The supernatural takes true control as the Spectre engages in titanic combat with the souls of a village destroyed by the founders of Gotham City. Gotham by Midnight #5 switches gears, allowing the foreboding tone of previous issues to develop into full-fledged supernatural chaos.
The issue opens with the Spectre wrestling with the monster from the previous issue. The being wants the Spectre to turn his gaze to Gotham, the see the amount of the sin that holds the city in its grasp, and to burn it all away. The being, called Ikkondrid, pleads with the Spectre. Ikkondrid is not some emissary from the unnatural order, but the ghosts of those betrayed and slaughtered by Gotham City’s founders, a village of people who were brutalized and cast out from their native home. It’s a plea that the Spectre is willing to contemplate. But as this fight takes place, Corrigan’s team moves in to try to prevent the worst.
Dr. Tarr and Detective Drake are the first to arrive on the scene. They try to stop the Spectre’s energy from emerging from Corrigan’s body, to no avail. Lt. Weaver and Sister Justine arrive next, with two different approaches. Weaver draws his gun and prepares to shoot Corrigan in an attempt to stop the Spectre, while Sister Justine looks to the skies and prays for an angel to assist. But Gotham has no angels, only a Dark Knight. And as Batman approaches, Ikkondrid plays another card, spreading flower like spores of destruction throughout the city. And as the Spectre begins to turn his gaze towards Gotham, Corrigan’s team runs out of answers, as only the noblest of acts can possibly wash out the sins of Gotham City.
One of the primary concerns towards the end of last issue was how Batman would interact with the series. The Caped Crusader is synonymous with Gotham City, and so it only makes sense that Gotham by Midnight would see a visit by the Dark Knight at some point. What Fawkes does in Gotham by Midnight #5 is brilliant. With the city in disarray and not one, but two giant beings battling it out, Batman is quick to arrive on the scene, and quick to be rendered useless. It becomes clear that even Batman is out of his league here and that brings more focus to Corrigan’s team, rather than robbing them of the attention in their own book. And the panel of Sister Justine praying as Batman emerges from the wreckage of the Batplane is a beautiful example of words and images working together to tell a story.
Ben Templesmith’s art is superb. With the fate of Gotham City in the balance, the protagonists are notably distraught, and Templesmith is able to convey the variable degrees of emotion to allow the book to build to a proper climax. The linework of the series has always had a rougher quality to it and that really contributes to the feel of the book, as if the comic itself might come crumbling down if the characters don’t hold it together. The washes used add to the atmospheric feel. Batman is almost consistently lit well, as if he were the last light Gotham had, and so when he comes crashing down the last true light of the book comes with it.
There isn’t really anything that can be taken away from Gotham by Midnight #5. This is an excellent issue, and a great close to the first arc in the series.
Gotham by Midnight #5 further solidifies the series as one of the best in DC’s lineup. Fawkes and Templesmith have an excellent chemistry on page, and the issue is executed brilliantly. When Batman can guest star in an issue and not cast his shadow over the main cast members, that’s the sign that the series has found its true footing.