Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Gotham Central: Book Four- Corrigan by Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker, Kano and Stephano Gaudiano

Gotham City is defended from supervillains by Batman and his assistant, Robin. But they don't do their job alone. They are helping, and being resented by, the Gotham City Police, and while the former Comissioner Gordon made great strides in cleaning up the formerly corrupt Police Department, his retirement has meant more corruption in the Police Department. This volume collects several stories.

"Nature" sees a young girl killed by a couple of corrupt cops who are shaking down a drug dealer for money. When they hear her, she attempts to flee, and one of the cops kills her by accident. When Renee Montoya and her Partner, Crispus Allen show up to the scene, they realize that the beat cops aren't giving them a straight story. But these two beat cops are part of a larger pool of corruption, and they are desperate not to go down for the killing. However, the young woman wasn't as alone and friendless as the cops seem to think, and another force comes in to get vengeance and justice for the murdered girl.

"Dead Robin" has the body of a young man turn up dead in Robin's outfit in a back alley. While the body seems like it might actually be Robin, since it is young and in very good shape, not to mention athletic, both Batman and other groups that Batman is a part of are all telling the cops that the real Robin is still alive. But the cops can't take their word for it unless the other superheroes give the Cops Robin's real name, which they won't do.

As it turns out, the young man is an gymnast who had recently broken into advertising and acting, and when a second man dressed as Robin turns up floating in Gotham's river, the cops and the regular inhabitants of the city begin wondering if the stories that Batman has multiple Robins all at the same time are true. But the Captain is worried that the picture of the body published in the local paper might have been passed on to the newspaper editor by one of the cops in the station. And the investigating officers, Romy Chandler and Nate Patton, are frustrated at being one step behind Batman all the way, as he takes this thing very seriously.

But when they catch him beating up the Penguin in the back of his club, Romy fires at Batman and hits him. When he goes down, she is so shocked that she drops her guard and Batman hits her back, breaking her nose and taking her gun. She can't tell the Captain what happened or be written up and possibly lose her job. But can the cops find the instigator of the Robin murders before he can kill any more young men?

"Sunday Bloody Sunday" shows the strain in the working relationship of Crispus Allen and Renee Montoya. Ever since she beat up Jim Corrigan in a back alley to find out who he sold the bullet that broke the case and saved her partner from IAD to, Renee has been drinking more and getting into more fights. Crispus is sick of it, and eventually finds out why she got into that fight, and that irks him even more, because while everyone knows that Corrigan is corrupt, now that Montoya hurt him, they can't as easily take him down. But when the aftermath of a fight with Captain Marvel sends the city into chaos, can both of them work together to get out of the chaos and make their way back to their loved ones?

In "Corrigan II", we find out that while Renee kept the secret of how she got the bullet that saved Crispus from him, he's been keeping a secret from her as well- Crispus has been doing his own investigation into Corrigan and is determined to put him away for good- but he can't involve Renee in the investigation, as the slightest hint of her presence could taint it. But when Crispus is lured into a dark garage and slaughtered by other corrupt cops, Renee must find a way to get justice for her partner. But will she make the right choice, or go for vengeance instead?

I love this series. I love the fact that none of the cops have super powers or super skills, and that they must do their best to try and deal with criminals both ordinary and superpowered to keep their city safe. I like reading about the different detectives, and even the support people like Stacy the Receptionist, who has a crush on Batman and is seemingly friends with Robin as well, and Nora, the city coroner.

These stories are great human stories, and yet they gain something by being set in a world with Superheroes. You have to wonder who is more heroic: those who fight crime with superpowers or super skills on their side, not to mention armor and technology the police can't hope to match, or those same human cops who go out every day to do their jobs with merely human strength and crappy guns, and do it day after day after day, knowing that every case could be their last. Even if they are getting paid for their work, the reader often feels that it isn't enough, and the sometimes quiet triumphs that the cops get, while Batman may get the limelight, they are the ones doing the work and only get complaints.

I really enjoy this series, and this book was both painful to read (because I really like both Crispus Allen and Renee Montoya, and they get put through Hell in this book) and wonderful to read, because I was still enjoying the story and hoping they would manage to bring Corrigan down. I highly recommend this series. It's grim and gritty and while in some aspects, it's not exactly realistic, in other ways, it is extremely realistic, and that realism is part of the attraction of reading it. If you haven't picked it up yet, do so as fast as you can. One of the best series out there today.

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