“Gotham by Midnight” #3 continues the strong progress of this new series from DC Comics as Ray Fawkes and Ben Templesmith mix a police procedural with horror elements. By setting this series in Gotham, it gives the duo a chance to take the familiar and add in an extra, dangerous element.
This issue follows the format of the previous one, advancing the action in the present day while also flashing back to the past and letting us learn more about one of our protagonists. This time, it’s Detective Lisa Drake’s turn in the spotlight when we meet her hanging with lowlifes even as her path intersects with Jim Corrigan’s. It’s an effective method to show us why these two are working together, even as it reveals some surprise facets of each character.
What works especially well in Fawkes’ script this month, though, is how “Gotham by Midnight” #3 is both a one-off story and one that contributes to the storyline that ran in the previous two issues. It’s part of a larger story arc but, at the same time, you could come into “Gotham by Midnight” #3 completely cold and still both understand and enjoy it, as Corrigan and Drake go after a demon living in a girl’s shadow. For a new series, I feel like this approach is critical; you can’t afford to scare off new readers by making it impossible to read the comic unless you’ve been around since day one, but there also needs to be some sort of thread moving through the title that keeps existing readers hooked and wanting to see what happens next.
It doesn’t hurt, of course, that both Fawkes and Templesmith make “Gotham by Midnight” #3 incredibly creepy. The idea of the shadow demon is sufficiently spooky, and Templesmith’s depiction of the wicked shadow and what lives inside it is a little unnerving; it takes the ordinary and slowly twists it into something unnatural. I’m also a big fan of how Templesmith is approaching the flashbacks, using a muted, almost black-and-white look to let the reader instantly know what time period we’re in. At the same time, the little flashes of color in the past accentuate key moments, grabbing your attention. “Gotham by Midnight” #3 doesn’t look like any other title at DC Comics right now, and it’s that different style that helps sell its dark nature.
“Gotham by Midnight” is now three-for-three and, by this point, I feel like it should be locking in its readership. With a big story slowly building amidst small, creepy tales, Fawkes and Templesmith’s structure is working out quite well. If you haven’t picked up “Gotham by Midnight” yourself just yet, this is a great a place as any to begin.