Review: Gotham City: Year One #4

“Chapter Four”
Writer: Tom King
Artists: Phil Hester, Eric Gapstur
Color Artist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Review by Eric Lee

Gotham City: Year One #4 begins to connect story threads and deepen the mystery, even if it is still too opaque to follow along.

Seeing writer Tom King go full-on film noir gives Gotham City: Year One a unique and highly enjoyable reading experience. We get the mystery, conspiracy, the morally ambiguous motives, and the femmes fatale. It’s all here and King seems to revel in playing with all of the conventions.

The peak noir tone really informs Slam Bradley and the crazy things he does in this issue. Without getting into too much, he really commits actions that bring him to the point of no return. All of this serves to make him a truly fascinating character. At this point, we’ve been with Bradley because he is a stereotypical upstanding guy, but in this chapter he does some things that will ‘dirty’ him up. It’s a bit shocking, yet perfectly in-character with what’s been established so far.

The mystery element of the kidnapped Wayne baby is uncovering more clues. However, the hints given are still too cryptic to mean anything to the reader. We seem to have a primary suspect, but since the mystery element of the comic hasn’t dropped a lot of hints, the suspect’s motivation remains unknown.

Phil Hester’s art continues to go heavy on the noir. He’s really using the shadows to play a huge role, which sets the mood perfectly. Jordie Bellaire’s use of spot coloring also does an amazing job of heightening the drama of a scene. When I see red ink against stark white background, the scene becomes so much more impactful.

Conclusion

Gotham City: Year One #4 is a very entertaining read as it kicks its film noir influences into overdrive. Even a somewhat mediocre mystery doesn’t dampen the sharp characterization and moody art.

Images courtesy of DC Entertainment


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