Ray Fawkes’ Gotham By Midnight

UnknownAs you might have noticed in my review of the DC Showcase’s The Spectre animated short film, I find this DC character fascinating. So I was fascinating when I heard that DC had announced that this Gotham City based supernatural series was coming out late last year. Now I’ll admit my first impression wasn’t that positive to it as the artwork by Ben Templesmith initially turned me enough that I promptly forgot about it for several months.

House bound recently with a viral infection, I turned to the Internet for something interesting to read, and specifically to the DC app I’ve got on iPad. I’m a great believer in digital comics, so I’m currently following Infinite Crisis: Fight for the Multiverse and Injustice: Gods Among Us . Thus I decided to give it another try and downloaded the first two available issues.

(Yes, I like digital GNs, but also I also adore and own such treats as the Hellboy Library Editions, the hardcover BPRDs, the Fables hardcovers, Air, all of the Mouse Guards, and the Welcome to Tranquility series to name some of the print GNs I’ve got.)

So was I glad that I did? Quite so. The artwork is, as it always is for all of us, an acquired taste, worked much better this time as I realised it really fit the tone of this series which is far closer to the Vertigo era Hellblazer than anything in the current DC lineup. And that is a very good thing. Templesmith is the interior artist and the cover artist, a rare occurrence which I approve of.

Gotham By Midnight centers around Precinct Thirteen, the GCPD Detailed Case Task Force. It’s just a handful of personnel — a Catholic sister and a forensics expert, both consultants, a GCPD Lieutenant, and of course, Jim Corrigan aka The Spectre. But this is not The Spectre as traditionally depicted in flowing robes and such with a hooded cloak. No, this is a much horrifying Spectre — one that lives just within the skin of Corrigan who himself is far less handsome than he was in the DC Showcase I previously reviewed. Of course, this is Corrigan in the dark nights of Gotham City, not the sunny vistas of Los Angeles.

Corrigan here is human: enjoying eating and drinking, not just a ghost taking physical form. The Spectre is a much more subtle presence — Corrigan’s bones show through his skin, his eyes turn apparently all white at times, and once all of his body is just bones. He’s fucking spooky!

The story itself is pure old-style horror with even the single appearance of Batman in the first two issues fitting in nicely to that genre. If you liked Hellblazer, you’ll enjoy this series as it’s got demons from Hell, Things for Beyond, and who knows what else though Something Really Bad is coming out of Slaughter Swamp. Remember Solomon Grundy? Care to guess what swamp he rose from? I’m not saying this is what’s coming…

It certainly is good enough that’ll continue to read in the digital format. Oh and there’s an advantage to that format: no ads!

(DC, 2014)

Cat Eldridge

I'm the publisher of Green Man Review and Sleeping Hedgehog, both of which are my properties. My current reading is the Wylding Hall novella by Elizabeth Hand, Laura Bilkle’s Dark Alchemy, and listening to Charles de Lint’s The Wind in His Heart. I'm listening to a whole bunch of new Celtic and Nordic new releases but I'll dip in my music collection for such artists as Blowzabella, Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, and Frifot as the weather grows colder.

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