writer: Ray Fawkes / artist: Ben Templesmith / DC Comics
The Spectre is reborn and stands over Gotham City as its judge and executioner in Gotham by Midnight’s climactic issue #5. Ray Fawkes does a great job building tension and a sense of urgency, with the panic of the characters spilling through the pages into the reader. You have every belief that Lieutenant Weaver would do something drastic to end the crisis, and feel Lisa Drake’s hurt and panic as she feels the weight of everything around her. Fawkes and Templesmith capture the mood of what every finale should be – tense, urgent, and dire.
Templesmith continues to be the perfect artist for this project, with his dark, frightful style lending itself well to the tone of the horror series. As the Spectre looms ominously over the city, opposite his larger-than-life foe, you imagine being a resident of Gotham looking up at the calamity and dread around them, the likes of which Batman wouldn’t even be able to combat. That’s what makes this series so interesting within the DC Universe – it deals in the paranormal largely outside of Batman’s control.
The issue gives us the thoughts of Jim Corrigan during the ordeal, which is especially interesting because he’s paralyzed to do anything about it. He’s just the host to the Spectre, helpless, but observant. Elsewhere in the city, Weaver, Tarr, and Lisa scramble, panicked, trying to save millions of lives they’re clearly powerless to protect. They’re desperate – everyone is desperate – and grapple with the types of decisions you could barely stand to consider.
The issue is surprisingly easy to read for new readers, so even if you haven’t read the previous issues of the series you can hop in and instantly familiarize yourself with the disaster. The opening lines of the issue say enough to set you up just fine:
“We are past the breaking point. Battle has broken loose. Millions will die tonight… if we are not strong.”
Staying honest to finale-level tension they built, the issue ends without perfect answers but with consequence. Pick up this series even if you don’t consider yourself a horror-genre fan, you’re likely to enjoy it. The characters should continue to find their identities and make for a fun book. You can read previous reviews of Gotham by Midnight here.
Score: 9 out of 10