|GOTHAM BY MIDNIGHT No. 3, March 2015|
It is not entirely clear which is the more frightening aspect of “Gotham By Midnight”. This issue's spine-tinglingly good narrative of a soul-sucking shadow creature skulking the dimly-lit corridors of Gotham County Hospital feasting upon whoever it can find, or the fact that according to Diamond Comic Distributors, the book dropped in sales by over six thousand copies to an unsettling 21,300 magazines in January 2015.
Whatever the reason for this disappointing decline in popularity, possibly connected to the news of artist Ben Templesmith’s imminent departure from the periodical, many readers have missed Ray Fawkes pen a superbly sinister and claustrophobic tale which not only offers plenty of modern-day thrills and scares. But also delivers a somewhat engaging backstory as to how Detective Drake and the human host of The Spectre, Jim Corrigan, first encountered one another during an undercover narcotics operation.
In addition the “Batman Eternal” writer also provides forensic specialist Doctor Tarr with some most welcome ‘screen time’ as Szandor steps away from translating endless hours of “gibberish” within Midnight Shift’s precinct house and physically comes face to face with “tall, dark and gruesome.” Indeed the bespectacled expert’s confrontation and subsequent conversation with the “autonomous human shadow with an articulated heart” in ‘Hungarian’ is probably the highlight of “We Become What We Fight”. Certainly it allows for Corrigan to demonstrate his usual dry-wit during a high-pressure situation and stalls the demonic creature long enough for Lisa Drake to destroy the monster with the light from her hand-torch.
Marginally less satisfying, perhaps simply because it concerns a more mundane or rather predominantly ‘non-supernatural’ storyline, are the six pages depicting Jim’s recruitment of the young female cop after she rescues him from the boot of a drug dealer’s car.
Both stories are wonderfully illustrated by the quirky cartoon-like pencils of Templesmith. Although for once the Australian’s panels portraying the flashback scenes aren’t obvious enough not to require repeated re-readings just to ascertain what is happening during the “Skull Dust” bust. Albeit a lot of the difficulty in discerning the Eagle Award winner’s drawings is due more to the predominantly grayscale pages being overly inked and therefore unfathomably dark, than any inability on behalf of the artist to adequately visualise events.