Today, Michael and Taylor are discussing Gotham by Midnight 9, originally released September 23rd, 2015.
Michael: Though Sergeant Rook came knocking on their door back in issue 1, Jim Corrigan and the rest of the Midnight Shift finally have to answer for their mysterious dealings in Gotham by Midnight 9. Rook tears through their station house for any potential evidence against the Midnight Shift while Corrigan and Lisa Drake are poked and prodded by Internal Affairs in their interrogation rooms. Both Corrigan and Drake go a few round with their respective interrogators without breaking a sweat – they are seasoned cops who how to play the game. The cops start leading Corrigan to the conclusion that he is the Spectre and that he knowingly chooses the Spectre’s victims. Needless to say Corrigan becomes agitated and the Spectre takes control, killing the two cops. The kicker is that Spectre tells Corrigan that the interrogators were right – Corrigan DOES pick the victims.
Recently I’ve been diving into the mystical realms of DC that I’ve previously not explored very thoroughly. Last week I got more familiar with John Constantine and now I’m getting to know Jim Corrigan. Maybe I’m to blame but they honestly sound a lot alike – having secret information of how the world really works and having to waste time with unremarkable normals who don’t believe in all that. Corrigan does feel like his time is being wasted – both as a cop and as a crusader against the forces of darkness. Sergeants Sofia Casimiro and Mark Palmer go through case after case with Corrigan. They list the facts of the case while Juan E. Ferreyra details how those cases actually went down once the Spectre showed up.
Casimiro and Palmer are like any cop or official that has mounted a charge against Batman, or like Lex Luthor’s beef with Superman – they’re sweating the small stuff and don’t see the big picture. Since we are reading Gotham by Midnight, we are rooting for Corrigan and poo poo-ing these ball-breaking pencil pushers. But like any superhero gone bad, Corrigan is disregarding them too. After all, he is the vessel for God’s Spirit of Vengeance, making him that much more important that these insignificant simpletons from IA. If what the Spectre says is to be believed, it’s not too hard to imagine that on some level Corrigan fancies himself as godly and judges the two sergeants. By this line of thought, Cosimiro and Palmer don’t understand the bigger picture, so they might as well be removed from it.
Though I might not completely by the Spectre’s claims myself, the twist ending is pretty amazing. Corrigan being in control of who the Spectre kills is the same kind of no-brainer as The Hulk saying “I’m always angry” philosophy from The Avengers. Except…this one isn’t completely stupid and actually makes a little bit of sense. Cosimiro asks poignantly why the Spectre doesn’t kill a homicidal maniac like The Joker; the real answer is because that would be no fun to read, but the larger point is that Corrigan doesn’t have a personal score with The Joker. I’m totally anticipating for Ray Fawkes to reveal that whatever killed Cosimiro and Palmer was not in fact the Spectre, but it’s still a fascinatingly frightening thought to imagine that Corrigan is subconsciously cooperating with/influencing God’s Spirit of Vengeance. When you’re talking about dark magic etc. it’s always so easy to explore the notion of “inner demons” on a literal level. I’ll be interested to see if Fawkes pushes this idea further and see exactly how the Spectre’s killings link to Corrigan psychologically.
Taylor, do you have any further thoughts on this particular revelation? I left a lot of other areas of the book relatively untouched, any things that struck you in particular?
Taylor: This is my first time reading Gotham by Midnight and at first I was a little bored. After all, who wants to see nothing but interrogation room scenes? I’ve never been much of a fan of crime procedurals (I’ve never actually watched a single episode of NYPD Blue) so maybe my boredom for the issue stems from my lack of interest in the day-to-day lives of cops. Yet while the plot was slow, and for all intents and purposes a rehashing of the comic up until this point, I actually enjoyed it.
Why, you may ask? Well, the artwork of Juan Ferreyra is just riveting. I could go on and on about how he chooses to bathe the entire issue in a serene blue light until the end when it is replaced with a bloody red, but I’ll focus on something a little less gruesome and a lot more subtle. Scene changes are a common occurrence in comics. One of the tricks creators use to signify a scene change is to have a character start saying something in one panel, and have the sentence finish on next panel. In between the camera shifts and it is understood that we are in a new place.
Ferreyra does this a couple times in this issue but at one point he uses more unique method to demonstrate a scene change. In the issue Jim and Lisa are being questioned by Internal Affairs at the same time in rooms right next to each other. Throughout the issue we cut back and forth between the two conversations. Then at one point, this happens:
Looks pretty boring, I know, but let’s look a bit closer. Previously, before this sequence the camera is in Lisa’s room. Then, as the scene switches the camera pulls out to show the doors to both rooms. There is also dialogue from both scenes happening in one panel. This is wonderful and I love it because it’s something only a comic book could do. The first panel is an establishing shot, showing us both where the camera came from and where it’s going. The genius of it is those two speech bubbles. In any other format you can’t have two people speaking at once and have it make sense – it would just be garbled. Here though, since Ferreyra knows we read left to right, he sets up the bubbles to both establish the previous and next scenes. That’s wonderful layout out design. Even though visually it’s not all that striking, I think it’s a damn impressive feat.
Ferreyra uses this technique in similar fashion later in the issue right before Jim unleashes the Spectre.
In this case, as in the one above, these events are happening simultaneously. However, to break up the action so we can read it Ferreyra uses the natural walls of the the interrogation rooms as his panel borders. This is a clever trick in and of itself, but I particularly like how the middle panel and film room isn’t just filler space. Those two cameras make me think about the temporal aspects of reading and understanding events that are happening at the same time but which I have to read one before the other. The fact that their happening at the same time seems natural to me is a testament to the layout of this particular scene. Also, those cameras signal perhaps the only way Gotham PD will figure out what the hell caused such chaos in their own building.
Even for someone who doesn’t like the ins and outs of police life, I found I ultimately enjoyed this issue. The layouts of Ferreyra are just spectacular and make this issue worth reading. However, perhaps those looking for a more plot heavy or action packed issue should look elsewhere.
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