Gotham Central
The Quick and the Dead

Author: Greg Rucka
Artists: Michael Lark and Stefano Gaudiano
Titan Books
RRP: 9.99, US $14.99
ISBN: 978 1 8457 6381 7
Available 26 January 2007

A brutal gang war rages in Gotham City. After a tragic mistake, the police feel that they can no longer trust Batman, so Commissioner Akins makes a fateful decision - the Dark Knight is now a wanted man, and the famous Bat-Signal is removed from the roof of police headquarters. But it couldn't have come at a worse time, as the Major Crimes Unit must face a super-villain they've never dealt with before, and a good cop's life hangs in the balance...

The Quick and the Dead is the latest in the Gotham Central series - which follows the lives of the police officers of Gotham City Police Department as they go about fighting crimes that are below the radar of the Batman.

In this collection it is decided, by the commissioner in charge of Health and Welfare, that the Bat Symbol should be taken down and destroyed - sending a message to all of Gotham's citizens that the police and Batman are no longer working together. This is done over the Major's head - a fact the Major is not overly happy about.

But some believe that this also sends a message to Gotham's underworld that it's open season in the city. And this would appear to be the case, as a new costumed villain appears on the scene.

As the events of the gang war take their toll on detectives Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen, the two partners set in motion events that will change their lives forever. To keep Gotham safe without Batman's help, Allen and Montoya make some very powerful enemies... and face some hard truths about their darkest secrets.

Allen and Montoya also find themselves leaving Gotham in order to question Doctor Desmond Alchemy, a criminally insane scientist whose secret lab has recently been discovered by a couple of boys. While attempting to help the boys escape from this makeshift laboratory, a police officer is engulfed in strange flames that don't burn, but start to transform him. Doctor Alchemy is the only one who can help this unfortunate soul.

The introduction of Doctor Alchemy was probably the low point of this collection, for me. His opening scene is handled like a very bad homage to The Silence of the Lambs and I couldn't understand why such an intelligent man would stoop to such pathetic name calling when he arrives in Gotham.

Other than that slight niggle this will make a worthy addition to any comic fans collection.

Pete Boomer

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