Review: Gotham City: Year One #5

Gotham City: Year One – “Chapter Five”
Writer: Tom King
Artists: Phil Hester, Eric Gapstur
Color Artist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Review by Eric Lee

Gotham City: Year One #5 delivers even more twists and turns, to satisfy noir fans. This issue certainly seems like a turning point for the series and the writer, Tom King, has said that this story will reveal what turned Gotham from a sunny city into a crime-ridden cesspool. This chapter really shows the inflection point for the most troubled town in the DC Universe.

Slam Bradley – the Perfect Imperfect Protagonist

To make things worse, our protagonist Slam Bradley is at least partially to blame. A lead in a noir is always at their most interesting when they’re not in the clear right, and Bradley now has his hands dirty with his own faults.

We also finally get the answers to the mystery of the Waynes, as well as a fairly clear idea of what happened to their kidnapped baby. The plot twists work well and there’s a real sense of gratification when the disparate plot threads are connected.

Phil Hester’s art is extremely moody too. The heavy emphasis on the blacks gives this a visual tone of darkness and grime. Furthermore, the scenes of chaos are depicted in a visually visceral way. Like I’ve said previously, it seems like colorist Jordie Bellaire is contributing to the illustrations with his varying color palettes. It is particularly effective when she depicts fire. It’s wild and out-of-control, exactly how the state of Gotham is supposed to be.

Show Not Tell

I do have one major critique of the issue; the pacing’s a little too fast for my taste. The revelations occur too quickly, which could leave readers feeling slightly disoriented. One problem is that a lot of the secrets are revealed via narration. It may be a lot to ask the audience to keep track of the byzantine plot points all through narration and this would have been a great opportunity to show not tell. Since comics are a visual medium, it’s a little disappointing that King didn’t utilize this to its fullest advantage.


Gotham City: Year One #5 is chock full of secrets and revelations that fall into place perfectly. Despite the fact that King relies a bit too much on the narration to describe the events, the overall dramatic effect is worth it. Hopefully, the final chapter will lead to an epic conclusion.

Images courtesy of DC Entertainment

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