Review – Gotham City: Year One #4: Requiem Bells

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Gotham City: Year One #4 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Gotham City: Yea One #4 – Tom King, Writer; Phil Hester, Penciller; Eric Gapstur, Inker; Jordie Bellaire, Colorist

Ray – 9/10

Ray: Tom King’s works have always been bleak, with stories focusing on Mister Miracle’s suicide attempt, Adam Strange’s war crimes, and Supergirl investigating a genocide, among other topics. But I don’t know if he’s ever quite plumbed the depths of humanity in the way he is with this gritty early 20th-century crime thriller. Slam Bradley has been pulled into a mystery involving the missing Wayne daughter, and it came to a horrific close last issue when the baby’s body was found buried in a shallow grave. Just about everyone blames Slam for failing to get the child back alive—the police, and her father, Richard, both of whom seem to take great joy in beating him half to death, Slam’s cynical approach to life and narration has been a key part of this series from the start, and his commentary on how he deals with the police will definitely ring very true to some people. But he can only be pushed so far.

The ugly truth. Via DC Comics.

Slam’s strange relationship with the couple of Richard and Constance Wayne has been the focus of this series from the start, with Richard seeming to view him as a tool and Constance—who seemed cold and impersonal at first—leaning on him in a much more human way. Their relationship takes a turn this issue, not long after Richard tried to kill Slam, but there are still several more twists coming. Constance has her own theories on why Helena was killed and how this will affect Gotham’s future, while Queenie still lurks in the shadows. The mysterious young go-between for the killers has never seemed like she was the murderous type, and when she finds Slam she has a very different story to tell—one that implicates the last name that makes sense as the killer. This is a tense, gripping story that immerses you in a very different Gotham—one less crime-riddled, but maybe just as cruel. It hasn’t reached the heights of King’s other works yet, but it is building towards an explosive finale.

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