I've never read any David Lapham before, but I'd heard good things. I picked this trade up for super cheap, this being the first comic book item I've purchased in probably six months. It seemed really big and self-contained, which are the two things I'm looking for in a trade. Let's take a look.
Bruce Wayne doesn't notice when a teenaged socialite is in trouble, which starts a chain reaction, involving the rich, their dirty investments into a new property being built, six pregnant girls murdered in an apartment fire, a missing pregnant girl, the Penguin, Mr Freeze, the Ventriloquist, a mysterious enemy who has spread his or her influence from the top to the bottom.
This is an extremely complicated and well written story. Each issue of the story builds upon the larger plot. Definitely this is something you must read from the beginning, as picking up any individual issue would leave the reader unsatisfied and very confused.
I absolutely loved this series. Not only was it starkly narrated, definitely immersed in the emotions of the character, but it's also tremendously well drawn. Each character stands out and are consistent. The mood and atmosphere of the story is reflected in the well designed cityscapes and neighbourhoods.
An element of this Batman story, and others of a similar style is that they use the city and its millions of inhabitants. It seems that in most comic book stories, there's only the heroes and the villains, and their henchmen. This ignores the actual citizens, the people affected by the poverty, the crime, the drugs, the various social problems destroying a city of this size. Gotham City becomes a character in this comic.
City of Crime might be one of the best Batman stories I've ever read. It's complex, clever, adds something new to the mythos while still employing classic elements of it, which is something all comic books based on legends should do. Even the concept of The Batman is examined, in particular what drives a man to put on a rubber suit and fight crime. Batman isn't a superhero, invulnerable to the horror and the decay - this is an emotionally scarred man, and the story reflects this. I liked City of Crime better than any of the Grant Morrison Batman stories, which is saying a ton considering my adoration of the Bald One.
I strongly urge any comic book fan to give this a try!