Gotham Central: On the Freak Beat by Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker

Title: Gotham Central.
Volume: 3.
Story Arc
: On the Freak Beat.
Writer(s): Greg Rucka & Ed Brubaker.
Artist(s): Michael Lark, Stefano Gaudiano & Jason Alexander.
Inker(s): Stefano Gausiano, Jason Alexander, Kano & Gary Amaro.
Colourist(s): Lee Loughridge.
Letterer(s): Clem Robins.
Publisher: DC Comics.

Format: Paperback.
Release Date: June 15th, 2010.
Pages: 224.
Genre(s): Comics, Superheroes, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781401232320.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Previously in the Gotham Central series:
Gotham Central: In the Line of Duty by Ed Brubaker.
Gotham Central: Jokers and Madmen by Ed Brubaker.


To stand tall and face the streets of Gotham city with a virtuous and honorable conviction that justice should be administered by the book can be pretty difficult for the cops at the Gotham City Police Department, swarmed on a daily basis by freaks dressed in colourful and sometimes disturbing costumes. While some of these deranged folks claim to be on the same side as the uncorrupted cops, many who withhold legitimate authority in the streets of Gotham can’t help but put them all in the same basket, a basket full of nutcases who should be put behind bars. Collecting issues #23-31, this third and penultimate volume in the multiple award-winning Gotham Central series continues with acclaimed writers Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker, containing the two-part story arc titled Corrigan, the one-shot tale titled Lights Out, the two-part story titled On the Freak Beat, and the four-part story titled Keystone Kops.

What is Gotham Central: On the Freak Beat? In the midst of a brutal gang war in Gotham City, the Major Crimes Unit’s detectives Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen find themselves sticking their necks into trouble as they encounter the Black Spider. As the case becomes complicated, Montoya, now forced to embrace her sexual identity as a lesbian, outed with blackmailing intent by Two-Face, is off to do whatever it takes to prove her partner’s innocence. Meanwhile, the GCPD decided to put an end to the bat signal, retiring it from their roof, and declared their intolerance of the masked vigilante’s activities. While trouble doesn’t ever want to end in Gotham City, a tragedy implicating a heroic cop sets the MCU’s attention on the sketchy and notorious Doctor Alchemy.

“Batman, if what you need to do conflicts with my people or my department… If it threatens their lives or my authority… Then not only will I stop you… I’ll destroy you.”

Greg Rucka

With most stories collected in this volume are written by Greg Rucka, whilst Ed Brubaker is put on the passenger seat, there was doubt formed beforehand regarding the quality of these tales to be read. Fortunately, Greg Rucka does an impressive job of capturing a realistic and grim atmosphere as he went on to focus the volume on Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen. While it did feel like some of the stories were missing some oomph, something unpredictable and noteworthy, they managed to further develop the interpersonal plights of these characters, especially on the emotional front, with Renee Montoya’s own mountain of adversity that she struggles to confront, whether it’s with her colleagues or her own father who refuses to acknowledge her existence. Even more satisfying is for this volume to further antagonize Batman, creating a conflictual climate within the department as cops either commend or condemn his role in the realm of crime-fighting.

Surprisingly, the artwork is consistent and coherent from cover to cover. It continues to accentuate the gritty and grounded style of the narrative and offers plenty of subtle hints at the characters’ emotions and general state of mind. Similar to previous volumes, certain pages still have a monochromatic overlay that genuinely captures an old-school crime procedural tone. As per the narrative’s lack of pizazz, the artwork also conveyed the shortfall despite some unforgettable moments in the final story arc that masterfully portrayed some fantastic yet tragic moments. There is however little to criticize in terms of character design, as most of the story revolves around everyday humans, wonderfully drawn at that, making it effortless to follow and distinguish everyone. Although typical of a series that focuses on these detectives, this volume does limit the number of freaks, but whenever there is one, you’re sure to notice and remember them.

Gotham Central: On the Freak Beat is an exceptional, grounded, and genuine chapter illustrating the integrity and resilience of Gotham’s Major Crime Unit’s finest detectives amidst the terrors brought upon their city by costumed freaks.



13 thoughts on “Gotham Central: On the Freak Beat by Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker

  1. I know you’ve had issues with Rucka’s writing with some of these comics before. I think I’ve mentioned that I’ve had very good luck with him, but I believe all I’ve read of his comics and novels are his own creations and not part of an existing franchise. I can imagine it might take a slightly different sort of skill to successfully create engaging stories in someone else’s universe. Glad to see he managed it here. Every time I see you review something he was involved with it reminds me I still have a book or two (novels) that I haven’t read yet. And I keep thinking I’d like to do a reread of Queen & Country and Whiteout.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, but it’s not so much that I had issues with it but that I never found something extraordinary written by him yet. The stories he writes in this volume though are probably the best stuff I have seen from him so far but I still have Whiteout to be read, after you recommended it months ago! I do wonder if the final volume of Gotham Central will do the series justice though. I hope you get around to those rereads soon though, Todd! 😀


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