Title: Gotham Central.
Story Arc: Jokers and Madmen.
Writer(s): Ed Brubaker & Greg Rucka.
Artist(s): Michael Lark, Greg Scott, Brian Hurtt & Stefano Gaudiano.
Colourist(s): Lee Loughridge.
Letterer(s): Clem Robins & Willie Schubert.
Publisher: DC Comics.
Release Date: July 12th, 2011.
Original Release Date: March 1st, 2005.
Genre(s): Comics, Superheroes, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating:
Previously in the Gotham Central series:
Gotham Central: In the Line of Duty by Ed Brubaker.
It’s another day in the office for the detectives of Gotham City. From cowardly maniacs to deranged and unforgiving lunatics, it’s become unsurprising when the city cowers in fear at the latest terrorist attack. And what are they supposed to do against individuals who would stop at nothing to watch the world burn? Even the law can only go so far in ensuring peace. Sometimes, all you can do is play things by the book. Sometimes, you could also look into unlikely alliances and justify the means by the ends. This second volume collecting issues #11-22 written by Ed Brubaker and/or Greg Rucka has the stories titled Daydreams and Believers, the four-part story arc Soft Targets, the three-part story arc Life is Full of Disappointments, and the four-part story arc Unresolved.
What is Gotham Central: Jokers and Madmen? The Gotham City Police Department’s Major Crimes Unit continues its struggle with its city’s insane and homicidal criminals. With violence and corruption proliferating at a delirious rate, it doesn’t help that they must also handle a delusional vigilante dressed as a bat hellbent on serving justice his own way. Around Christmastime, the city is engulfed in terror by randomly rifle-executed individuals. From the common Gothamite to the Mayor, no one is safe and their best leads indicate that the Joker might be at the heart of it all. Additional murders around the city also bring the Huntress lurking around while disgraced detective Harvey Dent is consulted in an ongoing unresolved case.
“See, what you don’t know, Josie… What you don’t know about me… I’m not better.”— Ed Brubaker
For those accustomed to acclaimed writer Ed Brubaker’s stories, this latest volume within the Gotham Central franchise is another excellent display of his story-telling and character-designing abilities. With some stories benefiting from contributions by writer Greg Rucka, these tales continue to delve deeper into the unique and noir world of the GCPD and the complex relational dynamics between the detectives of the MCU. From romantic affairs to hierarchy-related tensions, the characters display a wide range of emotions, grudges, and motivations that hint at their way of life and conception of law enforcement and justice. Not to mention that having Batman as a secondary character, more of a mythological entity that intervenes and disrupts the administration of the GCPD’s justice, allows for a unique atmosphere where these non-superhero characters deal with life and death in a much more human way, making the central themes of death, loss, and trauma much more emotionally-resounding.
To accompany the excellent narrative of the stories in this volume is Michael Lark’s artwork (as well as the additional art by Greg Scott, Brian Hurtt, and Stefano Gaudiano). The unified and coherent style makes for an engaging reading experience where the cold, brutal, and depressive atmosphere is immediately set, effortlessly alluding to crime procedurals within a noir genre. The sepia tones also add an underlying iciness to the narrative, beautifully complementing the sense of danger that is omnipresent within Gotham City. Emotions are also unmistakably palpable throughout these stories, especially when the characters face a dead-end, are stripped of any sense of hope, or deal with death. While some of the one-shot stories in this volume balance out the volume with humour or temporary respite from absolute chaos, the series grows strong as it focuses on the GCPD and its detectives.
Gotham Central: Jokers & Madmen is another excellent foray into the daily lives of Gotham City Police Department’s detectives and their brush with death, loss, and trauma.