My introduction to graphic novels was through The Walking Dead series, and I’m really only just dipping my toe in the water when it comes to DC and Marvel titles. I love superheroes, I really do. I’ll watch the films and I’ll wear the T-shirts, but when it comes to comics, the universes are just so vast. The only other DC title I’ve read to this point has been Batwoman, and while I did love the characters at the heart of it, it assumed so much background knowledge of villains and past plots and the dense little world of Gotham, that in the end I gave up after three volumes. There was something about the premise of Gotham Central that called to me though – framing this universe through the eyes of the long suffering police department who repeatedly find themselves overshadowed by a masked vigilante, a human focus on the bizarre, a Law & Order: Gotham, if you will.
I was definitely not disappointed. I loved this book, a lot more than I expected to. The characters are well fleshed out and so human, with real struggles and feelings that really ground the story in the face of – let’s face it – slightly silly villains like Mr Freeze. The artwork isn’t especially beautiful, but I doubt it’s supposed to be. It gives a gritty backdrop to a dark city, and doesn’t distract or detract from the plots at hand. Some graphic novels you have to read a little slower, really take your time picking out details from each panel, but for me this wasn’t one of them. There’s a continual sense of these characters working against the clock, trying to solve cases before the Batman swoops in and takes over, that contributes to a fast pace that rarely relents. I got a lot more than I expected from this volume, and I’ll definitely be picking up the second (not in the least because I really want to give Renee Montoya a giant hug).