“We Will Not Rest” picks right up from where issue no. 1 left us–in the grip of a hideous beast-nun who’s got a schoolroom full of “infected” children.

We still don’t know much about Detective Drake and Doctor Tarr, which has me a bit flummoxed. I almost feel like the team is too big and 20 pages is too few to get a good sense of the big picture; but that’s likely a personal problem. I have always struggled with team dynamics in comics and TV shows. Give me a couple of main characters (2 or 3), and a supporting cast of another 3 or 4 and I’m okay. Drop 5 characters on me as supposed “equals” and I don’t know how to divide my focus. So I expect it will be another two or three issues before I feel comfortable commenting on whether and how this team works.

For this issue, we do see them engaged in the mystery and building on clues from the previous book. We only move incrementally forward, however, as they identify five names of what we can assume are powerful demons out of the untranslatable babble of the affected children. We are also assured through the narrative that this is a “tip of the iceberg” kind of story where what they are seeing now is nothing compared to what’s coming (naturally)!

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Well now,  that’s nothing you want to encounter in the dead of night

The Good

Gotham by Midnight continues to have an X-files meets True Detectives vibe to it, which is win and win for me! Rook’s role as the inquiring mind from Internal Affairs continues to provide an expositional outlet but feels pretty natural. Jim Corrigan as written by Ray Fawkes is no-nonsense and self-assured, and just shy of the edge of being kind of a smart-ass–which is a good choice to avoid overlap with John Constantine, though comparisons are likely (Fawkes writes both). Whereas Constantine is a British wit and conniver, Corrigan has usually been portrayed as an Irish brawler with somewhat myopic sensibilities. I like how Fawkes makes him a little more sensible, a little more world-weary and so neither threatened nor impressed by others. It’s a good strong direction to take the character.

The driving action of this issue is Corrigan’s fight with the horror that is the infected nun school mistress, but we also get our first flashback into the relationship between Corrigan and Sister Justine. Fawkes has this flashback do triple duty, which is excellent: we see how timid and uncertain Sister Justine is (and a little bit of why), Sister Justine’s past ties directly into the present case. And we learn how Corrigan and Justine met and came to work together. What we don’t know is the actual timeline of these events as Fawkes merely indicates “Then” and “Now” as chronological markers. But let’s face it, this is a wise choice given the absurdity of reconciling continuity within an alleged New 52 five year time span.

Right off the bat (pun intended), I appreciate that Fawkes is avoiding some easy stereotypes here. There are some rotten possessed church people bordering on the offensive, but Sister Justine is sensitively written and I like that she’s not the knuckle-wrapping authoritarian, nor, the swaggering sailor-mouthed contradiction. She’s shy and soft-spoken (well conveyed by letterer Dezi Sienty’s use of diminutive type for all of her dialogue). Also, her role is the clearest so far of the group outside of Corrigan; she’s the meter-stick by which evil is tempered.

Ben Templesmith’s work, with one glaring exception (see below) continues to power this book with just the right kind of nervous dark energy. His creatures are fantastic and terrifying, but he also handles character studies deftly. The scene with Corrigan and Rooks sitting on the car and talking through what just happened has a cinematic loveliness. You can feel the weight on Rook’s conscience, you can see Corrigan hop off the car and go around (even though it happens in between the panels). This is just solid sequential storytelling in a moment in which otherwise not a whole lot of action is happening. The facing page in which we watch the car pull away and then press in on the swamp shares that quality as well. This is a book that is literally pushed through by the pictures, which is not something I can say for enough comics.

Also, that one panel where the Spectre arrives but we don’t get to see him: outrageously great stuff–spooky, weird, and impactful.

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Timid Sister Justine first meets cocky Jim Corrigan

The Bad

This book comes out of the gate a little groggy with some uncharacteristically stiff dialogue. “Listen, Sergeant! This is a situation.” Corrigan says to Rook. “Get these kids out of here if you can. Do it quickly in case this all goes South.”  The two look like they are under the very immediate threat of being eaten by a very angry-looking monster-nun and Corrigan is completing his sentences like a reporter from the sidelines. Worse still, Rook’s response is to waffle on about how he’s “basically an accountant”.  This could just be a bad marriage between the action and the dialogue. In a different setting or less fraught circumstances, the dialogue might track as normal, but given the drama of the pictures, the conversation seems almost absurdly nonsensical.

The good news is that the book recovers quickly and Fawkes and Templesmith seem to get on the same page after this opening, even though it does feel rough-going for a moment there. I admit I had originally slated this with a lower score as a result, but the truth is, despite its smirches, this is a dang exciting book, even if it seems pretty far afield of Gotham as we know it. And any book that has me returning for a second and third read gets a thumbs up from me.

The Ugly

The stuff of nightmares. Right here in this book. Seriously. Don’t read this before bed. Or in bed. Or on an iPad under the covers in a dark room. Brrrrr….

Recommended If…

  • You want something with creatures that might keep you up all hours; Templesmith is pulling out all the stops on the horror angle here.
  • You like a slow boil mystery and the building tension of waiting for the Spectre to pop out at any moment like the world’s most harrowing Jack-in-the-Box.

Overall

A little shaky at the start, but the issue picks up speed and is starting to dovetail nicely. Fawkes’ mystery deepens with events having a personal connection to the Midnight Team. We also get a greater sense of both the magnitude of what they are fighting and also of Jim Corrigan’s struggle to find any means available to problem-solve without invoking the Spectre (if he is able). Templesmith wreaks havoc on the page (perhaps a little too zealously in the opening scene), but the beauty of his colors and the vibrancy of his characters make this book visually delightful even in the midst of its grotesqueries.

SCORE: 8/10