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Gotham City: Year One #3
DC Comics

Comic Books

‘Gotham City: Year One’ #3 embraces the pulp of the noir genre

Gotham City: Year One continues to be a well-written and beautifully drawn story.

Detective Slam Bradley has become intertwined in a mystery surrounding Constance and Richard Wayne and the kidnapping of their daughter Helen. Dark truths just below the surface of America’s safest city are exposed as the noir thriller continues its strong form in Gotham City: Year One #3.

After the initial disappearance of Helen Wayne and the death of Slam’s partner Johnny Boy in issue #1, issue #2 presented Slam, and the Waynes, with the possibility of seeing Helen returned. As this is a six-issue series, it was easy to guess that the plan wouldn’t work out.

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Issue #3 starts with Slam returning Richard Wayne to his home after knocking him unconscious in the graveyard the issue before. Instead of the police arriving to take Slam in the next day, Constance shows up in the typical femme-fatale form to the smoky private investigator’s office to strike up a new deal.

Gotham City: Year One #3

DC Comics

Slam has been used as someone’s pawn in a larger game since the start of the series. Issue #3 finally puts Slam in the driver’s seat and lets him loose to do some real detective work, and the story only improves because of it. We see Slam in full form as he investigates who the cat-like Sue is and her role in the grand scheme of things.

The issue is very much a character-building issue for Slam, who has been pretty stoic throughout the story. Issue #3 gives him more agency in the mystery around Gotham and some much-welcomed backstory. We get to see a little bit of the young Slam, who Loder alluded to in issue #1. Seeing this new and uncharacteristically aggressive side of the detective is an exciting development, especially with how it complicates things in the issue’s final scene. It becomes clear to the reader our hero is not incapable of making mistakes.

Writer Tom King is at home in the mysterious and fast-tongued world of 1960s Gotham. Like many of King’s works, the dialogue is plentiful, but it’s punchy, fun, and fast. We also get more of Constance, who showcases a different angle to the “harpy” Richard described her as in issue #2. The rest of the cast feels ripped out of something like The Maltese Falcon, and the mystery connecting them all unfolds in interesting new directions.

Gotham City: Year One #3

DC Comics

The entire art team is firing on all cylinders. Penciler Phil Hester is a master at using negative space and bringing the style of hardboiled detective stories to the panels. While the colors have been strong throughout the run, the heavy red, white, and black contrast in the opening and closing of issue #3 show what a powerhouse Jordie Bellaire is. Plus, no good noir story is complete without heavy shadows, and we have inker Eric Gapstur to thank for bringing the darkness to life in Gotham City: Year One.

If there is one complaint to find, it would be that a few of the supporting cast members seem to blend. Between the dialogue, which is fast and full of noir-style sharp lines, and the heavy shadowed art, sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish who is who. As the series continues, I hope more of the support characters will have their moments to shine.

Gotham City: Year One is a testament to the fun you can have inside the world of Batman without featuring the pointy-eared vigilante. King has said the story is adding something grand to the city’s mythos, and I am eager to find out what it is. While we get to see some shocking reveal as to what happens in the case of the missing Helen Wayne, the larger story is about how the crime-free Gotham of the 1960s becomes the crime-infested birthplace of the Bat.

Gotham City: Year One #3 continues to be a well-written and beautifully drawn story that embraces the pulp of the noir genre. Bringing in some interesting character developments and backstory, with an end reveal that propels the story in an exciting new direction, issue #3 might be the best one yet.

'Gotham City: Year One' #3 embraces the pulp of the noir genre
‘Gotham City: Year One’ #3 embraces the pulp of the noir genre
Gotham City: Year One #3
Gotham City: Year One #3 continues to be a well-written and beautifully drawn story that embraces the pulp of the noir genre. Bringing in some interesting character developments and backstory, with an end reveal that propels the story in an exciting new direction, issue #3 might be the best one yet.
Fun and fast noir style dialogue.
Strong artwork which brings 1960s Gotham to life.
Interesting backstory reveals.
Some characters, while enjoyable, can blend together.
9
Great

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