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Gotham By Midnight Annual #1 Review and *SPOILERS*
Written By: Ray Fawkes Art By: Christian Duce, Lee Loughridge Cover Price: $4.99 Release Date: June 29, 2015
I Would Do Anything For Love......But I Won't Do That
*Non Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*
It's odd. Annuals are a real mystery to me because while sometimes I loathe them for interrupting the storyline that I'm invested in at the time, other times I love the break and just enjoy an extended one-shot. Yeah, we also get Annuals that play into the stories that we're dealing with and I love those uses of the Annual books, but here we're getting the former and since we've mostly been dealing with a monster of the week scenario in this title, I'm happy as hell to get into a one off story, especially since it deals with one of my favorite guilty pleasure villains .....Gentleman Ghost! Let's see if we can get behind this re-imagining of the character and if Precinct 13 can take Gentleman Jim Craddock down. Let's check it out.
Our story begins with a very different Jim Craddock than we're used to. Here he seems to be wooing a wealthy woman to get close to her antique necklace, but before Craddock can seal the deal, Jim Corrigan and Lisa Drake storm in to do a little "ghostbusting". It's never really explained how Precinct 13 knew Gentleman Ghost was going to be there, but it's what they do and we'll just go with it. As Detective Drake goes after a fleeing Craddock, Corrigan stays with the woman and we start getting some insight into this new Gentleman Ghost. We find out through Corrigan, that Craddock seems to have the ability to woo people and we really get this idea when Lisa Drake corners him and instead of cuffing him with a pair of hexed hand cuffs, Craddock gets away while Drake was leaning in for a kiss. At least it's not a total loss, our heroes do end up with the necklace and from there, Jim Corrigan discovers that this necklace holds a secret to getting Craddock.......... You know, his Spectre Sense was tingling and what not. While Lisa goes to the hospital with the recently conned woman, who seems to be suffering from ghostly kissing disease, Drake begins thinking about Craddock and what he did to the both of them to get what he wanted.......... and Corrigan will certainly begin thinking about that too after Craddock appeared in his office and seduced him a bit before disappearing with the necklace. That must be some damn whammy he puts on people!
This is a very different Craddock indeed because as we go through this story we see a character that seems to be completely re-imagined. Not only has the cartoony, white aura, no face been replaced with someone who actually looks like a tangible being. He's got the gift of charm that easily allows him to get whatever he wants, but it's not all suits and secret whispers from this new ghost. It seems that when he looses his cool or simply decides to show his monstrous self, Craddock has four spider like arms that come from out from within his jacket and we find out this new Craddock's origin when Corrigan and Drake catch up with him on a train and bind him down with a relic. It turns out that the necklace he was after was a gift from the last woman he ever loved. You see, her mother was a witch and she had grand plans for her daughter, but after she met Jim Craddock, it seems that his charms drove this woman away from her mother's witchy lifestyle, which forced her hand in having them both killed, but cursing Jim Craddock to walk between the worlds between life and death and forcing him into her servitude. Eventually though, after a lifetime of forcing Craddock to do terrible things, the witch died, but sadly his curse lived on. Now the Gentleman Ghost is simply trying to retrieve the last gift he was ever given in his life by the last woman he ever loved. Not too shabby of an origin tale, heh?
In the end, after the origin story, Craddock isn't about to be kept captive by Precinct 13, so he sucker punches Corrigan with one of those hidden spider legs and the final fight is on. Lisa Drake attempts to apprehend Craddock, while Corrigan fights the coming of The Spectre.
Eventually and thankfully, all three get off the train and we end this story with Lisa Drake seeming to have feelings for Craddock and his "wooing" that we thought he did earlier was simply her own attraction for him and not any sort of whammy after all........which is a little weird because she goes off earlier with an internal monologue about how she's happy with her current boyfriend and before we get to think anymore about it, The Spectre comes and simply banishes Gentleman Ghost away. As our issue closes, we see our heroes walking away and Lisa Drake looking like she's unsure about how to feel about this whole case.
That's it for this Annual of Gotham By Midnight and I have to say that I rather enjoyed this re-imagining of Gentlemen Ghost, but I think that the story might have played better in an actual story arc instead of being forced into an Annual sized issue. It's mostly due to the subplot about Lisa Drake's attraction to Craddock because by the end we're supposed to feel bad for Drake for having to have gone through this supernatural attraction when she's already in a committed relationship, but also we get the idea that she is somehow the reincarnated love of Craddock, but it plays out way too fast since Craddock is cast away right after this and since we've never seen Drake's boyfriend or even heard about this relationship before, there really isn't anything for us to grab a hold of for an emotional connection. I like the one off story about Precinct 13 taking down a supernatural jewel thief, but it's that damn emotional connection that we never really get because of how forced it feels that brings this story down. Like I said though, if this were like a three part story I think it would have played out better, but for what it was I enjoyed it enough. While I love Juan Ferreyra's art in the regular issues, I really dug what we got from Christian Duce here. It's completely different than anything that we've gotten from this series and it makes me wish that we saw more of Duce in the DCYou.
Bits and Pieces:
Who doesn't love Gentleman Ghost? That's right nobody and after Ray Fawke's re-imagining of him here, we have a whole other depth and look to the character than anything we've seen of him before. While some of the emotions seem kind of forced due to trying to cram all of this story into an Annual sized issue, I still managed to have a good time and really enjoyed seeing Christian Duce's art representing these characters in a way that we haven't seen from this series before. Hopefully after this, we won't have to wait as long as we have to see Gentleman Ghost back on the paneled page.