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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comics – Day 267

Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the comics posted so far!

Today we look at the Gotham Central storyline, “Soft Targets,” by Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka, Michael Lark and Stefano Gaudiano …


I don’t want to spoil the story too much, as there are some really crazy twists as the story progresses, so I’ll just show you stuff from the first part.

The story begins here, as the Commissioner visits the Mayor (remember, Gordon was not the Commish at this point in time)…

Pretty striking opening to the story, huh?

So a sniper starts picking off public officials, and after waiting for a long time until enough emergency crews were on the scene of the second murder, the sniper strikes again…

And then the “killer” twist…the sniper is…

Yep, the Joker. This puts the Gotham cops directly into the midst of one of Joker’s more deadly schemes (all the more scary because of the sheer RANDOMNESS of the killings) and they must put aside their differences with Batman to work together to stop the madman.

Really gripping, top-rate writing by Brubaker and Rucka and oh man, the art!! Lark began the story on his own, but the great Stefano Gaudiano joined him as the story went on. The art is beautifully moody and evocative no matter whether Lark worked by himself or if Gaudiano was working with him. This is monthly comic book work at its best. Gotham Central is one of the best co-written comics pretty much ever (not counting Lee/Kirby as “co-writers”).


I missed this and the Half a Life arcs, and I really wish the trades didn’t skip issues. Grr.

See, I didn’t like this story because, once again, it represents everything that is wrong about the Joker. He isn’t interested in committing any clever or comical crimes, or killing off victims in a (from his point of view) humorous manner. No, he just goes on a bloody, violent murder spree, trying to kill as many innocent people as possible. And, at the end of the day, what happens? He gets caught and shipped back to Arkham Asylum for the 254th time. Just send the bastard the electric chair already! Or just have the cops put a bullet in his brain. I don’t care, so long as he’s dead, and not put back in a loony bin with revolving doors on the cells.

I thought that, on the whole, Gotham Central was a very good book. But I went out of my way to avoid purchasing this specific story arc.

This just reminds me how much I wish DC would put some sort of indefinite moratorium on using the Joker, until writers come up up with an interesting, original way of utilizing him in a story that doesn’t involve wholesale slaughter.

Bill, they have hardcovers out now that I think keep the issues intact.

I remember Soft Targets being among my least favorite GC arcs, but I’m planning on rereading the series soon, so we’ll see if it holds up any better the second time around. Strangely (or rather, strange from the typical fan’s perspective), I thought most of the Jim Corrigan stuff was quite good, and maybe that has a lot to do with the fact that I had not heard of the Specter at the time, and therefore all the hamhanded red herring business went over my head.

I agree with Ben Herman. But Lark’s art is gorgeous.

This arc was basically the Nolan films’ version of the Joker well before The Dark Knight started filming. As to the Joker committing “comical” crimes — he does. It’s just that his sense of humor is sick and wrong; you won’t find much Ha-Ha hysteria in his first few appearances in Batman either.

Even so, read the fine print on the computer monitor here, for example, and you’ll see there’s a supremely dark humor after all.

Beautiful art by Lark. He’s perfect for both Batman’s world and comics noir in general.

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