“Slow tolls the village clock the drowsy hour.” – James Beattie
The clock has struck midnight, and Batman’s time in this twelve issue nocturnal acid trip has come to a close. What a trip it’s been, with a unique, semi-twisted showcase of all things after dark for Gotham city and Batman. Beginning with a few simple murders, it ballooned into a mind-bending mystery for Bruce Wayne, so enthralled with the situation at hand that he didn’t seem to bother removing his mask for much but a simple date. Gotham After Midnight held its’ cowl firmly in place for the duration of its’ run, and has solidly taken a bow.
Without drawing itself out and repeating too much of a good thing, the entire series has pieced together a solid puzzle, a well paced, classically sketched mystery viewed through a tilted kaleidoscope. That is not to say that anything about it is unfamiliar. Infact, possibly to it’s’ discredit, this series may have been a little too predictable as far as Batman is concerned. With Commissioner Gordon’s constantly all too familiar pipe-puffing anecdotes and nothing new to report as far as re-inventions or re-imaginings of Batman’s supporting cast (except maybe for Killer Croc and Clayface), things certainly can read as if you have read them before. Batman is still Batman. Interestingly, however, instead of trying to depict the dual life, we’ve been shown “the man behind the mask” almost solely while he is wearing that mask. A whirlwind of problems caused by an unknown villain all coming at once as Batman legitimately falls in love certainly doesn’t sound like much that hasn’t been done before, but instead of seeing the effects on both sides of the identity, it bleeds heavily only on one, making the other almost as irrelevant as Bruce (or Batman, more appropriately) himself sees it.
The books biggest strength has been its’ fresh yet nostalgic re-imagining. I mentioned several times in other reviews while this was ongoing that I couldn’t help but play the NES Batman theme in my head while reading this book. All the while its’ dark, semi-gothic and well in its’ own right a very enjoyable outing. A graphic novel here with many issues having holiday themes make it a great series to pick up once in a while, give a read through, and leave lying around until it itches you to the point that you need to have another look to see just what it is that’s bugging you that you may have missed.
It’s no real surprise to me after reading the first issue and finishing with the twelfth my own personal musings of life, death, and the humor and hardship they both consist of have constantly been in the back of my head while reading. It’s not a ground-shaking experience, but the uniqueness of the presentation as a whole from look to subject matter and its’ itching of these good and bad emotions is too tight to ignore. Steve Niles, Kelley Jones, and all involved in production are on the very same page, working wonderfully in the books favor.
I can’t help but wonder if this series as a whole was a wink in Bruce’s hallucinating eye during his recent final stand while gliding through Batman RIP. Whether or not one chooses to think of Gotham After Midnight that way, however, is irrelevant, because it stands solidly for now on its’ own two feet.
4.5 out of 5.
Writer – Steve Niles
Artist – Kelley Jones
Colorist – Michelle Madsen
Letterer – Pat Brosseau