Reviews of trade paperbacks of comic books (mostly Marvel), along with a few other semi-relevant comments / reviews.

24 May 2008

Gotham Central, v. 4: The Quick and the Dead

Collects: Gotham Central #23-5, 28-31 (2004-5)

Released: October 2006 (DC)

Format: 166 pages / color / $14.99 / ISBN: 9781401209124

I’m not sure what to make of the Gotham Central collections these days. I want to like them — really, I do — and I find many of the characters sympathetic and compelling. But I keep finding myself more and more frustrated, and Gotham Central, v. 4: The Quick and the Dead doesn’t help.

Gotham Central, v. 4: The Quick and the Dead cover Part of it is still the coloring combined with Michael Lark’s art. It’s better in this book, probably exactly the effect he and his editor was going for, but it still seems murky to me. Part of it is the skipped issues — #26-27 are omitted from the collection. Part of it is the lack of consideration toward new readers; the “helpful” list of Gotham’s Major Crime Unit personnel at the beginning of the book contains two dead men and still has two partners listed as being on different shifts. (It also is still badly organized and has only bare-bones info.) Also, in “Lights Out,” the Batsignal is taken down and cops discuss whether they should trust Batman after some act of perceived betrayal, but there’s no info on what that betrayal was and no reference even if the reader wanted to find out.6 Well, I’m not that immersed in the DC or Bat universes, so f$&k that noise.

As for the stories … well, writer Greg Rucka does his best work with characterization, let’s put it that way. I very much care about the characters of the MCU, especially Detectives Allen and Montoya, who are featured in all of the stories in The Quick and the Dead. Unfortunately, the plots leave something to be desired. For instance, in “Corrigan,” Allen is sued when a handcuffed felon is shot while Allen and the Black Spider duel over Montoya’s life. Rucka’s forensics seem sloppy — or leave too much unexplained — when one missing bullet in a gunfight can prove Allen’s innocence.

The final story, the four-part “Keystone Kops,” is the best part of the book, but that’s not saying much. It seems old hat. Cop falls into mysterious substance, is mutated, friends search for a cure. Villain doing his best Hannibal Lector riff with desperate cops. Superhuman prisoner escaping during transport. That sort of thing — you’ve seen it before. But again, the best part is Allen and Montoya, and Rucka deserves points for using a Flash villain and incorporating another fictional city’s detectives (Keystone City, home of the Flash) into the story. Other than that, there’s not much to say, except that the story feels a little padded (although I don’t know what I would take out).

I was excited about the first two volumes of Gotham Central. But I’m not sure if I’m going to keep buying them.

Rating: Rating: Bat symbol Bat symbol (2 of 5)

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