It’s the witching hour in Precinct 13, Gotham City. Internal Affairs is rocking up at the door, wondering how this one precinct gets budget, consultants and a bad vibe. The Precinct building is falling apart and looks like it needs to be demolished, like it’s one good storm away from coming down completely. Or one earthquake – whichever happens first…
There’s a lovely urban Gothic aesthetic to Ben Templesmith’s art and colours in this issue. You know just from looking at page one that you’re going to get creepy, unnerving and eerie. Templesmith’s bibliography includes drawing for 30 Days of Night, so he is in his element here and the pages look gorgeous.
Gotham by Midnight is not going for dark in the most overly contrived manner, but Ray Fawkes manages to slip in the right amount of supernatural kitsch. He’s managed a better job here than in his writing on Constantine issue one, which I despised when I read it the first time and still do. I didn’t want to read more after that issue, but here I’m clamouring to get my hands on issue two. Fawkes just feels more competent moving characters around the streets of Gotham than in the head and world of John Constantine.
The choice of opening plot is emotive in all the right ways: there’s kids in danger and the threat of the team that we’ve just met being disbanded, potentially facing criminal charges. You get the sense that the team is made of people who are worth caring for: they’re doing something that no one else can do. This starting storyline has hooked me in well.
At this point, if you’ve not read much featuring the character Jim Corrigan or the Spectre, you might not fully appreciate what’s going on with Corrigan and his significance in the DCU. However, if you’ve an interest in the GCPD and having superheroes on the sidelines, it doesn’t matter if you’ve little knowledge of the history of Corrigan as a character – this first issue is definitely a reasonable anecdote to much of what’s happening in the New 52 at the moment.
While tales of the supernatural are a fave of mine, generally, I do feel that this first issue set up a sense of expectation and intrigue in a more thoughtful manner than what has been happening with the Gotham TV series. Fawkes isn’t forcing the series’ connection to the rest of the Gotham scene too much, Batman’s brief appearance feels natural and relevant. It’s not too cluttered with references that you need to get in order to enjoy reading it. So far it’s just a supernatural mystery, which, if you like that genre in other mediums, is well served in Fawkes’ pages here.
This first issue of Gotham by Midnight is a promising start and really surprised me with this accessibility and thoughtfulness. It might not heavily involve any big hitters in DC’s universe, but that doesn’t hold back the quality of the story involved here. Fawkes and Templesmith have delivered a comic that is like Gotham Central crossed with Vertigo Hellblazer. It knows its law and is keen to show us where it can take us into the belly of Gotham and its less frequented corners, while not making us worry about what’s happened in the New 52 so far. I definitely recommend giving it a read.
Gotham by Midnight issue one is out now. Our reviewer bought their own copy.