Gotham Central: In the Line of Duty by Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka

details
Title: Gotham Central.
Volume: 1.
Story Arc
: In the Line of Duty.
Writer(s): Ed Brubaker & Greg Rucka.
Artist(s): Michael Lark.
Colourist(s): Noelle Giddings, Matt Hollingsworth & Lee Loughridge.
Letterer(s): Willie Schubert.
PublisherDC Comics.

Format
: Paperback.
Release Date: March 15th 2011.
Pages: 240.
Genre(s): Comics, Mystery.
ISBN13: 9781401220372.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

thoughts

Where there can be crime, there can also be law and justice. The relentless battle to establish an unobtrusive balance between both is an age-old conflict that has yet to be seen in many societies, often raising questions on the nature of the synergy. For Gotham City, crime, corruption, and power have never been properly managed by the elites. It has led its people to live in an environment prone to danger and to pursue a life filled with fear and anxiety. But even in the worse corners of the city, even amidst the dangerous crooks that have challenged Batman to the brink of death, there lie good-intentioned cops who would do anything for their city. With an introduction by Lawrence Block, critically-acclaimed writers Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka team up with artist Michael Lark to deliver the multiple award-winning series Gotham Central. This first volume collects the first ten issues and covers the “In the Line of Duty“, “Motive“, and “Half a Life” story arcs.

What is Gotham Central: In the Line of Duty? While Batman wages on his one-man war against crime, the law enforcers of the Gotham City Police Department work around the clock to protect their city from overflooding with crime committed by some of the most insane and homicidal criminals. Unfortunately, many of the cops don’t see eye-to-eye with the Dark Knight’s ways but it doesn’t stop them from serving justice the good old-fashioned way. With one of their recent partners falling to Mister Freeze, Gotham’s Finest finds themselves rushing to uncover a larger plan at play. The Major Crime Unit also has their hands full when they find themselves looking into an unsolved case that ties in with supervillain Firebug. But things don’t get any more complicated when Police Detective Renee Montoya also finds herself at the heart of a complex case that unravels her own personal life and sends her career straight to the sewers. The question she now faces leads to a traitorous whodunit: Who could be behind her frail situation?

“It’s a one-way door, detective. Once the closet is open, it doesn’t shut again. What you do next, you get to live with it for the rest of your life.”

— Greg Rucka

How could I ever say no to the idea behind this series? It is everything I could ask for. The Wire in the form of a comic book series and set within Batman’s kingdom. And you got writers Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka working together with artist Michael Lark on it too? What more could one possibly ask for? What they achieve together is a formidable, episodic, and gritty noir fiction that fully embraces crime and mystery through grim and somber story-telling and character development. Through the former, the stories establish the GCPD in a down-to-earth reality that takes into consideration the existence of Batman’s war on crime without, however, allowing his adventures to affect their own individual day-to-day routine. Through the latter, this series explores the complex relationships they all have with one another while they struggle with their own personal issues, allowing readers to look into their coping mechanisms and their stress management skills.

Artist Michael Lark also fully participates in the success of this series with his impeccable artwork reminiscent of artist Sean Phillips’ own style. The grim qualities of his art brilliantly capture the tense atmosphere, often accentuating the darker emotions that are almost taken for granted because of the nature of these cops’ work and their tendency to live in bleak and terrifying conditions. Add in the perfectly adequate colouring accomplished by Noelle Giddings, Matt Hollingsworth, and Lee Loughridge, and you’ve got yourself a dark, sinister, and highly immersive world that sticks to its noir fiction premise and allows these usually-inconsequential characters to be front-and-center in crime-fighting duties on top of showcasing their human facets, whether it’s their most vulnerable selves or their most vice-hungry personas.

Gotham Central: In the Line of Duty is an outstanding crime procedural with noir overtones that explores the daily struggles of Gotham’s Finest amidst Batman’s crusade against ruthless criminals.


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29 comments

  • This kind of reminds me of Marvels, which is about the Marvel Universe from the perspective of an everyman character. I really like the idea of having mundane stories in a fantastical universe, and seeing the exploits of Batman from the perspective of the police force would certainly make for an interesting narrative; I may have to keep an eye out for this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep. I read Marvels a very long time ago and thought it brilliant too. I need to revisit that and give it a proper review up here though. I absolutely agree with you there and focusing on the GCPD is really brilliant, especially when we know how there’s an internal battle for a vision that clearly won’t ever be shared by anyone (is vigilantism good or bad). There’s a TV series spin-off of the upcoming The Batman that is supposedly going to focus on the GCPD and will probably be close to what this comic book series is so hopefully that works for the better too! Thanks for reading, my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  • If ‘The Sandman’ wasn’t already my default answer to the question, “What’s your favorite comic series of all time?”, then I could comfortably proclaim it to be Gotham Central.

    The series starts off strong, and only gets better. The story lines are brilliant, and the way the series explores the corruption within the GCPD reminded me almost of something like The Wire. The characters are fully fleshed out, and the writing is a cut above almost anything I’ve ever read in comics. Gotham Central is a series that seems to have been a little overlooked by a lot of Batman fans, but for anyone prepared to try something a little different, something where the Bat barely features, and is often seen as an antagonist rather than a help, you can’t go wrong with this series. I just loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, I’m going to have to add I wrote the above before reading your review, and it seems we hit upon several similar points. I wasn’t copying, promise! 😆

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, just one more thing… (No edit function on comments!)

        How’s the actual quality of the book? I read this years ago and don’t actually own the series. I’ve been holding out to pick the Omnibus up at a decent price, but this collection could be good. So it’s issues 1-10? From memory, it was a 40 issue run, right? So I’m assuming this is a four book collection? And easier to handle and read than a bulky omnibus I guess… I’m tempted!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Don’t worry about it! I’m always happy to hear more from everyone! 😉

          I went with the paperback and like you’ve brilliantly deduced, there are four of them for the entire run. As a collector, I would’ve probably preferred the hardcovers or the omnibus (which I’ll probably hunt down once I’m done going through the volumes I own), especially when 40 issues isn’t that many compared to other beloved classic series (e.g. The Sandman!!!). 😀

          Like

    • Ha! Really glad to hear that The Sandman is number one on your list. I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts on the 2nd and 3rd omnibus this year myself. What a creative run that one is!

      I’m definitely with you there. I love how its focus is on people who are simply doing it the traditional hard way and that they aren’t presented as immune, unbeatable, and immortal beings. They have flaws just like they have qualities and it brilliantly emphasizes that while reminding us, here and then, that Batman is still out there doing his thing! I also like that both Harvey and Gordon are people of the past here (although it would’ve been cool if they were in it). It makes for a very unique dynamic!

      Like

  • Wahoo, so glad you’ve finally got around to checking this series out my good man! It’s a shame it only got a short run and admittedly there’s a slight drop in quality later on when Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark depart – but even then it’s still solid. This is what I’d hoped the Gotham TV series was going to be and unfortunately wasn’t – but maybe the Gotham P.D. show will be more inline with this.

    Look forward to your reviews of subsequent volumes, think it’s long overdue I dug out my hardcovers and revisit the whole run!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah I felt the same about the Gotham TV show, but by all accounts Gotham PD is going to be a lot closer to the vibe of this comic series. Fingers crossed!

      Liked by 2 people

      • I really hope so too! Although I’m sure they’ll probably stick to their own stories instead of taking those from this series, especially if they plan to stick to whatever happens in The Batman and how everything is set up there! 😮

        Like

    • I’m really glad to have finally gotten around to it too! I was also hoping that we would get more information/teasers for the Gotham P.D. spin-off but since its announcement we’ve only had bad news (e.g. creator leaving the project or the memo that it might not be following the Gotham Central series story). I’m still excited by the idea of a spin-off series for The Batman, giving us more of that universe but different angles.

      I did discover that Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark both leave later on and this is what leads Greg Rucka to end the series but man… I wish they had picked it up again later on! I know there are two other similar-ish series (e.g. Streets of Gotham) but they don’t seem as promising… Maybe Paul Dini did do something great? I’ll have to try it to find out. Unless you can confirm that it’s worth checking out or not?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m very interested in a series linked to the Batman as well but I never expected it to adapt any of the Gotham Central stories specifically, but certainly hope it would be of a similar tone…I just don’t want another ‘Gotham’!

        Love Paul Dini, especially for his amazing work on Batman: The Animated Series but alas, I haven’t read Streets of Gotham so can’t offer any thoughts there I’m afraid!

        Liked by 1 person

  • This could be the series that finally gets me into Batman, at least a little. These days I’m not the biggest fan of masked superheros, though I will read them. But seeing stories from the cops perspective in that universe is very appealing. And with Greg Rucka onboard, that also catches my attention. Though I’ve not read much of his work in the big shared universes I have in the smaller ones or his more personal work, like Queen & Country (both comics and novels), Whiteout, and currently Lazarus. I’ve heard great things of Brubaker though I don’t know that I’ve read his work. And with an introduction by Lawrence Block? Yeah, I’ll add this to my TBR and look into buying a copy. And if I don’t enjoy it I know exactly who to blame. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can only highly recommend it! It can be read without even any knowledge of Batman’s universe, despite some character of his world being known without much effort because of our pop culture and live-action movies. I highly recommend it, at least volume 1! And it only has 4 volumes for those who fear series that are too long for their own good! 😀

      I haven’t heard of Whiteout or Queen & Country but I have added them both to my TBR so that I can check them out someday, so thanks for that! 😀 As for Lazarus, you already know that I started that series a long time ago and read the first volume. I never got around to hunting down the remaining volumes (goes up to 6 now, doesn’t it?). I’ll definitely get back to it in the near future though!

      And I’ll gladly take all the blame if you end up getting bored of this one! I’m convinced that it couldn’t be possible though. 😉 I look forward to exchanging thoughts on it when you do though! 😀

      Like

  • This sounds very promising, and Brubaker is usually solid gold when it comes to more down-to-earth superhero-and-beyond stories. I’ll definitely pick this one up!
    Fab review, Lashaan! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Really glad to push you towards picking up something instead of the usual “No.”!!! 😛 I do hope it lives up to some expectations but I definitely look forward to seeing what you’ll think of it when you get the chance to try it out, Ola! 😀 Thanks for reading, as always!

      Liked by 1 person

  • I like the sounds of this Lashaan. Now, it doesn’t mean I will read it, but I will recommend it to my son. Did you ever watch the television series, Gotham? I am guessing your answer is yes. We enjoyed the first couple of seasons, but then stopped. I get the atmosphere you are talking about from watching that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It really put a smile on my face to hear that! I hope your son enjoys it when he gets the chance. It’s a very adult, crime-centric take on Batman’s world without having him at the heart of it all.

      I indeed have! I didn’t get around to checking out the final season that came out a while back as I lost interest in the direction of the show but the idea behind Gotham is somewhat similar, although the show was a bit more family-friendly. There’s an upcoming TV series that will come out soon that will be even closer to the essence of this series and, for what, I am VERY excited!

      Thank you so much for reading, Carla! Hope you’ve been doing good lately! If you’re pro-vaccine, I also hope you got the chance to investigate that option and to take it! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am very Pro-Vaccine Laashan. Being over 60, I was able to get my first dose of the AstraZenica shot and will wait patiently for the chance to get my second dose. I am doing great and looking forward to when we can be out and about again.

        Liked by 1 person

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