The first issue of Batman: Gotham Nights was the weakest out of DC Comics Digital First launch week. The two stories that were in the first issue weren’t bad but splitting the issue up into the two different types of stories just did not hit the way if Batman: Gotham Nights #1 focused entirely on one of them. Given how impressed I’ve been with most of DC Comics’ Digital First comic books thus far I expect Batman: Gotham Nights #2 will quickly establish what this version of Batman’s world is like. Let’s find out if that is the case with Batman: Gotham Nights #2.
Writer: Michael Grey
Artist: Ryan Benjamin
Inker: Richard Friend
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Dillon Yates, an actor wanted for the murder of studio director, tries to evade the cops by driving through Gotham City’s streets.
Just as he believes he lost the police Batman appears in the Batmobile and easily stops Dillon’s car. Batman grabs Dillon out of his car and knocks him out.
Later that night, atop the GCPD headquarters, Batman reveals to Commissioner Gordon he does not believe Dillon is responsible. Batman then shows two videos with the same time stamp that shows Dillon was somewhere else when the murder took place.
Batman then reveals that the studio director that was murdered recently sold the Gotham Grand Theater to a company that plans on demolishing the place and building a parking lot. Commissioner Gordon lights his cigar pipe and wonders who could the imposter be Batman is already gone.
One of the GCPD officers appears. Commissioner Gordon tells the officer that it is not good to eavesdrop on people. The officer mentions he saw Batman leave while Commissioner Gordon was lighting his pipe. Commissioner Gordon compliments the officer on being one of the few who have seen Batman pull off his disappearing trick.
After Commissioner Gordon leaves the officer’s face starts to melt.
Over At Hotel Aventine, the place the murder took place, Batman takes a blood and dirt samples from the party.
Batman analyzes the samples and is able to put together who was actually responsible for the murder and framing of Dillon Yates.
Batman goes to the Gotham Grand and is able to sneak inside. When he does he finds Basil Karlo (aka Clayface) waiting for him. Batman says he knows that when Clayface was just Basil Karlo that his first movie premiered at the Gotham Grand which is his motive for the murder. What Batman doesn’t know is why Clayface framed Dillon Yates.
Clayface reveals that Dillon Yates has sexually harassed countless actresses, including friends he still has in the business, and is allowed to keep getting away with it.
Clayface then demands to know why Batman is allowed to exact justice but he is not. Batman states they are nothing alike. This makes Clayface question if Batman has a secret identity and if his cape and cowl is his true identity.
Batman says he is done talking. Clayface agrees and sets off several explosives he planted earlier. Batman asks Clayface what he has done. Clayface states he has done what all of Gotham City’s villains dream of: outsmarting Batman.
Due to the fire all Batman can do is try to dodge Clayface’s attacks. Realizing that the Gotham Grand has become a death trap Batman tries to escape. Clayface continues to put Batman on the defensive to keep him from escaping.
Eventually Batman is able to blow up a part of one of the walls. Batman tells Clayface they can escape through the hole in the wall. Clayface says there is no point because his show is over. Batman attempts to get to Clayface but is blown out of the building when the Gotham Grand completely collapses.
Five hours later as the firefighters finish putting out the fire at the Gotham Grand. Batman eventually finds what is left of Clayface. When he touches the body Batman realizes that it is just a husk that Clayface left behind while he escaped through a trapdoor on the floor.
Batman walks away thinking how Clayface by taking out two monsters off the streets he believes Clayface wants to do good. Batman then thinks how whoever said “every villain is the hero of their own story” was likely a villain. End of issue.
The Good: Batman: Gotham Nights #2 follows the footsteps of the other early DC Comics Digital First comic books by telling us one complete story in a single issue. This gave the story between Batman and Clayface a chance to breathe over the course of Batman: Gotham Nights #2. There was a clear focus to what Michael Grey wanted you to understand with this story.
Going with this direction allowed Grey to create a story that spotlighted the key players involved, in this case Batman and Clayface. While we did see Commissioner Gordon appear in this issue, he wasn’t a driving force. He was here to help move the story forward. For some this may not be what you want when Commissioner Gordon appears in a Batman comic but Grey made it work. We already know what Batman and Commissioner Gordon’s relationship is and don’t need a reminder with some deep conversation.
This pushing forward mentality most benefited Clayface’s character. While Clayface is known to be part of Batman’s rogues gallery we’ve seen more writers like James Tynion and Tom King write the character more as a misunderstood anti-hero. Grey taps into that characterization of Clayface’s character to further peel back the layers of who he is.
Kicking Batman: Gotham Nights #2 off with Batman capturing the supposed murderer, Dillon Yates, opened the door longer to think of why Clayface would do what he did. And as we learn once Batman confronted him, Clayface did it for good reasons. It was just his methods of bringing Dillon Yates and the studio director to justice was wrong. Clayface took it so far that he placed himself in the stop to join the two people he was bringing to justice as the bad guys of this story.
Grey bringing up how Clayface believes what he did was no different than Batman was an interesting note to tackle. Because as we see Clayface had similar intentions to Batman by bringing two criminals who have avoided being prosecuted by the system. The thing was that Clayface crossed the line we see Batman never does. Through this back-and-forth we are reminded how often Batman battles not crossing that line when battling his rogues gallery and other criminals.
What was interesting in all this was Batman recognizing at the end of the issue that Clayface is a good guy. Having that lightbulb moment makes you understand why there are villains like Clayface that Batman tries harder to help. This ending positions a greater story to be told between Batman and Clayface that builds an actual relationship as allies in the future.
Ryan Benjamin does a good job capturing the grounded nature of Batman’s world. Gotham City has a dark, crime-ridden feel as we see Batman driving and going into different buildings. Benjamin also does a good job displaying how dangerous Clayface is with how Batman could do nothing but dodge the villain’s attack.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Batman: Gotham Nights #2 does exactly what I was looking for. Michael Grey and Ryan Benjamin deliver a Batman story that adds layers to the Clayface character. In doing so we get a fight that has greater meaning than just another hero vs. villain fight. If you are a Batman fan and looking for fun a new story that takes place in Gotham City than look into picking up Batman: Gotham Nights #2.
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