Gotham Central—Book 1: In the Line of Duty

gotham central book 1 in the line of duty cover trade paperback michael lark art
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Art: 8/10

Great look at normal people in a world of superheroes

Takes aspects of Astro City, Marvels, Top Ten, and Powers

Comic Info

Comic Name:   Gotham Central

Publisher:  DC Comics

Writer:  Greg Rucka/Ed Brubaker

Artist:  Michael Lark

# of Issues:  10

Release Date:  2008


Gotham Central #2

Reprints Gotham Central #1-10 (February 2003-October 2003). Gotham is a dark place and sometimes it only seems like Batman is keeping it safe.  In the GCPD, a group of cops are fighting to survive in a town filled with super villains and do their own work to bring criminals to justice.  When Mr. Freeze goes on a rampage, Marcus Driver tries to bring him in without the Bat’s help.  A kidnapping turns tragic as Firebug is hunted by police.  Renee Montoya is outed to her fellow officers, and the murder of the man responsible puts her on trial to prove her innocence.

Written by Greg Rukka and Ed Brubaker, Gotham Central—Book 1: In the Line of Duty collects three storylines “In the Line of Duty” (Gotham Central #1-2), “Motive” (Gotham Central #3-5), and “Half a Life” (Gotham Central #6-10) of the award winning series.  The comic book was partially used for the basis of the Gotham TV series and features art by Michael Lark.  The issues in the collection were also collected in Gotham Central 1:  In the Line of Duty and Gotham Central 2:  Half a Life but the entire series was then collected into four large collections.

Gotham Central was a good series. In the vein of Alan Moore’s Top Ten and Brian Michael Bendis’ Powers, the story looked at cops in a world of superhumans.  Unlike both Top Ten and Powers, the people in the book were normal officers and not gifted with abilities or powers.  Gotham Central posed the question of what it really would be like to be completely under-“powered” to take on some of the worst crime.


Gotham Central #10

The comic is good because it combines the best parts of shows like Law & Order with a superhero book. Like Busiek’s Marvels or Astro City, normal people are supposed to inhabit cities like Gotham and would have to deal with the danger daily.  Batman has always painted the GCPD as a corrupt organization with a few good officers and this series works to redeem them a bit by presenting the complex nature of the work they are doing.  The story does keep some of the officers as dangerous criminals with badges, but for the most part, the writers stick to the positive characters.

While “Motives” is a rather forgettable middle act of the volume, the series ends strong with “Half a Life”. Renee Montoya was original created for Batman:  The Animated Series and seemed a bit one dimensional in her use.  Here, she’s show as lesbian and a minority in a male dominated force and what would happen if she was suddenly outed in a major criminal case.  It shows where this comic can go, and the potential for storylines for characters who have always been background players.

Gotham Central is a must if you are a fan of the series Gotham or if you like smartly written crime thrillers. Both Rucka and Brubaker have a name as crime-thriller authors and this is some of their best comic book work.  Gotham Central is a smart and gritty series that makes complex heroes out of the police trying to bring justice to a world where the scales are tipped against them.  Gotham Central—Book 1:  In the Line of Duty is followed by Gotham Central—Book 2:  Jokers and Madmen.

Related Links:

Gotham Central—Book 2: Jokers and Madmen

Gotham Central—Book 3:  On the Freak Beat

Gotham Central—Book 4:  Corrigan

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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