Gotham Central
In the Line of Duty

Authors: Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka
Artist: Michael Lark
Titan Books
RRP 8.99
ISBN 1 84023 828 3
Available 21 May 2004

Living in the shadow of the Dark Knight makes the detectives of Gotham's police force determined to prove they have what it takes to enforce the law in a city rife with criminals... with or without Batman's help...

In the Line of Duty is a graphic novel so simple in its execution that you wonder why no one thought to tackle it before. There are plenty of police patrolling Gotham City and yet their story has never been told before - not like this at any rate.

Gotham's police have always taken a back seat to the caped crusader's antics. It's almost as though they are the world's worst crime fighters. But, away from the super villains, there are other crimes, and ones which Gotham's finest can easily tackle without the help of the winged freak.

This collection features two stories: In the Line of Duty and Motive which dovetail together to form an extended story.

After his cop partner is killed by Mister Freeze, Marcus Driver (who himself had his hands badly frozen by the warped criminal) is eager to bring his friend's killer to justice - without the aid of the Batman. But, when Mr Freeze ups the stakes, with a plan to kill hundreds of innocent citizens, the police must reluctantly call for the assistance of the Batman. That is the basic outline for the two-part story entitled In the Line of Duty.

The three-parter Motive sees the death of a young girl in what looks like a bungled ransom attempt. But, as Driver digs beneath the surface, there is much more to her death than meets the eye. Meanwhile Firebug (who I always thought was called Firefly until now) is causing havoc on the streets of Gotham as he sets about another string of arson attacks.

Both of these stories are well executed and the artwork is incredibly impressive. But, what really makes this a must own collection is the fact that it puts a new, and interesting spin on the Batman series.

Refreshingly original.

Nick Smithson

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