Gotham Central: Half a Life (#6 – 10) – Greg Rucka

3 out of 5

‘That’s not my Gotham Central,’ I thought, as the GCPD police procedural turned in to a personal tale focused on Renee Montoya.

Gotham Central would do this throughout its run: remind us every now and then of its potential, of a grounded look at trying to do your job when surrounded by psychos and superheroes, and then get distracted by some indulgences – in this case, Greg Rucka’s focus on Montoya – or, later on, goddamned crossover storylines.  To be fair, this was probably the proper place for Greg to tell this story, in which Montoya’s sexuality is outed to her precinct, but the way it unravels, it’s a big sidestep from the beat-by-beat pacing of the first two storylines, and very lacking in the ‘inner workings’ vibe those issues offered.  In order to better enmesh Half a Life in comic bookery, Rucka adds a mystery on top of it: the person who posted a pic of Renee smooching her girlfriend on the GCPD bulletin board is a perp who’d been harassing her, who later shows up dead, all evidence pointing to Montoya.  But it’s very heavy-handedly approached, and the subsequent IAD investigation lacks a sense of seriousness (as in: the case is a bit too obviously set up to ever actually worry about it); the ‘reveal’ of who’s behind it all also feels like just an attempt to shoehorn this story in to Batman-dom.

Renee’s main story is really well written: her hidden relationship; her difficult relation with her family.  I can understand Greg wanting to dig in to it more, and I wish there’d been a better place to do that that didn’t require some requisite action and twists to flesh it out into an arc.

Artist Michael Lark continues to shine, though Matt Hollingsworth’s colors in the first two issues flatten his pencils / inks out rather unfortunately; Lee Loughridge takes over in issues 8-10 and brings back a sense of grit and dimension.