Review – Gotham City: Year One #3 – The Bitter End

Comic Books DC This Week
Gotham City: Year One #4 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Gotham City: Year One #3 – Tom King, Writer; Phil Hester, Penciller; Eric Gapstur, Inker; Jordie Bellaire, Colorist

Ray – 9/10

Ray: Slam Bradley’s descent into the darkest corners of Gotham went from bad to worse last issue, as his stakeout with the Wayne patriarch slid into chaos and forced Bradley to knock him out to neutralize him. The end of the issue looked like Wayne may have died, but he seems to be okay—although the same can’t be said for the cops who Bradley delivers an absolutely harrowing beatdown to after watching them cross a line in a brutal flashback. Bradley is a very interesting character—an ex-cop whose issue doesn’t seem to be police brutality per se, but rather police brutality dealt out against the innocent. Because Bradley has absolutely no problem using extreme brutality when he’s convinced someone deserves it, and that hypocrisy is the core of this series. It’s also why Constance Wayne reaches out to him privately to hire him—not to find her daughter, but to avenge her now that she’s lost hope.

Brutality. Via DC Comics.

This sense of ambiguity and doom looms over the issue, as Bradley seeks out the few leads he has. It all comes back to the mysterious woman, now named as Queenie, who has transferred the intel to Slam over the course of the series. She seems to be the puppetmaster, but is also clearly working for someone else, and as Slam works his way through the corners of Gotham where the Waynes never would, it’s interesting to observe. Slam is a brutal, often cruel man, but he’s also honest and surprisingly open-minded. He’s willing to treat Black matrons or Latina elders as equals and respect the rules of their environment—a courtesy he rarely grants to the rich and powerful. But that doesn’t make him infallible, and the final pages of this issue are a harrowing tour de force as Slam is pushed too far and reveals the truth—potentially unleashing something even he can’t control. This might be the most pitch-black of King’s works so far, but it’s also excellent.

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