Batman: City of Crime

Writer: David Lapham

Penciller: Ramon Backs

Inker: Nathan Massengill

Distributed By: DC Comics

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

                I've read so many Batman story arcs, but there are so many more Batman tales I have yet to read.  I decided to tackle one of those story arcs recently by reading Batman: City of Crime, a trade paperback compiling Detective Comics Issues 800-808, 811 and 814.

                Bruce Wayne (AKA: Batman) is feeling guilty.  Instead of setting a teenage socialite on the right path by offering her a dose of reality, his truthful but harsh words have the exactly opposite effect, propelling her towards disaster.  Then, Batman and Robin help the local fire department rescue dozens of people trapped in a burning building.  But Batman is unable to rescue six pregnant young women intentionally locked in an apartment bedroom.  His guilt over not being able to rescue these women inspires him to take on a new, desperate case, searching for the whereabouts of a distraught mother's missing pregnant teenage daughter.

                Bruce Wayne's belief that the pregnant teenager's disappearance is related to the deaths of the pregnant woman in the building fire, finds him following the illegal baby adoption ring leads straight into the path of some of Gotham's worst criminals.  As the story moves forward, the Caped Crusader finds himself crossing paths with the Penguin, Mr. Freeze and The Ventriloquist, who have all joined forces with a new and terrifying evil that has made its home in the Gotham Waterfront Reclamation Project.  This new evil can create an army from sand and sow dread and despair through the air...sort of a cross between Clayface and Scarecrow.

                Believing that finding Cassie Welles will ease some of his guilt over those he couldn’t save, Batman forges forward, going undercover and facing his fears while battling what seems to be a never ending army in grim determination to uncover the truth about Cassie and return her to her loving mother.  But what Batman discovers may be even more chilling than what he has been through while facing down the new enemy known as The Body.

                I've read quite a few Batman graphic novels, but, in my opinion, Batman: City of Crime is the best of the bunch.  This is one of the darkest Batman story arcs I have read to date.  The storyline was terrific and I loved the way David Lapham compares the city of Gotham to a demented, evil woman in need of healing, both physically and psychologically.  City of Crime, originally published in 2005 and 2006, marked Lapham's DC Comics debut and what a debut it was.  I loved that the more Batman delved into the case, the more questions seemed to be raised rather than answered.  I also enjoyed the fact that so many old favorites made an appearance in this arc (now retired Commissioner Gordon, Slim, Tiny, Penguin, Mr. Freeze and the Ventriloquist) and yet the story never loses its focus.  The artwork of City of Crime is as dark as the storyline.  Except for the scenes of fiery destruction, the colors that are present are subdued, taken over by the darkness of the atmosphere of the story.  

                At 287 pages, Batman: City of Darkness is a rather daunting looking read and yet, once I started, I couldn't seem to put it down.  Despite the fact that it was way past my bedtime, I found myself wanting to read just a few pages more...a few more...until I came to the shocking conclusion...and then realized the shocking truth - I still had to go to work the next morning!  Batman: City of Darkness is a graphic novel well worth the $20.00US price tag.  It makes a terrific addition to any Batman fans' collection.


For more about Batman, check out these links:

Where Were You On The Night Batman Was Killed: Batman Issues 291-294
Batman in the Sixties
Batman in the Seventies
Batman: Bruce Wayne: Fugitive
Batman: Knightfall
Batman: Hush
The Music of Batman
Batman: Gotham Knight
Batman: The Killing Joke
Batman Beyond: Return of Joker (Original Uncut Version)
The Dark Knight
Batman: The Brave and the Bold: Mayhem of the Music Meister!
Batman: The Long Halloween
LEGO Batman: The Video Game
Enemies & Allies

Batman: Noel

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