Gotham by Midnight #9 review

Gotham by Midnight 9

I am genuinely stunned by what just happened in this book. Literally, my jaw dropped as I turned the pages toward the climax. That look on Jim’s face at the end: confused, horrified, destroyed: that was me. Ray Fawkes has delivered a bona fide holocaust masquerading as a run-of-the-mill police procedural. Consider me standing and applauding–and still shocked and horrified–and heartbroken. No mean trick, mind you: I take ghoulish delight in most comic book carnage, but this was something else altogether.

Which makes it all the more devastating that this book has been cancelled. I can only hope that the intention was, from the beginning, to tell this singular story. And that we’ll get an ending to end all endings.

Whatever the case, even if you haven’t read a single issue up into now, I cannot more strongly recommend that you go out and buy this book. The Internal Affairs interrogation will tell you all you need to know about the series to catch up even this late in the game, and Ferreyra’s art, well, that alone is worth the purchase price even if you don’t want to read the story.

The Quickening

Aptly titled “The Truth” this issue is full of revelations about just what the heck has been going on. Not only with Ikkondrid, the angry spirit of the murdered ancestors of Gotham, but with Jim Corrigan and his (literal) bosom buddy, The Spectre. I won’t spoil the truths that get revealed, but I will say there’s an ominous bit of foreshadowing on the first page of the book that I overlooked on the first read-through. It’s subtle enough to glance over, but brilliant.

While Corrigan and Lisa Drake are being individually grilled by IA representatives about what’s been going on with the Midnight Shift, Lieutenant Weaver and Doctor Tarr are back at the home base being cleaned out by Sergeant Rook and Kate Spencer who have a warrant to seize all of their files and equipment. They’re on the short track to be charged with murder, conspiracy, assault, negligence–pretty much anything the department can throw at them. Weaver reminds Rook that Corrigan saved his life, but to no avail.

The action of the story is largely formula interrogation stuff, but Fawkes keeps it fresh by intercutting it full of flash memories of the Spectre’s chaotic deeds and cranking up the tension throughout the talk. Lisa Drake’s own interrogation is similarly fraught with problems as she seems to crack under the pressure–but not in the way most people do.

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Reference to Arkham Manor: +1 for Continuity!

I’ve talked about Ferreyra’s art with glowing praise since he took on the book and this issue is no slouch. In a book that’s almost 20 pages of police interiors, the visuals never get boring. Ferreyra finds angles to keep things dramatic without tilting out of control just to avoid the straight-on shot. There are a lot of close-up panels on eyeballs shifting around. Ferreyra glazes them effectively to heighten the emotions of the characters as they are pushed into extremis.

And the Spectre himself: he’s never looked so dark, so dangerous, so anything-but-righteous. There’s something rotten in Gotham all right, and maybe Ikkondrid is the least of the city’s problems. Ferreyra’s painterly style and use of bold, saturated colors continue to set this book apart. It feels alive on the page, animated. If you read it in the dark on a digital device, I swear it almost feels like there’s actual movement in the panels. Flipping in your hand, in print, it feels rich and full.

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Don’t tell them, Jim!

The Quibbling

There’s a strange lot of talk about the Joker in this book. I bring it up because of the age old question (raised quite deliberately here): why doesn’t the Spectre just obliterate the super-villains of the city? We had the answer to that once before in The Spectre vol. 3 No. 51 “A Savage Innocence” (1997), quite ably answered by John Ostrander whose work on this series was masterful. Will Fawkes pursue this question? Will he offer an answer of his own? Is what we get here the answer? It’s too terrible to conceive–what’s going to happen next? Why was this series cancelled? Why do we have to wait until the end of October to resolve this cliffhanger! Arghhh!

Meanwhile: Rook! Spencer! What the heck is the matter with these guys? If the last book gave you whiplash, this one has another serving. I want to believe that the waffling as to who is defending and who is persecuting is purposeful. Seriously: wasn’t Kate Spencer the one who was coming after them? And now Rook is asking if she’s representing Weaver? Or has Weaver turncoated suddenly? That, I don’t think. It’s a weird stumble for Fawkes, whose characters have otherwise felt pretty solid and consistent.

It’s a minor thing, comparatively. The real story here is Corrigan’s. Whether and how his team falls apart is almost insignificant compared to the furnace he’s about to endure.

Recommended If…

  • You read comic books.
  • You have a pulse.
  • Just buy this. I don’t care that we can’t save the series–you should read it anyway because it’s Just. That. Awesome.

Overall

It’s been almost exactly a year to the day since I’ve given a comic book a 10/10 review. This book deserves every bit of it. And not just because I’m emotional about the cancellation announcement, but because, emotionally, this book just gets me where I live: Corrigan is shaping up to be a truly tragic figure with a harrowing burden, and although not all the truths have been revealed at this point, the action can only escalate toward a finale of cataclysmic and tragic proportions.

SCORE: 10/10

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