By Scott Southard. The ever-present expectation-to-outcome ratio is an endlessly frustrating beast. It requires the creators behind top tier titles to regularly put out immaculate content, and anything less than groundbreaking is met with mediocre reception and disappointed criticism. It sets the bar unreasonably high, and while this can sometimes inspire teams to soar to great heights, more often than not this sets us all up to be let down when the content isn’t mindblowing or game changing. However, this leaves room for the underdog of the comic world. Now and again, a series comes out without expectations for greatness, and the fertility of such a notion allows the comic to take control of itself and blossom into something spectacular.
The Undisputed Best Non-Batman-Centric Horror Title Set in Gotham City is tearing through the universe it has built itself upon, leaving piles of bodies in its wake. With Detectives Corrigan and Drake both left presumably dead in an explosive, Spectre-inspired car crash, GCPD’s supernatural crime division is covered in red tape and without the manpower to process the recent events. Which is poor timing, seeing as a veritable history of the city’s crime is soaring back into existence. All Gothamites who’ve died unjustly within the city have risen to fight alongside the resurgence of Ikkondrid the Betrayed (you remember him, right? The big, tendrily, shadowswamp monster?) in a battle over the city itself.
As sick as we all are of zombies (and we’ve been sick of them for a while now), there’s something about a fresh take on the walking corpse phenomenon that gets me every time. The dead rising out of injustice for their very deaths? I’m in, and I’m sympathetic, even if the zombies are doing their damnedest to tear down the foundations of a city we all care for. The street-flooding chaos that follows amplifies the pandemonium, turning it into a citywide free for all. Fawkes and Ferreyra do a wonderful job of keeping it interesting even when the tropes being used have been beaten to death over the past dozen years.
What Gotham by Midnight has always excelled at is imposing a sense of mood on the reader. Whether it’s an eerie tension or a gloomy dread, it bleeds through every page in a way that few comics can emulate. In #11, the overarching sentiment is a sense of immediate urgency. Every page is do or die, and it’s consistently conveyed in a way that keeps the reader’s muscles tense throughout the entire issue. It’s truly surprising how the riots on the streets of Gotham remain at a rolling boil, and the threat of complete destruction is steadily imminent.
More than anything, this series has a great amount of control over itself. Gotham by Midnight knows what it’s doing, and continues to forge ahead with great command of its characters and causality of their actions. The cartoonish dynamism of the artwork encapsulates the terror in the city streets (and deistic Godzilla battles) without going overboard, and the narration touches on deep poetic notions without becoming a masterbatory slugfest of over-enunciated truisms. It takes ownership of its content and context in impressively bombastic ways. Gotham by Midnight consciously exceeds all expectations, and the revelation of that knowledge is paramount.
Written by Ray Fawkes
Art by Juan Ferreyra
Letters by Saida Temofonte
8 out of 10