In Gotham, honest cops are rare. Virtually the entire police force is on the take, the only exceptions being Commissioner Gordon and the cops of the Major Crimes Unit. Only the MCU officers seem to be driven by a need for justice, and it’s that drive that puts them in direct conflict with their fellow officers.
Detective Crispus Allen is one of the most honest cops on the force, and he’s made it his personal objective to take down Jim Corrigan, one of the most corrupt cops. Corrigan is pure evil. He treats police investigations purely as ways to enrich himself, stealing drugs to resell, and driving a fierce loyalty from those who work for him, at pain of death. Jim Corrigan is a lot like Office Vic Mackey on the TV show The Shield; he’s so steeped in corruption that there’s just no redeeming him.
This issue details Cris’s efforts to take down Corrigan. Cris patiently gathers evidence, talks to informants, does everything he can by the book to do the right thing. But, in a shocking ending (do not skip to the last page), it appears that evil might triumph over good.
This is a sensational police comic from the keyboard of Greg Rucka and the hands of Kano and Gaudino. Readers see, panel by panel, as the story matches inexorably towards a tragic conclusion. We get a feel for who Cris Allen is, the sacrifices he makes to do good, the way his dogged determination forces him to make decisions. In issue #37, readers saw Cris desperately try to come home to his family in the midst of the Infinite Crisis; that history adds even more intensity to the story.
Parallel to Cris’s story is the increasing depression and violent attitudes of his partner Renee Montoya. For the last few months, beginning perhaps with a confrontation she had with Corrigan, Renee’s been getting a quicker and quicker temper. Finally in this issue, that problem comes to a head. Will she grow from the experience, or will she sink further down into her problems?
After last issue’s IC cross-over, this issue is completely superpower free, and it gives the comic a wonderful feel. We can predict that Corrigan will eventually become the Spectre – it’s hinted at on the cover – but this issue has a wonderful street-level feel that fits the characters well.
The art by Kano and Gaudiano, along with art by Lee Loughridge, is perfect for the story. There’s a sense that Gotham is a city in decline, where life is tough and danger lurks around every corner. The scenes at the climax are especially dramatic – I was on the razor’s edge watching the confrontation between Cris and Corrigan.
It’s too bad there’s only two more issues left of this series. This was perhaps the best issue of the series so far.