Story: Ray Fawkes
Art: Christian Duce
What They Say:
Get set for a tale of love and vengeance in this centuries-old mystery for the Midnight Shift—and the Gentleman Ghost!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
With Gotham by Midnight being pretty much one of my top contenders for best series of the year, I was pretty keen on a standalone annual, even if I generally loathe annuals and the way they tend to not have much meaning. What helped soothe that problem for me with this one is that the main series writer, Ray Fawkes, was tackling this one, though with Christian Duce on the art chores. The double length book works well to tell a larger yet more personal story in a way and I could easily see how Fawkes might have used this within the confines of the ongoing series, albeit as a shorter storyline spread with some additional subplots with the other characters to keep it going. By bringing it out to this form, it’s distilled down to its core story and that works well enough.
The focus this time around is on that of the Gentleman Ghost, Jim Craddock. Craddock has long been a staple of the DC Comics universe and has been utilized in all sorts of ways, even as he feels increasingly out of place as the decades wear on. Within the context of Gotham by Midnight, he works perfectly though as he’s just outside of the city working his charms on a woman named Eleanor in order to acquire a necklace that had recently come into the family’s hands. With his ability to woo people and then to steal what he wants since he can walk through objects, it’s an easy gig that’s only made problematic by the fact that he only appears when the moon is out. That limits him but it also keeps him from being a longer and more constant problem in the way. For Corrigan, who works this story with Drake, he’s all about getting rid of another ghost in the city. Not that Craddock really feels like a ghost.
The book works through the back and forth of the cat and mouse game of trying to catch him while he deals with the necklace itself, all while wrapping it up in a bit of gentlemanly atmosphere with the way he talks and interacts with both Corrigan and Drake. The thieving is a minor part overall and a decent chunk of the book explores Craddock’s origins, which ties into the necklace of course, and you can find him sympathetic. Even before she falls sway to his charms, Drake can see that he’s not exactly the kind of usual spirit or supernatural entity that they deal with. Corrigan’s the one that’s intent, based on his own experiences and lengthy knowledge of Craddock, but also because of the driving force of the Specter within him. It makes for a good story overall, though one that’s light on something that feels truly substantial.
Gotham by Midnight does fall to some of the usual aspects of what makes an annual what it is, which is a standalone story with minimal to no real impact on the ongoing series. It’s at least not part of some overall event, though sometimes those can work well. What we get from Fawkes and Duce is a solid tale dealing with the Gentleman Ghost and his latest pursuit, which has Corrigan intent on eliminating him once and for all. The book works the dialogue well between the core trio here as they go back and forth with each other and Duce provides a very good look to the book overall, fitting in with the tone and style established within the main series while also not mimicking it and losing his own. It’s a solid standalone piece that adds lightly to the overall mythology that Fawkes is putting together here and is certainly a welcome additional overall.
Age Rating: 16+
Released By: DC Comics via ComiXology
Release Date: July 29th, 2015