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Gotham Central #7

Posted: Wednesday, May 21, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Michael Lark

Publisher: DC

Plot:
The book opens with Detective Renee Montoya having a rough time of it at the station house, thanks to the photo that has outed her as a lesbian. However, while we get to see in rather quick order who the loud mouthed jerks are on the squad, we also get to see who Renee can count on to support her no matter what, as her partner makes it clear he's on her side, and the shift captain makes it clear that she's willing to be a sympathetic ear should Renee need one. However, Renee isn't exactly big on making friends, as she lashes out at her shift captain, before making her way home. It is here that Renee's brother arrives and he lets her know that a copy of the photo also found it's way to the home of their parents, but he was able to convince them that it was a doctored photo that was created by someone looking to hurt Renee. However, when Renee appears to be reluctant to support the lie that her brother has crafted, we see the two have a heated discussion, that ends rather poorly. We then see an upset Renee phones up her girlfriend, and the two meet at a coffee shop to discuss Renee's horrible day. After walking her home, Renee finds herself confronted by the creep who circulated the photo, and Renee lets her temper get the better of her. The issue then ends with a murder, in which Renee is guaranteed to be the prime suspect.

Comments:
The character of Detective Renee Montoya is certainly one whom I'm sure ranks among the most popular members of the book's cast, as frankly she was the only one who I had been actively aware of before this series began. This in turn makes this story such solid entertainment, as Greg Rucka is making some fairly major moves with the character that are sure to have lasting repercussions. In fact if my guess about who the shooter in on the final page is correct then the character's world will be completely thrown into turmoil. As it stands some major steps have already been taken as she's been outed at work, and in a rather refreshing display of political incorrectness, most of the squad room are complete jerks about it. I mean I'm sure there will be characters who emerge as more supportive, as her shift captain & partner both end up looking like they'll fall on her side of the fence when her world really starts falling apart. However, I like the idea that the squad room does have itself a large collection of loud mouths & blowhards, who are almost celebrating the idea that they've learned a dirty little secret about Renee that they can pick at. I also like the idea that Renee's family was also brought into the picture, as we get a pretty good idea of why she's had to be dragged kicking and screaming out of the closet.

Another elements that I like about this story is that there are moments when Renee makes some extremely dumb moves, that you know she is kicking herself over afterwards. I mean there's a wonderful scene in this issue where Renee is called before her shift captain, and we see the woman makes it very clear that she's willing to stand in Renee's corner, but Renee gets her back up, and effectively slaps away the hand of someone who could've been a very helpful ally. Instead she's taken an aggressive position that will likely have this woman taking a second look at any accusations that are sent her way about Renee. The other big mistake is that Renee allows herself to be drawn into a situation where she had to know going in exactly what this man was looking for, and she effectively delivers it to him on a silver platter, when she allows her temper to get the better of her. I like the fact that Renee is far from perfect & that she'll often make the wrong move, as it results in a truly believable character, and as such as a character study the material is much more revealing. Then there's the final page of this issue, where we see a character looks to have been murdered, and thanks to her actions Renee has made herself suspect number one. In fact the way this is going, Renee could very well be the murderer, as I really wouldn't put it past Greg Rucka.

Michael Lark is about as perfect a match as this book could've asked for, as he able to project a sense of reality that really lends a sense of credibility to key moments in this issue. I mean from an emotional context, how can one not be impressed by the slow burn that we see Renee undergoing as she is taunted by her fellow detectives, or more impressive, the one she fails to maintain later in the issue, where she finally lets her temper get the better of her. There's also some solid little moments, like Renee's partner being further up the stairs to hear the taunting that Renee is being subjected to, as you just know he's not going to let this situation stand. The art also manages to capture the underlying tension that exists between Renee and her brother, as the two actually look to get along quite well, right up until the photo comes out, and then the scene becomes a wonderful display of body language, as the characters look tense, and the entire scene projects a sense of urgency. I also love the way the issue uses the shadows to such an effective degree, as the confrontation scene between Renee & Lipari has a nice "walls closing in" feel to it, so that when Renee does lash out the art almost seems to break loose of the looming shadows. The final three panel of this issue also do a nice job suggesting the idea that a murder has been committed by someone who had reason to want this man dead.

Final Word:
I'm sure there will be fans who walk away from this issue far more engrossed in the material than myself, as Detective Renee Montoya is a relatively new character to me, and while the story has done a fantastic job of making the character into a real, flesh & blood creation, if the story ended with her locked away for murder, I don't suspect I'd be overly upset. Now I will say that this issue has done a wonderful job of examining the struggle that Renee's life has become now that her personal life has been put on display, and the book also does some nice work conveying a sense of realism, with the conversation she has with her brother being the highlight of the issue. The book also manages to step up the tension in the final pages, as Renee finally breaks under the pressure and lashes out at her primary tormentor, and the book ends with a murder where Renee is likely to be the primary & potentially only suspect. It certainly keeps one guessing, and I can't wait for the reveal issue, where we learn who the true killer is.



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