5 out of 5
So in rereading my comic collection to narrow down just to items of which I want to have a physical copy (shelving space limitations y’all), Gotham Central came up on the chopping block. 100% of the way though my readings, up to this point, I’ve been satisfied to say that what I’m deigning to keep is the kind of stuff that I will want to reread; the stuff that’s going I’m glad I checked it out but I don’t need it. Gotham Central is on the chopping block (the criteria is honestly just based around writers and publishers), and I was hesitant to go through it… because I remember, pretty clearly, how great it was. Maybe that clarity ain’t so clear though, I questioned; maybe I’ll find out I had them rose-tinted glasses on the first time.
Gotham Central was goddamn solid for the vast majority of its run, which is not only impressive for a book that made it past the teens, but also for a book from one of the Big Two. And Dead Robin, bringing back together our two series writers, is at the top of that solid pile, delivering not only a solid mystery from start to finish, but one that also manages to make all of the asides regarding our various characters feel important; wended into the narrative. Almost everyone has some kinda beef with someone else by now – with Corrigan; with the press; with Batman himself – and it all plays a part here, as the MCU investigates the murder of a teen who could be Robin: dressed in the hero’s outfit, found dead in an alley, right age, right build, etc. Bats and the Teen Titans swing by to confirm it’s not, but Gotham Central again reminds us of what it’s like to not be behind the curtain of knowing secret identities and whatnot: to the GCPD, they can’t just take Batman’s word on it, and before long, it’s blowing up in the press and then suddenly there’s another body; another Robin…
Giving the arc another bump, Stefan Gaudiano and Kano switch roles as artist and inker, and I gotta tell ya, Kano could’ve been the next king on this book – after Lark – had it lasted much further beyond these issues. Whereas the other pencillers we’ve seen have seemed to be trying to work within the Lark template, Kano has a clean, expressive style that’s beefed up by Stefan’s inks, and it just feels wonderfully fresh and yet totally fitting.
Now, I know, I know, which comics I keep is obviously totally my decision. But my collectors brain requires “rules” by which I collect, and Gotham Central still will have to go. If I come back around to by the series in trades again, some day, you can say ‘I told you so,’ knowing how good the book was, and how great the Dead Robin arc was.