Friday, July 31, 2015
Comic Book Review: Gotham By Midnight #1
"We Do Not Sleep," by Ray Fawkes, with art by Ben Templesmith. Cover by Ben Templesmith.
Batman has had an inconsistent history with the supernatural. Over his more than 75 years, along with much more common stories facing off against his cast of rogues and run-of-the-mill criminals, he has on occasion battled the unexplained.
In one of his very early adventures (Detective Comics #31 & #32, cover-dated 1939) Batman traveled to Central Europe to battle a vampire who possessed werewolf-like characteristics. More than three decades later (Detective Comics #395, cover-dated January 1970), he found himself in a classic ghost story. But more often that not, Batman lets others handle Gotham's weirder cases.
Which is exactly where Gotham By Midnight comes in. Commissioner Gordon has set up this new task force, known alternately as "Precinct Thirteen" and "The Midnight Shift." Led by Detective Jim Corrigan, the squad includes Detective Lisa Drake, Sergeant Rook, forensics expert Doctor Szandor Tarr, and Sister Justine, the squad's resident nun.
Rook explains to Lieutenant Weaver, the internal affairs man who visits the squad this issue, what this team is about. In doing so, he also explains to readers what this series is about. "We're the guys who handle the strange stuff." Corrigan does have a brief interaction with Batman, but it is clear that he will be little more than an occasional guest in this series. It is unclear if the squad knows that Corrigan possesses the awesome power of The Spectre. At this point, I don't think so, but that will certainly be revealed in future issues.
Weaver is not convinced. The squad has never logged a single arrest, and their case reports "don't make any kind of sense." He suspects accounting fraud. Until he sees the squad work, up close and personal. A pair of young children have begun talking in a strange language, and their parents suspect some sort of foul play. It turns out the language is "some kind of telepathic infection," and the clues lead Corrigan and Weaver to Slaughter Swamp.
Of course Gotham City has a place called "Slaughter Swamp."
As the pair approach a ghostly shack, Corrigan asks if Weaver is a religious man.
"People keep asking me that."
Then, as the kids at the house begin to scream, Detective Drake announces that death is here, and Sister Justine prays The Lord's Prayer. At the same time, in Slaughter Swamp, Corrigan and Weaver enter the shack, and on the last page they witness a ghostly schoool room, led by a ghastly teacher.
Corrigan gets the last words of the issue. "It's a hell of a job."
This is the series that I did not know I wanted, until I learned it existed. In retrospect, it's amazing how long it took for a book like this to appear. An officially sanctioned supernatutal detective squad inside the GCPD? It's a great idea.
In this first issue, Fawkes and Templesmith set the type of eerie tone that I hope they maintain as the series continues. Templesmith's art is reminiscent of his work on various Silent Hill comics, and is able to portray this stranger side of Gotham in a way that sets it apart from the mainstream DC Universe. An excellent start to what appears to be an interesting series.