Monday, 18 July 2016

Gotham By Midnight Book 2: Rest In Peace (#6-12, Annual #1)

"The city is sick and cannot be cured" - The Spectre

This is the second and final volume of Gotham by Midnight which collects the remaining issues, plus a stand alone annual and the Convergence Sneak peak which reintroduced the concept into the new DCU.  The series was about a department of the Gotham PD, called "The Midnight Shift".  It was run by Lieutenant Weaver, with Sergeants Lisa Drake (a banshee) and Jim Corrigan (the human vessel for The Spectre) serving under him and working alongside them, deputies Doctor Szandor Tarr, the forensic specialist and the nun Sister Justine who was more spiritually inclined.  In the first book which was illustrated by the amazing Ben Templesmith, the spirit of the Native Tribe who the orginal Gothamites killed when starting up their town called Ikkondrid tried to use the Spectre to judge the city himself.  But Justine sacrificed herself and saved everyone at the cost of her life.  Ikkondrid has stopped being a threat for now, but there is still the mystery of the black flowers that appear at sites of supernatural occurences, and the threat to the Midnight Shift of being closed down as they have Internal Affairs led by a Sergeant Rook looking into their methods and results.  Due to events going on the the Batman comic at the time, Commisioner Gordon is running around in armour pretending to be Batman who has lost his memory and therefore is no longer there to protect The Midnight Shift as he has been over the past few years.  Art duties are now by Juan Ferreyra, the writer is still Ray Fawkes.

The Sneak Peak just shows Commissioner Batman ordering them to deal with a supernatural threat.  The real story begins at Sister Jutine's funeral. They are all attending on a gloomy, rainy day.  Corrigan says he hates funerals, he'd rather be "raising a glass to Sister Justine.  That's a ceremony".
Sister Justine's funeral.
Weaver says not now, they have a case, there is something in the design labs of the "Powers Corporation Central Gotham Office."  Drakes surprised someone has called them, usually they go out and find stuff.  Before they leave, Drake wants to know about Corrigan's link to the Spectre.

Corrigan: "The Spectre is what he says he is, Okay? Divine judgement.  Destroyer of sinners.  Remember the story of Sodom and Gommorrah?  That was almost Gotham City last friday".

He says he has no control over him, he just tries to find out what will set him off and fix it before he appears.  They tell him he's carrying a "nuke" and should leave town. Corrigan says he's tried, he just gets bought back to where The Spectre wants him.

Weaver says he know about The Spectre, but Drake has a power as well, her scream.  Corrigan says she is a "Bain Sidhe", the harbinger of death.  When she screams it means someone will die.  He asks if they are all going to freak out and go their seperate ways or can they get back to work?  Weaver wants to know where Szandor is first.
Szandor is upset with God.
He is in the church cursing God as he looks at Christ on the Cross.  He says it was in his name the city was first formed, his name that unleashed The Spectre and his name on Justine lips when she died.

Szandor: "Are you powerless to stop this mayhem?  Or do you tolerate it?  Do you enjoy it?  If you exist... if you even exist at all."

At the Powers Corporation, Corrigan and Drake are being shown round by a Mr. Jenner.  He says they are about to launch a product called the "Powerwatch" that will allow you to link everything up to the internet.

The problem is a ghost that appeared on Saturday and starting haunting the labs.  One of his team leaders was found with a piece of human heart in his throat whichhe was choking on.  It's appeared every night since.  They ask Mr. Jenner if there have been any deaths there recently and Jenner reluctantly admits there was.
The Powers Corp ghost.
At the Midnight Shift Precinct Weaver and Szandor are talking about the lawyer Weaver is bringing in to defend them against the Internal Affairs case.  Szandor is disinterested, and more concerned with examining the black flower which he says has a rudimentary nervous system.  Weaver leaves him saying he thinks Szandor's "mad scientist" bit is all and act.

Back at Power Corp, they are shown a desk where an employee called George died of a stroke. It makes Corrigan's hand glo with Spectre power so something fishy has gone on here.  Drake pokes around and her investigations are alternated with Szandor cutting the tip of a black flower off and it growing back.  She eventually finds a baggie with a mystery powder and her narc sense goes off.

Then the clock starts bleeding and George appears, saying "WE NEED ALL HANDS".  While Corrigan holds The Spectre back, Jenner admits it was the last thing he said to George, who was exhausted from overwork.  He gave George some speed which killed him and he doctored the records so he wouldn't have to pay out to George's family. 
George the Ghost gets his way.
This confession mollifies George's ghost and he lets go of Jenner and departs.  Corrigan and Drake tell Jenner to make insurance payments to George's family or George will be back. Jenner then offers them both jobs as consultants and Corrigan threatens to arrest him.

They leave and in the car they discuss how the Power Corp knew about them.  Corrigan says they are dangerous and word getting out about them could be a problem.  Meanwhile back at Precinct 13, he lawyer Weaver hired - Kate Spencer - says I.A. are building a huge case against them, "someone high up has it in for you".  It could be the police, may be a supervillain, at this point they just don't know.

We get a flashback to Weaver's past as a child where he found his father dead from a self inflicted gunshot wound.  Then we come back to the present, Kate is telling him he should have called her three months ago, "they're hot to shut you down" she says.  Weaver says Gordon always protected them before.  Then Drake comes in saying they have a case.  Five dead at least in the East End.
Drake and Szandor on a new case.
We jump forwards to Drake and Szandor examining the bodies which haven't been moved.  They show no sign of struggle, there is a thing attached to the backs of their head that is growing down through the floor, "this creature is not alive, but it's got a spirit aura" says Szandor.  It's like the victims just stopped what they were doing and lay down and died.

Corrigan is in Sister Justine quarters.  He is experiencing tremendous guilt over her death and sits sadly on her bed and begs "God.. aw God.. have mercy on me please."

Weaver and Kate are talking.  She says he's not the Weaver she knew from five years ago, "everything would be prepared.  We'd be talking about plans of attack".  She asks what exactly is it they do.  They have zero arrests.  Cases are quietly closed.  They have funding but shady expense reports.  Are they just a place for Gordon to bury tough cases?

Weaver: "We're fighting monsters Kate.  We can't arrest them because they aren't human.  We're fighting things that don't make any sense.  Time and again, before they can destroy the whole frickin' city".
We then get a flashback to two years ago. A subdued and traumatised Weaver is in a meeting with Commissoner Gordon who believes that Weaver encountered a monster.  So he is assigning him to Precinct 13.
Gordon gives Weaver his new job.
Back at the house Drake wonders where Corrigan is. Szandor says he is tired and needs to lie down, but Drake yanks him up and pulls out the tentacle that had ensnared him.  Then Corrigan arrives and stomps on it, he starts to glow and says, this is a legit "demon spawn.  Child of Acedia. Motivational Vampire".  He tells them to evacuate the area as The Spectre is coming out to play.

Rook and another I.A. colleague are interviewing a prisoner who says he saw Drake as a narc gun down three men in cold blood while another cop watched and said he'd help cover it up.  He describes Corrigan and says he wants a deal.

In the East End, the Spectre is killing the demon spawn, which had claimed about fifty victims.  When it's finally all gone, The Spectre departs.
The Spectre in action.
Back with Kate and Weaver, she says criminal charges have been added to I.A.s case.  She says someone is "gunning for you guys, someone with power."  She says she'll do what she can but Weaver needs to wake up and defend his people and if the city needs them as badly as he says, "Gotham is screwed".

The next story is the Annual - "The Gentleman Ghost", art by Christian Duce. We begin with a man called CRaddock wooing a rich young woman called Eleanor who says "I would die for you".  He kisses her once, then Drake and Corrigan kick the door down and try to arrest Craddock.

He makes his getaway and can travel through solid objects.  Eleanor is distraught and Corrigan asks if she had a necklace.  Craddock is a "ghost and a thief, he set you up for a robbery" says COrrigan.  Drake corners Craddock and puts hex cuffs on him.  He hands her the necklace and says "you could have me.  If you really wanted me".  Then he disappears.
Gentleman Ghost.
Drake returns to Corrigan to find Eleanor has passed out.  He thinks Craddock poisoned her as the paramedics take her away to hospital.  He takes the necklace to Szandor for analysis.  He says they are "The Tears of Eurydice" and went missing in the 18th Century only to emerge for auction a short while ago.  The jewels are lovely but completely unremarkable.

Drake is in Eleanor's hospital room reminding herself she has a boyfriend and Craddock was messing with her head same as Eleanor.  Back with Corrigan, Craddock reveals himself to him saying he is not a ghost.  Corrigan notes his knife and gun and says he is not a gentleman either.  He wants to know what Craddock wants with the Tears and what he did to Eleanor.

Craddock: "The first kiss steals the breath.  The second gives it back.  If you hadn't interrupted us..."

He tells Corrigan that he knows a lonely person when he sees one.  How long it's been since he's been with someone.  "Am I waking something up?" he asks as he holds Corrigans face saying that Corrigan is wondering "what would it be like?"  Then he disappears again taking the neclace with him.
Gentleman Ghost tries to seduce Corrigan.
Later Drake and Corrigan track Craddock to a train and using a spell keep him in place.  Craddock says to Drake that what she feels for him "if you want me, it's because you want me". There is a scuffle and Drake tells Craddock she holds the gem to blow him up, "wanna see if I am bluffing?"

Craddock decides to tell them his story.  He was cursed by a witch.  She made a monster of him, "as long as she lived, I was her creature". When she died he thought he'd be free, but he remained undead.  "There is no banishing me, no matter what you think.  There is no cure".

The necklace belonged to the last woman he loved, the witches daughter who arranged to have them both killed.  Then he sprouts spider like leg-claws out of his back and escapes onto the train roof with Drake in hot pursuit.  While she and Craddock fight, Corrigan jumps off the train before he turns into The Spectre.

Craddock looks more monstrous as he fights Drake for the jewels.  Then he changes back and tells her he gave her the necklace because maybe she reminded him of someone he loved.  He kisses her, twice.  Then The Spectre appears, he crushes the jewels and Craddock is disapated in a puff of smoke.

Drake waks Corrigan up saying The Spectre enacted Judgement.  She says she didn't think Craddock deserved to die, but Corrigan says "forget it.  He won't be back."
The Spectre once again, deals with the issue at hand.
We return to the main storyine.  There is a square with a load of Tv screens in the middle of Gotham.  It's broadcasting a political show "Proud Americans, Walker Albright and Brooke Patterson".  As they discuss the news they get more and more argumentative.  Drake is in the crowd and says over the phone to Corrigan, "death is near".  Then fights break out and turns into a full blown riot she gets injured in.

Kate is meeting Rook clandestinely.  Rook says he started chasing financial irregularities, now they have evidence of criminal negligence, conspiracy, brutality, maybe murder.  He calls Corrigan a freak who nearly killed them all, "this goes to the Grand Jury".
Rook meets with Kate.
Drake is in hospital for her injuries.  Her boyfriend Pete Miller has come to be with her and she introduces him to Corrigan.  Corrigan tells him to take care of Drake, "I got this one".

He arrives at the square where the riot broke out and Szandor is already there, saying the screens "almost fried my retinas on the residual energy output".  Corrigan is floored by the psychic action which is coming from the broadcast itself. 

Albright and Patterson's show had recently become very popular, but as they walk through the station to the studio they find everyone dead. Albright and Patterson are still arguing and Corrigan starts to glow. Szandor pushes him into a lift and goes to face the pair alone.

Rook is being overwhelmed by the amount of evidence his partner, Cashmiro is supplying him with against The Midnight Shift.  "It's coming too fast, like it was waiting to happen" he says.  He thinks they are being manipulated, he smells a setup.

Rook: "We gotta be careful here.  We gotta check our motives, make sure we're clear".

Casimiro inists The Midnight Shift are killers as Szandor approaches the two arguing pundits.  A rage overcomes him and he attacks them just as the woman kills the man, they are revealed to be a mess of tentacled flesh below the waist and joined together.  The woman is relieved then quickly dies herself.
If only all pundits were this obviously evil.
Szandor returns to Corrigan who says he smells "hell rot" which only happens when people who sell their souls die.  Szandor reflects on what a world it is that creatures like that can feed on them.  Then he says Corrigan is such a creature, which he denies.

Szandor points out the Black Flowers have bloomed around Corrigan not the monster in the studio.  It is significant because he now realises the blossoms are "a warning, and I am beginning to get the message".

They drive back to Precinct 13 with Corrigan reiterating no one can save Gotham the way they can.  Waiting for them are Rook and Casimiro.  Casimiro serves a warrant on them saying they are going to search the offices and his car and says gleefully to him, "we're going to eat you alive".

Jim Corrigan is put in an interrogation cell and under observation by Casimiro and a cop called Palmer.  They discusss how he was shot one day and declared D.O.A but walked into work the next day "fresh as a daisy" saying God saved him.  He got set up with Gordon's Detailed Task Force and he starts racking up the corpses.  They go in to interview him and Corrigan dissects their interview technique saying "I've been a cop for a while".
The Midnight Shift get interrogated.
At Precinct 13, Drake is gone as well and a search is underway watched over by Rook.  "They saved your life, you son of a - " says Weaver to him.  Drake is also being interviewed, they try and turn her against Corrigan but she says "don't try pulling that divide and conquer crap with me".

Corrigan is quizzed over several deaths, and as they are mentioned Corrigan remembers The Spectre killing them.  He says "none of this was me".  At Precinct 13 Szandor is excitedly talking about the Black Flowers.  They weren't caused by Ikkondrid, they aren't provoking events.  "They are marking them for our benefit.  They are a signal" he says.

We return to Drake who is being asked if she is afraid of Corrigan which she finds hilarious.  Then her mood changes and she says quietly, "get them out.  Get everyone out of here right now. Something terrible is about to happen".  Black flowers start blooming in the interrogations cells.  Szandor says they are a langauge from someone trying to communicate with them
Drake realises someone is gonna die.
Corrigan is being pressed harder and harder over the deaths he's been accused of.  Drake has collapsed on the floor her teeth gritted hard.  The detectives interviewing Corrigan read Rook's report on The Spectre to him.  They want to know why he cares about the cases Corrigan works on.

Casimiro: "The Joker's killed more than two hundred people.  Why doesn't The Spectre judge him?  Why doesn't The Spectre just go to Arkham and clear it out?"

Corrigan says he doesn't know, it's "God's choice".  Casimiro says it's because the cases are personal to him.  He gets the rage and he lets it out.  They want him to confess and he'll be confined to a super-max prison where he can't hurt anyone.  Or they'll prosecute Drake for multiple murder, send Szandor to Arkham and disgrace Weaver.

Drake lets out her banshee scream while Corrigan gets angry about the threats to his colleagues.  The Spectre manifests and the two cops explode in a shower of gore.  Corrigan manages to whisper that they weren't sinners, did God want this?

The Spectre: "You wanted it.  It is you.  I was always you."

And he disappears again, leaving Corrigan alone, soaked in blood while outside people hammer on the door.
This might be hard to explain away.
Corrigan is led out of the blood splattered room, Drake comforts him.  One of the cops pulls a gun on them and tells the others to put cuffs on them.  Corrigan starts turning green again.  Drake pleads with him to stop.

Szandor is outside at the spot where Sister Justine died, he has an "irrational theory" that she is reaching out from beyond the grave using the Black Flowers, "or there is nothing and I only miss my dear friend".  He sees two children carrying candles and singing a song about Black Flowers.  He follows them to a shrine to Sister Justine.

The Nun Of The Narrows.
Back at the police station they stop pressurising Corrigan and he returns to normal.  Drake leads him out and no one stops them.  She puts him in a car and tells him "we're finished as cops".  They'll say she helped him getaway when all she wants is for more people not to die.  Two cops jump in a car and follow them.  They pull alongside saying that they have "Metahuman SWAT" getting ready to come out there.

Corrigan tells Drake he was shot and killed in the line of duty.

Corrigan: "God spoke to me.  Said I would live again.  Said I would be the vessel of Judgement.  That I would carry The Spectre and he would storm forth."

But The Spectre has been doing what Corrigan wanted.  Drake is appalled, "if what you're saying is true, you really are a monster." He says the Midnight Shift protects the city from monsters.  He's not going to let anybody stop them.  Drake yells what if he's just a "psycho ghost".  Corrigan says she knows what's out there ready to feed on Gotham if they let it.

Szandor is kneeling at the shrine to "The Nun of the Narrows".  He leaves an offering, a Black Flower in a jar.  One of the kids says it's her flower and maybe he'll see her tonight.  He asks to be taken where she has manifested, but when they get there the kid tells him to take his goggles off and have respect and beleive.  And he does so and sees, something...

The police car chase shifts into high speed as Corrigan and Drake argue they plow through the wall of a raised part of the motorway and plunge downwards, as they do so, The Spectre manifests.  The rest of the cops sweep the crash area and can't find anyone and declare "good riddance" to the Midnight Shift.  Then out of Slaughter Swamp rises Ikkondrid.
Ikkondrid returns.
Ikkondrid comes bearing down on Gotham again to the shock of the cops looking for the remains of Corrigan and Drake.  Szandor is in the Narrows, which has seen three thousand and eight murders since the founding of the city, "the first in 1680, the last two months ago". A crack opens in the asphalt "with a sound exactly like a gunshot" and light pours out of the crack he is kneeling at the end of.  Ghosts and animated corpses start rising up all over the city.  "Everyone who died unjustly in Gotham City is joining the army of Ikkondrid the Betrayed".

At Precinct 13, Rook, Weaver and Kate are fending off the walking dead.  Rook wants to know what the hell is going on.

Weaver: "Ten minutes ago you're calling me and my taskforce frauds.  This is what we're here for Rook!"

Elsewhere at Gotham PC the cops are also fighting the dead.  Commissioner Batman arrives on the scene and says "we need Precinct 13.  This is what Corrigan and his people are prepared for." 
Commissioner Batman is not amused.
Maggie Sawyer, who knows it's Gordon in the armour, says that might be hard as Corrigan and his partner were just run off an overpass in a police pursuit.  Gordon shouts, "you were supposed to leave Precinct 13 alone!"  He says they are in real trouble now the experts are dead.

Sawyer: "I don't know.  But being dead didn't stop Corrigan before right?"

And The Spectre comes bursting up through the road like the Wrath of God.  Drake also appears holding Corrigan up.  As the cops pull back and The Spectre starts dealing with the monsters.  Ikkondrid and The Spectre clash, but something is wrong.  The sheer number of unjust deaths in Gotham is overwhelming Corrigan, including his own death and The Spectre starts speaking the "ghost language" of Ikkondrid and starts to lash out indiscriminately.

Drake pleads with  Corrigan saying now he knows he reacts to Corrigan's subconcious he can control him, stop the devastation.  She slaps him hard saying "own it you son of a bitch".  The Spectre looks down at her an seems about to attack her when a huge radiant woman, Sister Justine it seems, rises up and faces down The Spectre and says to him "Stop.  In Heaven's Name."

Justine: "Spectre.  You are not Ikkondrid's creature. Unbind yourself from the monsters will while Gotham lives.  You are not its agent here."

The Spectre starts speaking english again but says the blood of the wicked calls to him, "you shall not stay my hand!"
Justine returns.
Szandor, still in the Narrows is kneeling in a column of light and tells the street kids to join him inside it to keep them safe.  Justine, The Spectre and Ikkondrid loom over Gotham. Drake says to Corrigan that if The Spectre really is doing Corrigan's will not God's then Weaver had the right idea to kill him before and she pulls a gun on him.

Corrigan manages to get her to wait, he and The Spectre are both angry but Justine is doing something.  Ikkondrid is back because a truce was broken.

Corrigan: "We failed.  We didn't keep our end up.  We failed to deliver justice."

He tries to figure out what that justice is.  Drake says that is being killed by their ancestors, Gotham's unjust dead going to make it happy? Up in the sky, The Spectre says to Justine, "I rebuke you!"

Justine: "Your power is my power.  It isn't the wicked who call to us.  It's the suffering like you Jim Corrigan.  I am the Redeemer."

She says The Spectre needed a soul to guide it, but Corrigan's was consumed with guilt, despair, with responsibility but without faith.  Corrigan thinks harder, "Ikkondrid came back because it was unsatisfied". 
The undead set upon Drake.
Drake laughs and say it'll fit right into the city then.  Who isn't burning with secret rage, or disappointed with themselves, who isn't blinded by sadness, who doesn' feel like a fool or a fraud, who isn't wracked with guilt, doubt or shame?

Drake: "The world is unfair Corrigan!  We are stupid and helpless and we hurt each other all the time!  What does it want that we can give it?"

Justine cups The Spectre's face as Ikkondrid watches carefully.  Corrigan starts to cry and says:

Corrigan:  "It wants us to know it... It wants us to care."

The Spectre says the city is sick and can't be cured.  Justine asks him what do you do with the sick? "You comfort them" says The Spectre and places his hand on Ikkondrid.  Corrigan calls to The Spectre, "forgive me!  Forgive us!"  And Justine and The Spectre rise into the air as he says they can't keep going on holding onto the pain and lashing out.
All the supernatural beings come to an agreement.
Ikkondrid bursts into light and into every Gothamite flies a piece of that light as the ghosts and undead disappear as well and as Justine and The Spectre ascend heavenwards to look down on Gotham and say:

The Spectre: "Gotham.  The unjust dead will not be forgotten."

Justine: "And your pain will not be ignored."

The Spectre: "They have been moved into your hearts".

Justine: "You will remember them in your quiet moments"

The Spectre: "You will remember them in your dreams."

Justine: "And you will know that none of you are alone".

The Spectre: "You are not alone."

The Spectre and Justine disapate and The Spectre returns to Corrigan while Justine releases Szandor, who staggers over to meet up with Corrigan and Drake.  Sun rises in Gotham City and Corrigan says, "I think we did some good."
A new days dawns for Gotham City.
And so that brings Gotham By Midnight to an end.  It actually ends pretty satisfactorily with the Ikkondrid plotline wrapped up.  Shame we'll never know who had it in for The Midnight Shift, but given two plotlines to resolve I think Ray Fawkes made the right decision to persue the supernatural one which was in fact what the book was all about.  It's a real pity that this book was one of the first culled when DC decided the DCYou was a failure and it was time to circle the wagons, get back to basics and Rebirth the DCU as the same boring old shit we've been subjected to in the tentpole franchises for the last thousand years.

Juan Ferreyra was an adequate replacement for Ben Templesmith, his painted artwork depicting gruesome monsters, the vengeful Spectre and the ordinary people will consumate skill.  There was so much unrealised potential in this set-up, The X-Files of the Gotham PD that it's hard to forgive it being given the chop.  It used religion with respect and made The Spectre a truly awesome prescence for the first time in an age. It gave us a cast of likeable characters who spoke like normal people and figured things out without rushing in and punching stuff.  It was a grown up take on the Bat-verse that had appeal to readers interested in the Gotham setting but perhaps not as interested in Batman.  I wish it had found it's niche and that DC was willing to accept lower selling titles as the price of offering diversity of choice.  But alas, that's the demise of the DCYou in a nutshell.  For shame.

4 comments:

  1. I wish this hadn't been cancelled! DC make me mad and also DC readers for not reading it >:(

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  2. Well I do feel like I am part of the problem not being able to afford the floppies. It's insane that DC and Marvel don't seem to factor in trade sales when making a decision on a series future.

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  3. Alas, I know not the difference between DCYou and DC Rebirth. But I know this was a v. v. good comic that should have lasted a lot longer than it did. At least it ended on a positive note. That last panel is just gorgeous. Painted art really rocks my socks when it's done with skill and not just done because it's seen as 'fashionable'.

    Also, Sister Justine is cool.

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  4. The DCYou was an attempt to lighten the DCU up after the grimdark Nu52. Alas it was barely given a chance and we got one year of fantastic and fun comics only to be replaced with.... ah I don't know. All I know is the DC Rebirth killed many titles I really enjoyed. I resent it for that before I even check out what the comics are like now :D

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