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Gotham Central #12

Posted: Monday, October 20, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writers: Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka
Artist: Michael Lark

Publisher: D.C. Comics

Plot:
When the mayor of Gotham City is stuck down by a sniper's bullet, and this is followed by a similar attack upon a school official, the GCPD finds themselves dealing with a ruthless killer, who leaves precious little clues, and growing victim count. However, when the detectives themselves come under fire, we see they are able to uncover a fairly disturbing clue as to the identity of this sniper. The issue ends with Batman being called in as the identity of the sniper is revealed.

Comments:
While it's a bit early in the game to say this is the best arc we've seen thus far in these pages it's certainly off to an impressive start, as not only do we have the tension level cranked up to eleven thanks to the presence of a sniper, but the last page of the issue manages to offer up an even bigger surprise. Now the idea of a sniper is not entirely new to comics as the I remember one of my earliest "Amazing Spider-Man" issues had Peter run up against one in an amusement park, and a memorable issue of the "Flash" had Wally dealing with one in a dark movie theater. However, this arc is probably the most riveting use of the idea I'm seen, as not only is our cast vulnerable to this unseen killers attacks, but this opening issue doesn't shy away from showing the frightening reality of this type of attack. Now I'm a little concerned by the big reveal on the final page, as frankly the concept was strong enough that it didn't really need the added punch that this reveal provides, and I worry that the inclusion of this character will essentially remove the problem from the level that this book's cast operates at, and they'll essentially become bystanders when the climax arrives rather than active participants. However, it's a little early in the show to be offering up my concerns about how the story is slated to finish, and based on this first chapter I'm not concerned about the excitement level, as this issue qualifies as a genuine nail-biter.

As for the art, Michael Lark does a fantastic job of conveying the suddenness of these attacks, as the opening sequence is a wonderful example of how to deliver a fairly violent scene without actively showing the attack itself. The scene later in the issue where the sniper attacks the crime scene is also quite impressive, as the horrific aftermath is perfectly captured in that blood soaked panel sequence where we see the two downed officers. The scenes in the squad room are also well done, as the art does a nice job of displaying the tension with that single scene where Stacy is advised to stay back from the windows being particularly effective. The closing scene is also quite powerful, as Batman makes a fairly impressive arrival scene, and the final panel of the issue perfectly captures the sense of urgency as the Bat-Signal is blown away.

Final Word:
A very exciting start to this latest arc as the city of Gotham is caught in the grip of a sniper who is picking off city officials, with seemingly very little rhyme or reason behind the attacks, and very few clues for our detectives to follow up upon. The issue also does a very solid job of detailing the sense of helplessness that grips our cast, as there truly is very little they can do to stop this type of attack, and the final page reveal makes it very clear that not only is this killer going to continue his attacks, but even if the GCPD manage to catch up to him they will have to exercise extreme caution, as he's far more dangerous than they are prepared to deal with. The issue also does some nice work on the little details, like the fact that the opening argument that we are treated to before the first attack gives us a good look at city politics, and during the issue we also get a look at what various police officers think of their captain rushing into the spotlight that these attack have created. Now I'm not quite sure if I'm overly pleased with the last page reveal, but I'm more than willing to give the idea every opportunity to convince me this was a good move.



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