Gotham Central #24 Review

Reviewer: Andy Logan
Story Title: Corrigan, Part Two

Written by: Greg Rucka
Art by: Michael Lark & Stefan Gaudiano
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Clem Robins
Editor: Matt Idelson
Publisher: DC Comics

Overview:
Hmmm”¦.that was waaay out of left-field. I mean, I didn’t see that one coming, no Sir. Gotham Central has a history of intricate, gripping, gritty story-arcs that take somewhere in the region of 4 – 6 issue’s to resolve. In this latest arc however, this issue represents the second and, surprisingly, final part of this particular “episode”.

The set-up in the last issue laid several plot threads that seemed as if they would bear fruit and evolve at the usual pace – and yet, in this latest issue, everything is wrapped up, (nearly) nice and neat, and the status quo is quickly returned to. At least, as much status quo as you ever get in this title, anyway.

Not that it really matters how long the story arc lasts for, as we’re treated to yet another wonderfully written and ultra-realistic slice of Police Department life. Also, once again, the research and background detail that has gone into the crafting of this tale makes my brain hurt. Corrigan is a story that perfectly demonstrates the internal politics, rules and regulations that govern police work.

The word “realism” is often used when referring to Gotham Central – and with good reason too. I truly applaud Greg Rucka for the painstaking attention to detail that has obviously gone into this, and indeed, every other issue of Gotham Central; the same plaudit has to go to those issues written by Ed Brubaker, too.

An interesting change occurs right at the start of the book. The recap of what has happened in previous issue’s, normally done via a series of wordless panels showing events over the story arc as a whole, has been replaced with a more straightforward and traditional written exposition. Indeed, this also happened in the previous issue, telling us what had occurred during the “Unresolved” story arc.

This is to be applauded. One of the most confusing things for a new reader to Gotham Central can be the large cast list, and the tightly woven nature of the stories means it’s not easy to jump on board half way through an arc – or even at the end of it. Providing a more detailed written breakdown of previous events makes the issue more accessible for somebody who has picked it up without first having read Issue 23 – or any of the other issues for that matter.

Anyway, apart from the unusually fast paced nature of the arc, there are several interesting and outstanding moments. The nature of people’s reactions (other than her partner, Crispus Allen) to Renee Montoya’s sexuality hasn’t been fully explored. Indeed, it’s only been lightly touched upon, and even then, in a mostly positive light.

In this issue, Montoya’s attempt at tapping up Jo MacDonald for information causes angry words to be exchanged between them, in the midst of which is a jibe from MacDonald that could cause massive grief and upset for Montoya if she were to take too personally. To the characte’s credit, she doesn’t, instead choosing to reply in a calm, measured manner.

That’s not to say MacDonald is a homophobe – far from it. Rather, it’s a wonderful example from the writer of the sort of heat of the moment remark that people make in real life – a remark that often causes considerable angst and regret at a later date. Too often in comics, when a characte’s homosexuality is discussed, it’s couched in tepid and politically correct terms, but Greg Rucka, in one simple scene, has given us some much needed realism (there’s that word again).

Mind you, further on into the issue, Montoya gives full reign to her anger as she goes head-to-head with Corrigan in a dirty back street brawl. And boy, does it ever make you wince – wonderfully drawn and colored; you can almost feel the pain of the two protagonists.

We are also shown a tender and touching scene between Montoya and her lover, Dee, that allows us to see Dee’s fears and concerns over both the job Montoya does, and the person she fears Montoya is capable of becoming. It helps further flesh out the dynamic between the two, and Rucka deftly manages to demonstrate their genuine love and affection without sensationalizing the relationship.

While we do get to see the home life and family of Cris Allen at the very beginning of this book, and Esperanza is allowed to demonstrate a more sympathetic and human side to his previously cold character, this, ultimately, is Renee Montoya’s issue. She’s involved in just about every single panel of the book; it’s obvious that Rucka loves the character, and it’s not hard to see why. Feisty but feminine, hard edged but caring, cynical but compassionate, Montoya is a fully realized and expertly crafted entity.

In keeping with many of Gotham Central’s stories, the dénouement is very much a double edged sword. We are treated to both a positive and negative resolution; Allen may or may not be cleared of all charges, but the person responsible for causing all of the pain and stress in the first place appears to escape any further disciplinary action.

Again, as in real-life, very little about Gotham Central is couched in terms of pure black and white. It’s all shades of grey – and long may it continue.