Monday, August 18, 2008

gotham central: unresolved targets

My sister doesn’t like things with fantasist elements. That’s one reason she liked Batman Begins, because it seemed much more realistic to her than most superhero movies. (She claims that she liked The Dark Knight less because it got more out of control.) If comic writers were catering to an audience like her, they no doubt would have churned out Gotham Central, a complete 180 from Harley and Ivy. If Gotham were a real city, it would have its own CSI, and that would be quite a lot like Gotham Central (especially considering Captain Maggie Sawyer looks just like a character in CSI: SVU). All that said, I found it rather boring. It’s got the requisite kooky Gotham-linked supervillains, but Batman barely figures and all that real world detective stuff is, quite frankly, not what I’m reading a comic for. The art hasn’t got frills or fancy stuff, it’s the vehicle to tell the story. It’s great, though, it’s how I would illustrate a comic, and hooray for Michael Lark and Stefano Gaudiano.

Apparently Jim Gordon (who in the Nolan!verse has just been promoted to Commissioner) has been shot and has since retired from G.C.P.D., leaving a hole filled by a cast of hard-boiled, well-rounded, tick-every-box motley crew of detectives and police men and women (and even a secretary named Stacy). To be frank again, I know Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka are writing their buns off here, but it’s hard to get much depth into characters like this, especially in such limited exposure. Despite “Soft Targets” being a Joker story, I found “Unresolved” to be vastly more intriguing. The story was clever and interesting, the two main detectives on the case more than adequately appealing, and it brought out the Mad Hatter, who I don’t even remember from the animated series. Rough, old skool cop Harvey Bullock is a delightful throwback to Batman’s heyday, and my favorite part was probably his conversation with his former partner Renee Montoya. Alas, I found the conclusion a bit contrived.

I think by osmosis at least Nolan owes something to “Soft Targets” for some of the elements in The Dark Knight. The Bat Signal gets smashed—the Joker uses live web cam feeds and countdowns to alert Batman and G.C.P.D. to hostage situations before blowing things up—a cop goes in to beat up the Joker, who’s let himself be captured, in a holding cell, which backfires—and certainly his humor and charisma are reminiscent of the film. It’s a dark story, though, and certainly your sympathies lie with the frustrated cops. Batman comes off as rather a lazy-arse! Kudos, I suppose, for making the rather unworldly world of Gotham more like CSI: New York, and the back-and-forth nature of Batman’s conflicts with the supervillains have real-life consequences for the harried police force. Buuuut it just isn’t my thing.

One more question: why is always snowing in Gotham?

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