"Soft Targets 3 of 4"
Writers: Ed Brubaker & Greg Rucka
Artists: Michael Lark (p), Stefano Gaudiano (i)
Publisher: DC Comics
Fear grips the city of Gotham as the Joker’s web-cast countdown to his next shooting victim continues. Gotham’s police detectives gather the clues left by the Joker’s webcams and come up with nothing but more questions, while the interim mayor orders a media staged roundup of the Killer Clowns, a gang of Joker wannabes.
There are a million stories in the naked city and Gotham Central tells the ones experienced by the ordinary men and women of the Gotham City Police Department.
Much like Law and Order on television, the current story arc of Gotham Central is “ripped from the headlines.” The Joker or someone pretending to be him is sniping Gotham City government officials with a high-powered rifle and the city is in a panic. Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka bring to life in prose a gritty and realistic tale of how Gotham’s politicians, police and citizens react to acts of terrorism. I especially appreciated the little touches in scenes showing how the detectives balance their careers and obligations to the citizens of Gotham against their obligations to family and significant others.
Michael Lark’s pencils are simple yet realistic as the same time. The renderings are nothing flashy or over-the-top, just simple strait-forward story telling which conveys the grim reality of Brubaker and Rucka’s plot. Lark is also a master of making all his characters look different, giving personality to a large ensemble cast of similarly dressed individuals, which some artists seem to struggle with even when the characters are dressed in flashy costumes. Complimenting Lark’s renderings are Stefano Gaudiano’s inks and Lee Loughridge’s colors. Gaudiano uses his talents to draw Gotham into a pale and gloomy winter setting haunted by shadows in dark street corners and abandoned buildings. Loughridge colors the panels in muted and mostly monochromatic tones which adds to the mood of gloom and depression which is Gotham.
If you enjoy crime noir or police drama with a smattering of superhero action then Gotham Central is the book for you. If you suffer from bouts of depression and melancholy then I would recommend reading something a bit more cheery, like Batman.
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