Streets of Gotham has proven to be an enjoyable outing so far and one of the few comics out there well worth the 3.99 price tag. Also being the most enjoyable of the Batman Reborn status quo it’s hard not to be excited to see where Dini takes this great series with the twist of Hush impersonating Bruce Wayne. Does Dini continue to work his magic or is Streets of Gotham finally losing it’s steam? Let’s find out.
Writer: Paul Dini
Art: Dustin Nguyen
Colorist: Derek Fridolfs
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: a Gotham news reporter is mentioning how Bruce Wayne (Thomas Elliot AKA Hush pretending to be Bruce) is fixing up the old factory where the Joker was born. Boosting jobs for Gotham’s unemployed and getting a lot of love for it all.
The reporter mentions that Bruce Wayne is no longer the irresponsible billionaire playboy as Bruce denies a group of women and heads into an elevator. Hush hears a beeping noise when he is pulled out of the exploding elevator by Robin.
Robin threatens to drop Hush. Instead, Robin throws Hush onto a rooftop where Batman is waiting. They discuss how Robin wants to kill him but Batman insists not to. Batman deduces that Hush is doing this to drain funds in order to make it harder on Batman and Robin to fight crime.
Batman decides rather than taking Hush down and exposing him that Hush’s actions as Bruce will have to be approved by a special committee. Robin is less than pleased with Batman’s plan. Hush seems casual about it and is certain that the committee will approve all of his ideas.
We cut to Penguin who is staring in the mirror looking somber at his losses to Black Mask. Still, he remains upbeat as he can that he can keep an eye on the Black Mask for weaknesses. Penguin comes out of his room with a grin.
One of the waitresses (I’m not sure, is she actually the Penguin’s lover or not? I seem to recall a blonde girl that the Penguin was sharing a room with a while back in the Robin series) seems worried about some creep walking in, but Penguin says not to worry. Penguin is surprised to see Mr. Zsasz.
Zsasz sees them in a red and black world, their bodies mutilated as he sees how he’d kill them. Zsasz is taken to meet the Black Mask. They discuss how Black Mask is in Zsasz’ debt and that he will now be funding Zsasz to do whatever he wants. Black Mask’s first suggestion is that Zsasz get some new clothes.
We cut to Hush comeing home to the Elliot estate that he bought with Bruce’s money. Dick and Damian are there and greet him as several other men and women are there with them. The committee that Hush would have to approve his funds through are revealed to be the Outsiders as well as some members of the JLA. They toss Hush around a bit, threatening for him to keep his secrets and not keep draining funds or he’ll be in some serious trouble. As they leave Hush is very spooked.
On the drive home Damian asks Dick if Katana is seeing anyone. Dick jokes at him having a crush but Damian denies it. We end with Zsasz wearing new duds (looking spiffy!) after having killed his tailor.
The Good: Streets of Gotham is Dini’s best work in years. I am a huge Dini fan and already in these three issues he’s trumped his awesome run on Detective Comics and at the rate he’s going this comic just may be at the same level as Batman: the Animated Series of greatness. I know that’s a big thing to say but I’m seriously loving this comic so much. It’s incredible.
I’d have to say the best part of Streets of Gotham is the character work. Every character is so great here and written well. With a comic like this you have to have a good grasp on the characters since the plot can never be too big with this being more of a side comic. If the character work where to be weak, the comic would fail, but since the character work here is so strong Streets of Gotham is doing amazingly well.
I’d have to say the character he does the best with his Penguin. His somber narration and how it ties in to his bird obsessed character, while a tad cheesy, was so great. Dini really gave Penguin a strong voice here and made him stand out nicely. Usually Penguin is just given the “bah I’m sinister” treatment and not really made as all that interesting a villain. I hope Dini uses the character more in the series’ future.
While the twist of having Hush put on a leash was an odd way for Dini to go I still liked it. This way we can still have the character as an element to the Batman Mythos out in the open and doing something from time to time but at the same time he isn’t going wild and ruining everything. Dini made a smart move by doing this and showing that Dick isn’t afraid of bringing in friends for help.
Dini does handle Damian well enough. I do find it funny how Damian is just constantly eager to kill. I’m not so sure if that’s totally in his character but we got a funny moment at the end to show that he’s not completely one-dimensional. That he does have interests in things like girls. Now if only he could be interested in a girl that was in his league.
I do find it interesting how Hush is draining funds not by going on expensive vacations or buying hotels for the hell of it but actually helping Gotham while doing so. It’s an interesting twist for the character and actually a brilliant idea on his end. It’s a lot harder for Batman to stop something that’s doing good rather than doing evil.
Batman himself is more of a minor character in this comic, getting only a few moments and even when facing villains it’s only one part of a larger story. For some this may not work well and be frustrating, what with this being a Batman comic, but Dini makes it work where even though Batman is a side character, when he does appear it’s for more important moments rather than him just brooding to himself.
Hush of course is handled well with his suave casual smile and that personality that barely hides the more crazy violent man beneath it. I really like how Dini has taken Hush from a dumb crazy guy with no real reason for hating Batman to a much more credible and interesting threat. Dini has been using the character very well and has almost turned him into a pet character of sorts similar to Harley Quinn or Zatanna.
I liked the conversation between Zsasz and Black Mask. While I still don’t like Black Mask much it is interesting to see that he’s not stupid enough to pass up making some new allies in his take over of Gotham. Also it’s interesting that he’s using the Penguin’s bar as a hang out spot to meet people. I guess he’s just using his allies to the best of his ability.
Zsasz is a character I have never once liked. He’s always been used more for a one fight villain to try and do something big but fail horribly. He’s rarely been shown as a real credible threat nowadays to Batman and has devolved more and more over the years to more of a street thug type villain.
That being said this is the first time in a long while I’ve liked the character of Zsasz and been fascinated by him and how he acts. I especially liked the chilling sight into how he sees the world. Brutally mutilating everyone he comes in contact with such as stabbing Penguin in the eye and putting a small crater into Black Mask’s face. It’s really creepy and effective at making the villain finally feel like a real threat and more of a unique and scary villain.
Of course I have to mention Nguyen’s art. While he continues to have some issues I must say his art was definitely better this time around. Black Mask looks a lot better thanks to him not growing pupils magically out of nowhere and actually having a more consistent look to him. Also I must say Zsasz looked snappy at the end of the comic.
One moment especially that impressed me with the art was when Penguin was looking somber into his mirror. Nguyen perfectly captured the down and depressed villain but also did a great job with showing how he slowly picked himself up and was back to his grinning self once more. It was great and it worked perfectly well with the writing of this character.
In the long run there was a lot of great things about this issue but overall the character work wins out and I loved this issue was it was the best of the young series so far.
The Bad: Nguyen’s art as I mentioned had some issues. My biggest complaint was that there was weird shading again and there’s no better example then when the Outsider and JLA members where revealed. For whatever reason Firestorm’s face is hidden. I know it’s a minor complaint really but damn, what the hell happened? Did Fridolfs do that intentionally and why? No one else’s face is blacked out. Also Halo seems to be missing a face, but I figure that’s more on Nguyen then Fridolfs.
My best guess is that Nguyen isn’t all that used to handling such a wide cast of characters so he goofed a bit. I can be more forgiving since there where a lot of characters to handle on one page but I hope that this doesn’t become a reoccurring issue.
A more minor complaint for the story is that we didn’t get to see Hush pull out twin pistols and kick some ass. I was hopeful he’d do so but it seems not. Oh well, maybe later on in the series.
Overall: Streets of Gotham is a series I give very high recommendations. Despite the $3.99 price tag it’s a well worth it comic that shouldn’t be missed out by anyone who loves the Batman mythos and it’s wide array of heroes and villains. Dini and Nguyen are doing a masterful job being the streets of Gotham to life like never before.