From the moment it was first announced back in August of 2014, we’ve been absolutely obsessed with DC’s Gotham by Midnight here at the Big Comic Page. So when we recently found out that the series would be cancelled this December as part of DC’s latest ‘cull’, to say that we were devastated would be a major understatement.
For those of you not familiar with the series, here’s the skinny; the story is based around the Gotham City Police Department’s Detailed Case Task Force (aka “The Midnight Shift”), headed up by Jim Corrigan, who many of you will recognise as “The Specter”. Essentially, the “Midnight Shift” are a team of misfits who pick up the weird, unexplained cases that nobody else wants to touch. Taking the form of what is essentially a police procedural, the series sees the team doing their best to explain and overcome the supposedly supernatural problems that plague Gotham, while also having to fend off an aggressive Internal Affairs investigation that wants to have ‘Jim Gordon’s crazy side-project’ shut down for good.
Written by Ray Fawkes and featuring artwork from Ben Templesmith (for the first five issues) and Juan Ferreyra (from issue six onwards), the series has a decidedly unconventional style, both visually and in terms of its story. Templesmith and Ferreyra are both true masters of horror art, even if their styles couldn’t be more different, and each artist does an absolutely terrific job of bringing the darker, more supernatural side of Gotham to the page.
In an industry where titles published by ‘big two’ are becoming so regulated and homogenized that storylines, artwork and characters are all starting to almost feel interchangeable, Gotham by Midnight stood out like a glowing beacon of weirdness; an unashamedly ‘indie’ book in a company that prides itself on its highly-regimented, highly struyctured ‘meat and potatoes’ approach.
I mean, essentially, what you have here is a supernatural crime procedural set in perhaps the most iconic city in the world of comics, featuring some brilliantly realised characters and some of the best artwork you’re going to find on the shelves today. Which begs the question… why the hell did Gotham by Midnight not succeed like it clearly deserved to?
It certainly wasn’t anything to do with the critical response. To date, the series has racked up an impressive average rating of 8.4 on comicbookroundup.com, based on 100 separate reviews (including some of ours) gleamed from around the web. People have been singing the praises of this series since its very first issue, but for some reason, those glowing words and emphatic recommendations haven’t translated into the most important factor for any new comics… sales.
Perhaps it was the people who initially picked up a book with ‘Gotham’ in the title only to find a distinct lack of Caped Crusader, throwing it away in disgust before they’d taken the time to appreciate just how freaking awesome it was? Perhaps it was the unconventional artwork from Ben Templesmith, artwork that proved just too difficult for readers raised on the chunky, interchangeable ‘house style’ to digest? Or perhaps it was just a little too dark, a little too weird, a little too… different?
Whatever the reason, it sadly seems like the die has been cast, and Gotham by Midnight will be wrapping up with its final issue this December. At the same time though, there’s still a glimmer of hope… albeit an incredibly faint one. With DC recently offering The Omega Men a stay of execution, and a half-dozen extra issues due to fan outcry, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Gotham by Midnight could potentially receive the same treatment.
So let’s say you love this series as much as we do and you’re sitting there reading this, nodding your head in agreement and saying to yourself “what should I do?” Well, you can start by using your voice. Shout your love of this series from the rooftops; tell your friends, your Twitter followers, your Facebook friends, tell them all how great it is and how they should pick it up immediately. Urge them to grab the trade paperback of the first five issues, urge them to grab the remaining three issues as soon as they’re released, and for god’s sake make sure you urge them to get issue #9 which hit the shelves this past Wednesday (and is, incidentally, one of the best single issues I think I’ve read all year.)
Maybe we can make a difference, maybe not, but whatever happens, it’s clear that Fawkes and Ferreyra are planning on going out with a bang. The latest issue changed the dynamic of the series in a major way, and had me – and a lot of other readers, by the sounds of it – absolutely gripped throughout, before leaving their jaws on the floor with an utterly shocking final few pages. So hey, even if the end is coming in December, we can console ourselves in the fact that we’re going to be treated to one hell of a finale.
Oh, and finally, I’d like to take this opportunity to personally thank Ray Fawkes, Ben Templesmith, Juan Ferreyra and anyone else associated with this series for one hell of a ride. I’m of the strong opinion that the world of comics – particularly the ‘big two’ – needs more books like this. The ability to push boundaries is what makes comics so damn exciting, and watching companies (and readers) hold back, play it safe and stick to the same tired, rehashed books and storylines is truly demoralising as a fan. So thank you all, from everyone at the Big Comic Page, and everyone else who picked up – and loved – this series. Now… bring us that finale!