Jim Gordon shines a light on the corrupt GCPD as Detective Comics explores Zero-Year!
Writer John Layman shows us what young Lt. James Gordon was up to during the events of “Zero Year,” which you can read in the Batman book! This issue focuses on Gordon and his attempts to clean up the city. With the power completely knocked out in Gotham, criminals and violent gangs are taking over the city and stretching the police force thin. To make matters worse, Gordon isn’t getting any help from his fellow officers as they intentionally slow down any investigations into serious crimes. Layman writes Gordon well: he’s practical, logical, smart, and with a little bit of that dry wit and sarcasm we’ve come to expect from Gordon. He knows how to write Jim Gordon’s personality well. It’s a nice change of pace for Detective Comics to star Jim Gordon, and honestly, it was refreshing. With Batman appearing in several books, Detective Comics could be even better if it focused more on Jim Gordon’s story in the future, similar to the “Black Mirror” storyline or even like the book Gotham Central from years ago. And if this single issue is any indication, John Layman is the man for the job. He shows us how Gordon sticks to his moral code and that he’s not afraid to bend the rules a bit in order to do his job: protect Gotham. Gordon isn’t some goody-goody boy scout—he’s a flawed man trying to do his best in a city of corruption. And that’s exactly why we love Jim Gordon.
Detective Comics #25 also had some nice surprises to add to Batman’s mythology. Detective Harvey Bullock, looking much younger and so dapper, makes a cool cameo. We learn the idea behind the Bat-signal and how it came into use. And artist Jason Fabok pays homage to the first cover with Batman (way back in 1939’s Detective Comics #27). Speaking of Fabok, that brings me to my next point. The man is amazing. His art keeps getting better and better. Fabok’s art is crisp and clear while still retaining the dark, ominous atmosphere that perpetually hangs over Gotham. There is no one that draws Gotham quite like how he does. Jason Fabok is, for lack of a better word, bad-ass. The homage mentioned earlier is a beautiful splash page that makes readers pause, eyes wide, and unconsciously say out loud, “Wow.” It’s great.
This issue isn’t quite perfect though. For one, John Layman’s story structure is getting very familiar. Detective Comics #25, like a few other issues before it, begins with some big action happening in the first two or three pages before jumping back in time and showing the reader what led to that moment. It’s a neat way to hook people into a story right at the beginning, but only when used sparingly. If almost every issue begins the same way it starts to lose that hook and gets tiresome. Secondly, readers are introduced to Roman Sionis as Jim Gordon investigates the Black Mask gang. However, we never really learn what Sionis is doing or why he’s doing these things. All we’re told is that he’s the CEO of a major cosmetic corporation and oh yeah he is also a crime boss for some reason. Why? Well hopefully those answers will be revealed in future issues of Detective Comics.
The third thing that stuck out to me about this issue involved Gordon falling off a bridge. (SPOILERS ahead so reader beware! I’ll let you know when it’s safe again.) After being thrown off a bridge by some unsavory policemen, Gordon not only survives the fall but walks away from it completely unharmed. He spends some time in the issue wondering how he managed to survive a fall that would normally kill someone, but he’s never quite sure what happened. It’s not until the end of the issue that Gordon realizes he had help from some Dark Knight out there. Here’s my problem with this: wouldn’t Gordon feel someone rescue him at the last second before he hit the water? He should have known right then and there that he had help, right? And when we first see Gordon survive that fall, we see him walk out of the water. If Batman saved him in time, why didn’t Batman take Gordon to land? Did Batman briefly save Gordon from hitting the water, only to drop him back in it and make him swim to shore? (Okay, the SPOILERS are over now. Continue!)
The verdict: 4/5
Overall this is a great one-shot story starring James Gordon and it fits in nicely with Zero Year. John Layman’s take on the future police commissioner and the corrupt GCPD was nicely done and it felt like a classic, old school, Jim Gordon storyline. Jason Fabok’s art is top-notch as always and the splash pages are wonderful. There are some very minor issues that stuck out to me, but nothing serious enough to really take away from the story and overall book. It’s a great, self-contained story and a treat for your eyeballs at that!