Madam President, Queen of Snark (kellinator) wrote,
Madam President, Queen of Snark

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Gotham Central: The best comic you're not reading.

There's a reason I picked that title for this post. TV Guide once named Homicide: Life on the Street "the best show you're not watching." And Gotham Central is Homicide's heir -- just in comic book instead of television form. (The terrific Greg Rucka, who co-writes with Ed Brubaker, even assured me at last year's DragonCon that Det. Crispus Allen is "a low-rent Pembleton." Though be assured, there's nothing low-rent about him -- Greg's just modest.)

Seriously. Imagine Homicide set in Gotham City. It's got all the gritty detective work, the gallows humor, the squadroom banter -- plus all the complications that come from being police in a city where, thanks to Batman, everyone considers you incompetent and an afterthought, and where you deal with criminal masterminds who are just going to get sent to Arkham Asylum for milk and cookies anyway. It takes a special breed to do the job, and Gotham Central features numerous wonderful characters to go with its tight plots. The foreshadowing and small hints that turn out to mean something big are wonderful and make reading it an even more rewarding experience.

If you love cop shows, you owe it to yourself to check out this book. The first graphic novel is now available, and it's good, but the comic really started hitting its stride with issue #11 -- a look at the squad from the point of view of Stacey, the civilian employee whose job it is to turn on the Bat-Signal (the cops themselves can't do it for liability reasons) -- and the next story arc, "Soft Targets," which featured the Joker terrorizing Gotham as a sniper killer and featured an amazing, heartbreaking final issue that was both a wonderful tribute to Homicide and completely its own self at the same time and left me too keyed up to sleep for hours. The current storyline, "Unresolved," is just as good and features the return of Harvey Bullock. There! Now will you read it? If you're a fan of Renee Montoya or Josie MacDonald from the other Bat-books, they're here too.

Gotham Central also offers something rare -- a very nuanced look at what it must be like to know that no matter how well you do your job as a cop, you'll still be second-place behind Batman, and you're not even sure if he's on your side. (That's probably the real reason it's not Code-approved.)

If you like cop shows, Batman, or just damn good storytelling, read Gotham Central. You won't regret it.

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