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Gotham Central: “In the Line of Duty” (DC Comics, 2003; #1-10)

In Gotham City’s war on crime, the worst criminal offenders are pursued by Batman. But all the other criminals have the detectives of the GCPD on their cases. These are their stories.

(dun dun)

Gotham Central takes a more grounded approach to crime-fighting than most Bat-family books do. It focuses on members of the Gotham City Police Department as they investigate the types of cases you might see on a police procedural. Sometimes, their investigations put them in contact with Batman’s rogues; others, regular criminals. Batman rarely appears on-panel, and the department’s members have mixed feelings about his presence.

For instance, in the book’s opening arc, Brubaker and Rucka set Renee Montoya and company on Mister Freeze’s trail after he kills one of their own. Internally, they struggle with turning on the Bat-Signal (even though Freeze is out of their league) or seeking justice for their colleague on their own. Personal moments, conflicts between individuals, and more ordinary human drama supersede traditional comic book heroics.

Michael Lark’s impressionist lines and heavy inks give Gotham Central a raw, shadowy style. He pulls focus in tight, letting facial expression and physicality tell the story as much as Brubaker and Rucka’s words do. Giddings, Hollingsworth, and Loughridge play into the visual light and darkness, letting color temperature emphasize the book’s mood.

If your first reaction to news of the Gotham TV show was to expect a police procedural, Gotham Central is the comic you wanted it to adapt. Reading it is like watching a well-made cop drama*. If you’re a fan of police procedurals, Brubaker and Rucka, or the idea of a comic about regular cops in Gotham dealing with living in the shadow of the bat, you’ll find something to like in this book.

*Specifically, one with less singing than Cop Rock. Unless the Music Meister shows up later in the series—I guess that’s possible.

Collected in

  • Gotham Central, Vol. 1: In the Line of Duty (#1-5)
  • Gotham Central, Vol. 2: Half a Life (#6-10)
  • Gotham Central, Book One: In the Line of Duty (#1-10)
  • Gotham Central Omnibus (#1-40)


Writers: Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka | Artist: Michael Lark | Colorists: Noelle Giddings, Matt Hollingsworth, Lee Loughridge | Letterer: Willie Schubert

Archie: Volume Two (Archie Comics, 2015; #7-12)

Descender: “Machine Moon” (Image Comics, 2015; #7-11)