4 out of 5
While I can’t know for sure, it really seems like Greg got hijacked on this arc, turning what could’ve been a tight, three-part character-focused story into a tight two-parter… that seems like it’s missing some interstitial moments. It’s to Greg’s credit (and Lark and Gaudiano, as always nailing the personalities of our principles and the dialogue beats) that the story still works, it’s just a bummer that it had to be written in to two issues to make way for a crossover issue afterwards.
But: this is Greg’s parallel to the great work Brubaker was doing on the last arc, and helping to fulfill the promise of this title that had been there since the start. Whereas Ed went with a procedural angle, Rucka stretches his character work skills to continue exploring Montoya and Allen’s partnership, as well as propping up the guy that’d been name-dropped several times in issue leading up to these: crime scene tech Corrigan.
Our cop duo confront some gang members in issue 23, only to be really terrifyingly interrupted by a dual-gun wielding Black Spider, who Allen puts down after Montoya takes several bullets in her vest. Alas, a clipped gangster on the scene cries ‘police foul’ at the hands of Allen, that he was shot at by the cop – which we know is untrue – and the final bullet from the scene that would clear Allen’s name has been hocked online as crime scene memorabilia by Corrigan. The way IAD and Montoya end up playing off of each other in issue 24 is pitch-perfect, and Greg finds a good balance between including a satisfying smackdown and yet not glorifying the violence.
But there’s an issue 23.5 somewhere in here that sells the threat to Allen a bit more convincingly. Instead, it’s relegated to the pre-issue “here’s what’s happening” prattle, which tells us about the missing bullet and the investigation around it. Skipping over a book that would trail that out more definitely hobbles the tension, but the remaining halves we get are each so well effected that, overall, the arc still works.