In Review: Gotham by Midnight #1

Gotham has gone supernatural and it's a dream come true for horror fans.

The covers: The Main cover has all six members of the Midnight Shift, with Jim Corrigan looming monstrously behind them. His left eye is expelling energy, and if you know anything about Corrigan you know why. The entire group is engulfed in flames as they strike poses suitable for their characters. I love Ben Templesmith’s art and this was the cover I had to purchase. The Variant cover is by Andrea Sorrentino with Marcelo Maiolo. This cover is split vertically, with Corrigan walking away from the reader. On the left he’s in the daylight walking a city street in Gotham, while on the right he’s in the dark and his body has transformed into his more powerful personae, with a stack of bones left in his wake. Good idea for a cover, but it doesn’t set the right tone for this book. Overall grade: Main A+ and Variant C

The story: “Gotham City is cursed. Poisoned by shadow. It can’t possible survive…without protection.” This is the introduction to the Midnight Shift, Precinct Thirteen, home of the GCPD Detailed Case Task Force. Ray Fawkes has written a smooth opening to this group of detectives that function much like Mike Mignola’s B.P.R.D. After the one page introduction, the action goes to Internal Affairs officer Sergeant Rook (great name) arriving, being greeted by Lieutenant Weaver. Rook is there to find out what this unit does, as they’ve arrested no one, have a discretionary budget overseen by Commissioner Gordon, and their case reports don’t make any sense. He’s planning to shut them down. Weaver introduces their two consultants, Doctor Szandor Tarr and Sinster Justine. Tarr is looking a body that’s been transformed to pure salt. As this is going on, Jim Corrigan, their leader, is meeting with Batman, who needs his finesse in identifying a particular type of case. As other members meet with Rook, Corrigan comes back and takes the sergeant with him on a case that ends on cliffhanger that will rock the Internal Affairs officer to the core. This type of group makes sense in the DC universe. With all the supernatural characters and their doings, it seem simple that a police force, run by the officer who’s the Spectre, would be trying to solve crimes involving them. It reminds me of the old Marv Wolfman Night Force series from the 1980s, though this is more police oriented. Having Rook come in as the outsider is a good way to introduce the team and their methods to the reader. This is a promising start. Overall grade: A 

The art: Ben Templesmith is an amazing artist. He can make horror be found in any environment. There’s nothing blatantly horrific in this issue until the end, but his visuals are unsettling even when focusing on the heroes. He’s excellent at creating gothic environments, as shown on the first and second pages, with the latter being very impressive, making the reader understand Rood’s comment completely. The characters look strong, with Rook being the intense bald alpha male of the book until Corrigan arrives, who with a look can put the interloper in his place. The final seven pages are horror perfection. It’s a slow burn as two characters enter a setting that has every warning possible warning sign, yet they proceed. The  move to the setting slowly, perfectly, like a growing nightmare, until the horror is revealed on the final page. You may have seen the supernatural in Gotham before, but you ain’t seen nothing like this! Templesmith is also coloring his own work, so this book reeks gloriously in sepia, making the world that these characters inhabit rotten. The red curtains of a home are a great transition to the car ride to the final setting. Templesmith is a master of creating the ominous mood. Overall grade: A+

The letters: The opening page’s font is a super way to set the classical gothic tone this book has. Dezi Sienty continues his excellence with opening credits, dialogue, scene setting, a transmission, and tease for next month’s issue. They are creepy and fantastic. There are a few sounds on the book, but they are created by Templesmith onto his art. Overall grade: A

The final line: This is the supernatural horror book DC has been looking for. Gotham has gone supernatural and it’s a dream come true for horror fans. Overall grade: A

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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