Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Welcome to the Gotham City PD...and Some Other Things, Too

A short-ish post today, since I'm currently trying to catch up on a year's worth of backed-up reading over the course of my little holiday vacation time. There are a couple of things I'd like to mention, though, so this post may turn out to be kind of review-y.

Gotham Central coverFirst up, since I got it for Christmas and have just finished reading it, is a book that DC Comics put out a few years back, called Gotham Central. I got the hardcover edition of the series, which collects the first ten issues in a nice, oversized format that really displays artist Michael Lark's moody line work.

This volume is entitled "Book One: In the Line of Duty," and it is written by two of the industry's top talents, Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker. Gotham Central is the story of the other heroes of Batman's Gotham City--the officers that make up the Gotham City Police Department. In this first book, the GCPD follows both meta-humans and your typical, everyday Gotham crime scum.

Anyone who knows comics knows that Brubaker and Rucka excel with this kind of street crime fiction, and this neo-noir series is a shining example of that talent. Bottom line, if you are a fan of crime fiction, then this comic is a must-read. If you are a Batman fan, while the Caped Crusader only makes spot appearances in the first hardcover collection, you will still take something away from this book.

We learn from the very first issue of the series that Batman isn't exactly...liked...by all of Gotham's cops. Think about it: Batman gets the collars, the newspaper headlines, and he gets to operate outside of the law and without any paperwork. This creeping resentment, but ultimate respect, for Batman among the police force serves as a nice undertone for the series.

The other book I wanted to mention has nothing to do with comics. Well, that's not exactly true. It's written by a comedian, the great Artie Lange of the Howard Stern Show, and the autobiography is called Too Fat to Fish.

I've listened to the Stern Show since I was in high school, and the addition of Artie several years ago just made the show better than ever in my opinion. I still follow the show when I can, since my brother has satellite radio, and Artie brings a whole new level of funny to the show's classic lineup.

On to my review, then. First off, let me warn everyone that, as you might expect, this is definitely a mature readers book. But you knew that. Second, I polished the book off in a few hours, as it is not exactly astro-physics, so just be prepared for a quick read. Third, it's important to know going in that you will feel pretty lousy at several different moments in Lange's retelling of his life.

Now, don't get me wrong, the book is still quite funny, with Artie's humor laced throughout some incredible stories, but there are times when, as is expected in life, the serious and heavy need to take over. There are several heartfelt moments, particularly when Artie speaks of his late father, and there are even more stop-in-your-tracks scary stories of Lange's drug abuse and alcohol problems.

I definitely have a different picture of the man after reading this book. And that's not to say that I regard him in a more negative light. Artie is, above all else in these pages, incredibly honest in his stories about how he's lost control in the past, and how, when it comes down to it, he has an addictive personality.

Some of the things he writes about are hard to believe, and are simply hard to read. This book makes it crystal clear that Lange has demons, and that they hang around him still.

That said, there are some wild, hilarious stories about Artie's early days in the business, and he also provides some "inside baseball" for fans of the Stern Show. If you're a fan of the show, there's just enough info on the main players that you'll enjoy the book. But, if you're an Artie fan, then this is a must-read.

Well, that's all I've got for today. I have an interesting pile of stuff to get to, including some DVDs and audio books in addition to a looming pile of graphic novels and those other, non-picture-y books, so I'll likely post more later in the week. [Nathaniel's note: Leaving me to pick up the slack!]

'Til then...

[Image from www.wikipedia.org]

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