Time for some filler
During the long dark tea time between Batman RIP and the actual beginning of Battle for the Cowl, Batman fans are looking everywhere to get their Bat-Fix, and DC delivers this week with Gotham Gazette #1. Itâ€™s not really a newspaper, and the menagerie of stories inside really donâ€™t fit a newspaper format, but it does fill that void since the last appearance of Batman.
Those that followed the Bat Family of titles before they were closed or, in the case of theÂ Outsiders, rebooted, should have a fairly good understanding of who all the ancillary characters were and how they relate to one another.Â Gotham Gazette features four short stories that features a whoâ€™s who of supporting cast members that includes Vicki Vale, Stephanie Brown, Harvey Bullock, Leslie Thompkins, Jamie Harper, and that Dark Horse Ghost rip-off Millicent Mane, who serves as the narrator of the issue.
The stories feels under developed.Â Â With Batman gone, the citizens of Gotham City are in the grip of fear wondering who will protect their fair city.Â It doesnâ€™t help matters the Vicki Vale (returning to the Gotham Gazette after a period of absence) lands a front page story pronouncing Batman dead.Â Like the reader, Vicki doesnâ€™t believe Batman is dead and goes so far as to tell her editor that she expects to see Batman show up in six months or so. Unlike the reader, Vicki tries desperately to get ahold of Bruce Wayne to reassure herself that heâ€™s not really dead, while behind the scenes Alfred (or Nightwing) cook up an elaborate scheme to trick Vale into thinking Bruce is play coy, thus giving her some hope that all will be well.
The idea of holding on to hope is one that several of the key characters in Gotham seem to want to hold on to, but with each passing day, the hoodlums and bad guys of Gotham get a bit more daring as they stage more elaborate holdups.Â Leslie Thompson, returning from Africa, plans to set up shop once again, despite what Bruce/Batman told her the last time the two met face to face.Â It seems as though she knows something bad has happened, and thus with Bruce gone, sheâ€™s able to resume the life she left behind. Unfortunately, her return coincides with a massive prison breakout and sheâ€™s forced to decide whether she should honor her doctorly duties, or do everything she can to bring an escaped convict down.
Being unsure as to what to do next is not only something that has the average citizen pondering, but it also seems to be holding Stephanie Brown back from donning the Spoiler mask and going out to help do what is right.Â Sheâ€™s torn between honoring the man she loves, or tossing that all down the toilet so she can scratch that itch.Â Of the four stories presented in the issue, my favorite is Stephanieâ€™s.Â It good to see her post-Robin where sheâ€™s struggling to do what sheâ€™s been told, but readers are able to see that tug and allure of crime fighting pulling at her leg and taunting her to jump back into action.Â I donâ€™t know what Stephanieâ€™s fate will be following Gotham Gazette #2, but I do hope she is a character that is able to stick around a while longer before the next writer decides to off her again.
The most frustrating story in the issue is the murder mystery involving Harvey Bullock and his new partner Jamie Harper as they try to solve what looks to be a rogueâ€™s gallery assassination. While Harper tries to follow procedure, sheâ€™s constantly blocked by Harvey, who is back to his usual Harvey things. What makes this story most frustrating is reader still donâ€™t know how Harvey was able to get back on the GCPD following Officer Down storyline from a couple of years ago.Â At the same time, readers havenâ€™t really been treated to any major Harvey appearances, save for the occasional cameo or one-liner.Â Knowing Bullock canâ€™t make a single mistake or heâ€™s off the force again, it is interesting to see how he really proceeds through his investigation with a â€œdonâ€™t give a crapâ€ attitude.Â I do like the interplay between Harvey and Jamie, and if DC ever wanted to bring back GCPD, I would love to see these two as the leads in the series.
Iâ€™m still not a big fan of Millicent Mane, and thereâ€™s no clear indication what her role is in Gotham City.Â Is she a hero, a villain, or simply a watcher and narrator of tales?Â Â The character just doesnâ€™t seem to fit, and seems forced into the DC universe like a child forced to go to a school dance for the first time.
For the most part, Gotham Gazette #1 isnâ€™t a bad issue, if it were an ongoing mini-series, it might actually do really well, much like the Gotham Nights series from many years ago that told tales of those not directly connected to the Batman.Â Perhaps that is the point?Â Maybe this is the Batman anthology that has been hinted at recent conventions.Â This one-shot doesnâ€™t feel important in the great scheme of things, so it will be interesting to see how Battle for the Cowl and this issue tie into one another.Â The issue stands on its own legs, so for now Gotham Gazette #1 earns 3 out of 5 Stars.