On The Freak Beat, Part Two of Two
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Jason Alexander
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Clem Robins
Editor: Matt Idelson
Okay, I’ll admit it, last issue’s “cliff hanger” concerning Josie Mac’s “gift” of being able to read objects left me cold.
One of the best things about Gotham Central’s entire run so far has been how grounded it has been in reality and the every day world. Even with characters such as The Joker, Mad Hatter, et al, running around and causing problems, the way the MCU have dealt with things has always given the title a gritty, realistic feel.
Suddenly giving one of the officers – and a character who has enjoyed plenty of time in the spotlight too – a psychic ability of sorts, runs the risk of taking the series away from its pragmatic feel and move it more towards the realm of the supernatural, and that would be, I think, a crying shame.
Having said that, the way the gift was dealt with and the way the arc wrapped up this issue laid rest to (just about) all of my fears. Yes, Josie Mac still has her ability, but as long as we can continue down this current path, subtly making use of the situation and the consequences of the ability, there’s no reason to worry about losing the edge that Gotham Central has had in the previous 26 issues.
This whole issue, in fact, is very much Josie’s spotlight, as her character is given center stage virtually on every single page. That’s no bad thing, as Brubaker (he only lets certain people call him that) expertly crafts her motivations and make-up, making her a very real and very absorbing character to spend time with.
Catwoman’s ambiguity is also nicely presented – you’re never quite sure what her personal motivation and goals are, only that she is largely interested in feathering her own nest and protecting her own neck. Josie’s struggle to trust Catwoman even though she feels she can’t and, indeed, shouldn’t, is well presented.
As usual, good old fashioned detective work is at the heart of things here, and following the trail of clues and breadcrumbs leads to a satisfying conclusion, in which the bad guys are punished and the good guys go home happy.
This is a rare occurrence in Gotham Central, as usually, the denouement is bitter-sweet, involving some sort of moral trade-off or a “victory” that is largely couched in shades of grey.
It’s not often that we get and ending that’s as black and white – of Cops win, criminals guys lose – as we get here, and it makes for a welcome change…just not one I would like to see happen too often. Heh.
It’s a satisfying read, and while not one of the best issues within what has been a top quality series run so far, it does maintain the same consistent high standard of readability as many of the others.
A final word, if I may, about the art. If I EVER saw art such as Jason Alexander’s in most comics, I would recoil in horror. No offence folks, but I have to honest. Alexander’s artwork isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing I’ve ever seen. And yet, somehow, someway, it FITS within this title. The rough, crude style of art and coloring is a perfect match to the unique style and feel that is all Gotham Central’s own.