Writer: Ray Fawkes / Artist: Juan Ferreyra / DC Comics
If you haven’t heard the news, DC Comics has ordered the cancelation of Gotham by Midnight that will bring this book to wrap up in December. A shame, really – especially as this second arc finally hits its stride in Issue #9 and reminds us how good this series typically is. The build, anticipation, and ghastly climax make for a formula that works for its single-issue stories while the character development is more subtly cultivated in the long run – only there won’t be a long run anymore. If I could make one critique of Gotham by Midnight, it would be that it embraced the episodic crime drama feel to its own detriment by sacrificing the natural intrigue of its characters.
How much would readers love to have learned more about Lisa Drake and what makes her tick? To see her back story and her personal life? How much more could we have appreciated Tarr if we spent more time with him outside of a ghost scene? The short flashbacks of Sister Justine back in the series’ earliest issues were enough to make us care more about her than most other characters, and she didn’t even live long. Character development in an episodic story-driven series is always a gamble because it only works if you have enough time: you might know a ton about Benson and Stabler from Law & Order: SVU because you’ve learned bits and pieces over dozens – or hundreds – of episodes. Unless DC changes its mind, Paranormal Law & Order won’t have that luxury, unfortunately.
Issue 9 takes place almost exclusively indoors, within the confines of an interrogation room where Internal Affairs is finally putting the pressure on Corrigan. They’re also interrogating Lisa Drake, although both she and Corrigan are already familiar with the rodeo and not very likely to break the way their investigators would like. And so goes the issue – a psychological interrogation battle – building to a pretty striking conclusion (that will remain unspoiled here). In its simplicity, #9 was one of the best issues of Gotham by Midnight in months, and did exactly what a story twist should do: make you reevaluate everything you know in a new light.
Since the story took place indoors, Ferreyra’s skill was rather confined, yet he made up the loss with some great expressions and close-ups that built the intensity of certain parts of the conversation. When the issue hit its climax, his artwork did as well, capturing the trademark eerie horror of the series. One minor artistic detail though – did anyone else notice the random nasal strip that Lisa was suddenly wearing when she began to panic? It’s a possible inconsistency, but who cares, because when Lisa start trippin’ readers are put on edge.
Overall, Gotham by Midnight #9 is bittersweet reading as such a good issue comes on the heels of DC’s cancellation announcement. Nothing lasts forever, and I will appreciate the few months we have left with one of DC’s most unique series, and the first horror series I’ve enjoyed from the publisher.
9.1 out of 10