In the end, there is one comic head and shoulders above the rest for one good reason. For the twenty or so years, Law and Order has graced television screens, with spinoffs and imitators galore. Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker’s Gotham Central is the grittiest Law and Order series of them all, and it has Batman in it.
Gotham Central is split into shifts, Rucka writes the day shift and Brubaker the night shift. (Obviously.) Gotham is a busy urban police department with the usual troubles, crime bosses, internal corruption and personality clashes.
For the most part, from their perspective, Batman makes things harder. When he breaks a case, or captures a criminal, he makes everyone in the department feel insecure. Worst of all, he brings all the freaks and madmen to town.
You never know in Gotham Central when that routine call is going to accidentally put you in the middle of an insane criminal’s lair, or who is up to what plot. And nearly everyone in Gotham Central is sick of it.
Gotham Central features both great arcs and crackling character beats. From loyal curmudgeon Crispus Allen, to the legendary Batman villain that decides to become a sniper. The treachery of Jim Corrigan (and the tease of the superhero he’s named after) to Commissioner Akin’s war on Batman. A homage to Silence of the Lambs, and a murder by corrupt cops that goes very, very badly. And a miserable, failed Harvey Bullock who can’t forget that one last case.
But in the end, Gotham Central is most famous for the story of Renee Montoya, an intense violent Detective hiding her gay lover from everyone in her life, and the Batman villain that doesn’t like it one bit.
Gotham Central, like everything else I champion was a flop as a comic, mostly, I think, because it is paced like a television show. Hint, hint. Television loves cop shows.