Gotham Central was a comic book series by DC Comics that was spun off from the Batman series of comic books. It is a police procedural drama, set inside of the Gotham police force. It ran from 2003 to 2006, and was written by Greg Rucka, who is an established writer both in comic books and outside of it.

The basic idea of Gotham Central was to take a location inside the DC Universe, and try to translate it down into real world terms. Many of the characters are established members of the DC continuity, but the series shows them in a different light. The series was very atmospheric, with lots of panels showing cluttered desks filled with coffee cups and cigarette butts, and a gritty view of Gotham's urban decay. Although I don't watch a lot of police procedural television shows, the series was clearly inspired by them, especially the more gritty ones. Stylistically, it is perhaps the only comic book I've ever read where the most important member of the art team was the colorist, because it was visually done in very muted, drab colors. So the series was distinctive in different ways.

Whether it works is a matter of taste. I approve of any experimentation in comics, especially one that is as well-executed as this was. The biggest problem is what is called, in science fiction terminology, the Squid on the Mantlepiece. While it is good that the writers want to show the DC Universe at street level, it suffers the incongruity that while the police detectives are downing cups of coffee and complaining about their ex-wives, they are also still trying to capture The Joker. And that they live in a world that is regularly attacked by alien invasion armadas. While it is sometimes possible to look over this incongruity, for me it ends up neither being realistic enough for real drama, nor fantastic enough to be a good comic book.

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