Gotham Central
Unresolved Targets

Author: Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka
Artists: Michael Lark and Stefano Gaudiano
Titan Books
RRP 9.99
ISBN 1 84576 130 8
Available 26 May 2006

The Joker terrorises the city at Christmastime when he begins randomly executing people with a rifle, and no one from the Major on down is safe. The manhunt is on as the police try to protect the city, only to be baffled when the Clown Prince of crime surrenders. What does he really want, and can the GCPD figure it out before he gets it? A second story focuses on an old case - unfinished business for disgruntled detective Harvey Bullock. When fresh leads surface, Bullock wants to get back in the game, but his help is not wanted, especially with the Mad Hatter involved...

Unresolved Targets is the latest Gotham Central graphic novel that show that the police in Batman's city don't sit around eating donuts while the Dark Knight rounds up all the criminals. When the Major is assassinated in his own office by a sniper, Gotham City is hurled into a nightmare of panic and fear - all the more so when the killer turns out to be the Joker. And when Detective Marcus Driver investigates one of hte cold cases of disgraced cop Harvey Bullock, he uncovers a lot more than he bargained for.

Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka weave an interesting couple of tales around Gotham's finest without relying on the Batman to push sales through the roof. While he does make an appearance or two, his interaction in the stories are so low key as to be none existant - which is exactly how it should be.

There are a few familiar characters along for the ride including the Joker, and it was good to see Bullock dragged out of retirement. But the main villain in this collection is the Mad Hatter - who the officers think may be behind a very old mass murder, one that Bullock was in charge of.

This is quite a serious collection, but there are brief moments of hilarity - including Gotham's police interrogating the rather odd clowns. It's not the dialogue that's amusing here though, but the absurd illustrations with clowns in interrogation rooms.

The great thing about this collection is that they are not just Gotham Central / Batman tales - they are also a damn fine murder mysteries in their own right. The fact that both tales are set in Gotham is just a bonus.

Nick Smithson

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