Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin’s weekly single issue review roundup.
Gotham By Midnight #1
(Ray Fawkes / Juan Jose Ryp / Ben Templesmith / Juan Albarran; DC Comics)
In Gotham City there are crimes that occur at night that can bewilder even the Batman. These cases are then handled by an elite team of some of Gotham City’s Finest, the most well-trained in the supernatural field and are headed up by Jim Corrigan, the vengeful Spector. Corrigans team, dubbed “The Midnight Watch”, is here to protect the city of Gotham from the things that go bump in the night.
Outside of the new creative team for Batgirl, Gotham By Midnight had been the upcoming bat title that I was the most excited for. I love the premise of a team of Gotham elites taking on the strange and supernatural parts of the city together and the fact that the Spectre was going to be one of the central characters just peaked my curiosity even further. Although I was hesitant about a few things, Gotham By Midnight #1 didn’t just meet my lofty expectations for the book, it surpassed them.
Ray Fawkes is a writer that I am not too familiar with but from the look of his resume it’s clear why DC chose him for this book. Not only does he seem to be a very busy writer who is able to handle writing multiple books at once, but he also seems to have his hands deep into both the dark side of the DC Universe (writing the Constantine and Pandora comics) but also has a large hand in Batman lore as well being a cowriter on Batman Eternal. He has a wonderful way of building mystery and character through the dialogue he gives each character. Corrigan sounds like the grizzled vet, a character that obviously dislikes his job but stays around because he knows that it needs to help save the city. The characters are incredibly well defined in this first issue and at time the writing and the dialogue reminded me of both Mike Mignola’s BRPD and the incredibly underrated Gotham Central by Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker.
Ben Templesmith has never been one of my favorite artists but I will admit that when his art fits a book it really fits a book. The whole issue drips with atmosphere and style, this is a Gotham City unlike anything you have ever seen before. It’s dark and rough and it almost looks like it’s swallowing people up into it’s own little macabre world. It’s one of the first times that I can remember Gotham City looking just as creepy as the psychos that inhabit it. The washed out colors and the odd character design just go that extra mile in the art to just slightly put you off your comfort zone and leave you with an uneasy feeling while reading this issue. It’s a perfect fit.
Batman books these days are a dime a dozen, if DC cancels one you can more then expect that another three will be just around the corner. So it takes a lot to get me really excited about a new book being added to the Batman universe, but Gotham By Midnight manages to do so in spades. It has a great writer who is well versed in things he is writing about and a artist that almost seems born to draw a book like this. Do not miss the chance to pick up this wonderfully different and unique addition to the Dark Knight’s universe.
– Jordan Glazer
Everyone grows up being afraid of things that go bump in the night… and someone has to investigate them. That’s the basic tagline of Gotham By Midnight #1, which introduces Jim Corrigan (aka the Spectre), and his motley crew into the New 52. And since we’re on the subject of rhyming onomatopoeia (you’re welcome, Burt Ward!), the sound that this comic makes is a resounding “Thud!!!”. Although, there are a few caveats to accompany that statement. First off, writer Ray Fawkes (Constantine, Trinity of Sin: Pandora), does well in setting the pace of the narrative by driving this first installment, kinda like the pre-credit sequence of a Bond movie. There’s plenty of subtle ambiguity and mystery to the dialogue for me to say “Okay, I get it. I see what you’re all about… Batman’s in this? Slaughter Swamp? Alright, I’ll check out where this is gonna go.”
Now on the counter side of the coin, artist Ben Templesmith… Here’s his caveat: 30 Days of Night was awesome. That being said, I would have enjoyed GBM#1 far more had the color palate been more film noir and less like if Bill Plympton tried drawing Calvin and Hobbes on LSD. The subtext of the writing was overshadowed by the images coming across a little too cartoonish just when the stakes were reaching their peak. Premature animation, if you will. In any case, there are enough easter eggs and deeper connections to the greater universe for me to come back for at least one more entry. GBM #1 serves its purpose in establishing the series, yet it won’t raise the dead.
– Ryan Ford