November 4, 2008

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Quick Hits: Gotham Central Volumes 1 and 2

[Quick hits is where I'll have some comments on parts of a series I read before I was doing full reviews, usually before a new full review.]

First off, a major "boo, hiss" to DC for refusing to trade this one in order. I am mystified at DC's approach to how the modern comics reader does a lot of their comics, namely by trades. It drives me crazy when I can't have a complete run of a series that's been traded because they opted to leave things out. Then I have to decide whether or not I care, and if I do care, whether or not I'll be able to *find* the missing issues, and, if I do find them, how I put this part of my collection together. (Fortunately, I did find a way to end that sentence.)

That being said, let's get to the comics...

Volume 1
Written by Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka
Illustrated by Michael Lark
DC Comics

Date read is a total guess. Books "in the world of" a particular hero can be hard to pull off, and there's been a lot of crappy mini-series done in that vein. But this one's a winner, using the excellent supporting cast of Gotham's finest to shine the light on what it's like to be a cop on a force that has so many supervillains and vigilantes it must often seem pointless. Very well written, my only quibble is with the terrible, half-finished art.

Had the series ended here, I think it might be been one of my favorite mini-series ever. However, it opted to continue, and the longer it went--perhaps to impact on sales?--the more the Shadow of the Bat loomed...



Written by Greg Rucka
Illustrated by Michael Lark and others
DC Comics

Greg Rucka writes a story that does what every reader hates--takes a character and changes them just for the story they want to tell. This happens here big time, as Detective Montoya gets a real change that has no basis in prior stories.

Taking off the duality of Two-Face, this story is a good one in general. Harvey is in love, and knows the only way to get the girl is to pull her down to his level. Montoya's life gets worse and worse, until the climax that kinda defeats the point of this series in the first place.

I know people really like Rucka as a writer, but I find his desire to ignore characterization in a long-standing comic (which appears to be the theme of the day nowadays) rather frustrating. The more I read Rucka's stories from his run on Batman, the less I like him as a writer. (Queen and Country is still good, though.) He seems bound and determined to change the Bat-verse. Not so much because of a need to change, which would be fine, but because hey, he's the writer, he can change it. If that's what you want to do, go write an indie comic for Image or something. I'll read it.

Still, even with my problems about characterization and changes for changes sake, this was a pretty good story and I'd still recommend reading it--just be ready for some shoe-horned things and a plot twist that leads to some rather stale stereotypes
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