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Gotham Central #3 By Matt Martin
DC Comics Ė Ed Brubaker (w); Michael Lark (a)
Now this is more like it. This is what I wanted from this book to begin with.
The last arc was good, donít get me wrong. It set up the lead character, Detective Driver, rather well. Gave him a motivation that will obviously carry over for quite some time (heís not a big fan of Batman) and it wrapped up quickly. I was just a little annoyed to see them fall back on using Batmanís rogues gallery so quickly, as I had really hoped that Rucka and Brubaker would try a little harder to separate themselves from the rest of the extended family of Bat-books. With that in mind, itís a relief to read this issue.
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When I Previews solicitations, I had hoped for a sort of ďGotham City Blue,Ē a police procedural that just happens to be set in Batmanís hometown. That way, it would be appropriate to occasionally mix in elements of superheroics, as theyíre part and parcel of the setting, but it would be required (like it is in Powers). Thatís exactly what weíre given here.
The first arc opened with Detective Driver and his partner investigating the abduction of a fourteen-year old girl. That plot thread was promptly dropped when they accidentally discovered Mr. Freezeís hideout, leading to Driverís partner being murdered by the aforementioned supervillain. In this issue, Driver resumes his investigation, taking no time off to mourn the death of his partner and friend, much to the consternation of his superiors and awe of his colleagues.
Of note is the fact that this is Brubakerís first issue handling the scripting chores alone. Though Rucka is more famous, of the pair, for his crime fiction, donít be fooled into underestimating Brubaker. Heís displayed a range throughout his career that would have undoubtedly brought in wider acclaim if he werenít exclusive to DC (which, for right or wrong, the majority of fandom seems to be ignoring in favor of Marvel at this time). And this issue is no exception, as he easily mixes the camaraderie of desk jockey cops with the harsh realities of those working Homicide. The book isnít overly light-hearted, but at the same time, itís not unnecessarily grim. It just seems realistic, to be blunt about it.
Incidentally, perhaps Iím reading too much into it, but I found the inclusion of a character named Romy Chandler to be remarkably similar to the name of an author that both Brubaker and myself admire: Raymond Chandler, who is generally acknowledged as one of the modern masters of crime fiction (if not the undisputed master). Given the subject matter, I find it hard to imagine that it was a coincidence.
In any case, books like this are precisely the reason that comic book fans should keep an eye on DC. Without the hyperbolic stage show that Marvel favors, theyíre quietly putting out some of the best books on the market (Y: The Last Man, Fables, 100 Bullets, Flash and this one are all great examples). To boot, thereís not another book quite like this one on the market, though Marvelís Alias comes fairly close, at least in subject matter if not in execution. Itís definitely worth your time to check it out.