates between the cracks of the underworld and danger is nothing more than an omnipresent companion to all those who lurk in the darkness. However, this descent to the criminal world of Gotham doesn’t come without a cost. The truths he learns from the people and the city he protects will be a burden, unlike anything he’s had to face so far.
“Gotham is our city. She belongs to us. In his bones he knows they’re right. The dawn is coming, and with it, the rain has ended. The Old Gotham—his Gotham—has been washed away. The dawn brings a New Gotham. A Gotham with no place for a Batman.”
— David Lapham
Writer David Lapham (Age of Apocalypse, Stray Bullets, Deadpool MAX) brings forth a suffocating and grim story with terrifying events that quickly evokes the darkness of Gotham City. This hard-boiled tale of redemption explores a bleak whodunit that keeps its revelations for its final acts as it allows various sets of characters, from Bruce Wayne to detectives within the Gotham City Police Department, to plunge deep into the thick and deadly layers of its underworld for answers. Despite several plot holes veering the narrative towards unrealistic grounds, it is the writer’s narration that captivated me the most through this graphic novel. The personification of Gotham City as she continuously unveils tragedies after tragedies make for a fascinating exploration of the environment’s own essence, one that is inscribed in crime and death.
Leave it to penciller Ramon Bachs, inker Nathan Massengil, and colourist Jason Wright to illustrate this ghastly story. From the eerie character designs and the creepy smiles to the smothering details of Gotham’s architecture, you would have a tough time seeing any source of hope. The overall tone also captures the city’s much more grisly nature. There’s no telling what she hides from you or when it will decide to regurgitate the gloomier menaces from its underworld. The mysterious new threat introduced in this story is also brilliantly illustrated through shady characters who seem lifeless and programmed for one thing and one thing only: evil. Suffice to say that this creative team did a phenomenal job in depicting various sectors of Gotham throughout the story and there’s nothing more intriguing than to watch Bruce Wayne become part of it if he is to understand criminals and uncover the truth.
Batman: City of Crime is a harsh and enthralling noir whodunit portraying and unveiling the darkness of Gotham City.