Gotham Central, Vol. 1: In the Line of Duty - Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka, Michael Lark 3 – 3.5 stars

Wouldn’t it be great to be a cop in Gotham City? I mean the Bat would pretty much take down anything serious leaving you more time with your coffee and doughnuts, right? Well, as this comic series from Ed Brubaker shows: not so much. It appears that Bats is a whacko-magnet and given that he’s only human (despite what editorial fiat from the DC offices may pretend in the storylines they approve) that means that there are a ton of crazy psychopaths with either superpowers or the military hardware of an advanced alien civilization who have a point to prove or score to settle who mark Gotham as stop #1 on their magical mystery tour and even if the caped crusader nabs half of them before they commit too many lethal crimes it still leaves more than any three police forces can handle running rampant in the city.

This comic had a pretty cool vibe, sort of Law and Order meets the DC Universe as we follow the trials and travails of some of the cops on the beat in the city of the Bat. All of the members of the unit we are following were hand-picked by Jim Gordon, former police commissioner and good buddy of the man in black. Not all of these officers share his love for the vigilante, though, especially when the kind of crime he seems to attract means that friends and co-workers are getting terminated after they fall into situations the police academy did not prepare them for. This first story arc covers the fallout from the death of a detective who thought he was on a routine check on info from a snitch, only to fall into the hands of Mr. Freeze. Add on to that a kidnapping case going nowhere and an arsonist displaying the costume and arsenal of Batman’s old foe “the Firebug” and things are getting difficult for the cops at Gotham Central.

I enjoyed this comic and thought it was probably one of the more effective ones I’ve read when it comes to displaying the ways in which having a costumed superhero in something approaching our world might not be such an awesome thing. By centring not so much on Joe Schmoe in the street who may be able to avoid much interaction with any of the craziness of the metahuman world and thus retain his sense of hero-worship, but on the cops who can’t help but deal with events and people they are in no way trained or equipped to handle it gave an interesting perspective to things. In some ways it could be considered similar to Brian Michael Bendis’ Powers, but I have to admit that _Gotham Central_ seems to approach the issues from a much more realistic perspective. All in all a good read and, at least from my perspective, something that covered new ground which is not what I generally expect from DC comics.