First things first, this series is definitely for a maturer audience and is not suitable for younger readers.
On this website I usually write about comics that are suitable for schools and pupils but I made an exception in this case as I want to spread the Gotham Central love as it was an underappreciated comic upon initial release but with these collected edition it will hopefully find the audience it deserves.
I bought the 4 graphic novels that make up the entirety of the Gotham Central series and read the whole lot over the course of a week. The premise appealed to me as it is one of those ideas that is obvious once someone explains it to you: a police procedural set in the world of Gotham City with its rogues gallery of the finest villains in comics.
The series is a mix of crime noir but what makes it stand out are the characters, no not the villains but rather the police officers. The cops are 3-dimensional and well rounded, they have their faults and issues but that's what makes them believable. The characters talk about real-world problems and I guess that's why I liked the series. For a series that's set in Gotham Batman features veryoccasionally and from the cops point of view is a nuisance, a vigilante who works in mysterious ways but can on occasion be a useful ally in times of great need.
As a fan of superhero comics it's wonderful to take a break from the norm and read a series that is unpredictable and requires some grey matter. I don't watch many cop shows or read many crime books, although I do have a soft spot for Columbo and Diagnosis Murder, but this series had me hooked with several standout stories.
In the first graphic novel In the Line of Duty, Mr Freeze is front and centre in a powerful tale in which one of the detectives gets frozen, his ear ripped off initially and then smashed into pieces as the villian leads an audacious plot to kill most of the GCPD. This is gritty noir with a cold- calculating Freeze that sets the tone for the series.
In novel 2 there's Daydreams and Believers, the story about Stacy, the civilian who operates the Bat signal but has romantic fantasies about Batman. This is a great story that delves into the life and motivations of Gothams finest, all brought to life from the point of view of a civilian.
In novel 3 the corruption within the GCPD and how good cops deal with it comes to the fore. The character of Corrigan and his corrupt practices within the force are a rich vein that is tapped throughout the rest of the series.
In novel 4 the 3 parter Dead Robin looks at the mystery of Boy Wonders turning up killed across Gotham.
Across all the books is the theme of corruption within the GCPD and it is this fight against the enemy within that provides much of the heart for the story. It ends on a cliffhanger with Corrigan II and it is such a shame that after 40 comics it was cut short as I really enjoyed the stories and world that Rucka and Brubaker had created. Do yourself a favour and pick up the 4 graphic novels as they are amazing and worthy of the Eisner and Harvey Awards showered upon them.