Streets of Gotham has been a favorite of mine for the last few months. Improving upon various characters such as Firefly and Zsasz. With this being Dini’s last issue before a 2 month break where Chris Yost writes an arc I was hopeful that Dini could leave us off on a strong note until he returns in December. Let’s find out if this issue was that.
Writer: Paul Dini
Artist: Dustin Nguyen
Inker: Derek Fridolfs
Colorist: John Kalisz
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: We open to Bruce Wayne (Thomas Elliot in disguise) talking to someone about his latest donation. The man he’s talking to chuckles and “Bruce” deduces that it’s Creeper. He is not happy about it. Bruce donates money several places of worship (that’s how he writes it at least) and he thinks how he is sick of being a puppet under the hero’s keeping an eye on him.
A young boy is walking around the lonely streets of Gotham when he is approached by a young man. The young man talks about finding him shelter when the boy is knocked out and taken away in a car. The young man calls someone (I’m presuming it’s Zsasz) saying they’ve got another one.
A man in a limo soon begins to narrate to himself. He talks about potential hideouts for the Joker as he soon sees Great White Shark having his thugs beat up a banker. He then blows the banker’s brains out as the man called the Broker has a seat soon after the body is carried away.
As Great White threatens the Broker since he wants a finder’s fee of the yacht his men are all shot dead by the Broker’s body guard, Max. (I count several headshots, someone’s been playing the new Halo game it seems) Great White has the sniper red dot on his forehead. He smirks and calls the Broker a maniac and pays him.
Broker narrates how he loves this town even though most people don’t. He thinks back at how Circus’ used to be a booming business in Gotham. How there are tons of old unused amusement parks that closed down. He thinks back at how he started selling off this property to super villains for lairs.
Broker is interrupted by Max but he stops for a moment and removes his sunglasses. He says he’s trying to take his mind off this meeting. He mentions how this is just business and his bodyguard agrees. That the only reason they killed those goons was for protection.
He gets out of the car and says he doesn’t want to know what goes on in those lairs. Max says he knows the way Broker operates. Broker says the Joker is a nut but he finds what he needs and he’s happy. He mentions other villains like Catwoman and Mad Hatter then says “this guy” (referring to Zsasz) is the one person who makes him feel dirty about his job. (Seeing as the Joker tossed a baby, a woman caught it, he then shot the woman dead, that’s gotta haunt you a little I’d figure)
Broker walks in and greets Zsasz as Victor. He is corrected and told to call him Mr. Zsasz (looking sharp and an awesome name, can’t blame him) Broker goes over the place about it and Zsasz is pleased. Zsasz has Broker paid as his men are carting in pens with children in, Broker thinks to look away that it’s none of his business. When a child reaches out to Broker Zsasz stabs him and Broker leaves.
Broker is back at his office when Batman arrives. He mentions how Batman is the only person who found out his real identity. He calls in Max but Batman informs him that Max is “talking” with Robin. We see Max knocked out on his desk with Robin reading a real estate book mentioning how over priced a house is.
Batman wants the lairs of Two-face, Zsasz and Killer Croc. Broker refuses but he thinks how Zsasz had kids in those pens. Broker thinks about his kids and throws Batman some cards. The cards try to zap Batman (not sure what happened there) Broker says it’s not personal, Batman tells him it is now. Batman (off panel) beats the crap out of Broker and flies off as Broker thinks about how in Gotham you have to bend and bleed.
The Good: Dini continues to impress as Streets of Gotham is one of the best comics on the stands right now. Even though Batman only appeared in the last few pages Dini proves that Gotham City is an interesting place on it’s own, not needing Batman for every interesting story.
The Broker is a very interesting character with solid narration and great development. I believe he’s brand new but if he isn’t then this is the first time I’ve seen him and he’s a great character. Dini doesn’t hold back on developing him fully through the entire issue and making him an interesting character.
Character narration can either be good or bad with some writers. In a lot of cases narration is often used to fluff the comic and add extra reading time but really it goes nowhere. Not giving us anything interesting from the characters and boring us. Dini handles inner narration well and he uses it to his advantage to develop the Broker.
Mostly it’s just how he interacts with the villains that makes him such a great character. He knows these people are heartless animals that kill for giggles but that doesn’t stop him from being respectful and business like. It’s almost eerie and I can’t tell if Dini is painting Broker as a villain or not.
On one side he deals with villains and for a fee gives them homes. Protecting murderers and monsters. On the other hand he clearly doesn’t like protecting villains as it’s all for the sake of money and he himself says it never is personal. I think the moment that defined him most was his dislike for Zsasz and how it makes him feel dirty working for him.
Zsasz is one of the more creepier Batman villains, and that’s saying something, so it makes sense that Broker would hate to work with him. Even as he sees children being carted to their deaths (I can presume) he has a hard time dealing with it. This shows Broker is not just a cold hearted guy who doesn’t care about others. Even for the sake of his business.
Also the way he reacts when thinking about those kids later with Batman. He seems to want to stop Zsasz but at the same time he’s a business man and there’s nothing more unprofessional then selling out your clients. Seeing him not give Batman the information was an interesting twist showing that for as much as he wants to sell out Zsasz, Broker is a loyal guy.
I can’t tell then if I should like or dislike Broker. On one hand he protects criminals which is a villain thing to do but on the other he doesn’t really like it. Dini makes him more of a character that we can choose if we like him or not. He’s not like a straight up good person or bad guy, he’s someone that the readers can determine on their own sense of morality and that’s something you don’t really see a lot in comics.
It was also nice seeing Great White Shark again. He’s been a hit or miss villain at times and rarely makes big appearances nowadays. He’s a villain I like so seeing him again was nice for me.
The plot of Broker selling villain hideouts also cleared up some left over stuff from Battle for the Cowl. Explaining where some of these villains are hiding after Arkham was destroyed and I liked that. It was nice seeing some loose plot threads tied a bit.
What really made this issue shine for me was how Dini was able to make such a great story. All around one guy and his history with Gotham and it’s criminal underworld and tying it deep into the history of Gotham and all the while Batman is not the main character. Batman had a larger role in the last 2 issues so seeing him here take the backseat again was nice.
I am loving how Dini is able to have this be a Batman book even with Batman only as a side character in it. He’s more like a spirit or a force of nature at this point compared to other characters who feel more real and important to the story. Batman is the element to Streets of Gotham rather then it’s main character and it works out incredibly well.
I did love the comment about Zsasz wanting to be called Mr. Zsasz now. It was awesome. Dini has done a good job of polishing up Zsasz a character who honestly was fairly bland and in my opinion only good for being really creepy. He’s really turned him into a more interesting threat to Batman. Also he looks sharp on those clothes and it’s a new look I rather like.
Dustin Nguyen’s art has had it’s ups and downs through the young series. Shading issues and some weird character moments but by the 4th issue it seems he’s comfortable and doing a great job. The shading worked much better this time and creating the proper atmosphere as it should and he did a great job with the character work especially with Zsasz and the Broker.
Of course I’ve mentioned it every other time so I should mention it again that the coloring looks great. Kalisz really works well with Nguyen and this is a great looking comic both for it’s stellar unique art and beautiful color works.
I did like the quick moment with Hush as he continues to be written well under Dini. Also his inner narration fit well and for a moment I almost sympathize with him. Free yet not really, not able to really do all you want and under the thumb of all these heroes. Dini almost makes me feel as if I want to root of Hush to go crazy again and forget all about impersonating Bruce Wayne.
The one moment that I laughed was the scene of Robin with the body guard. Dini used more subtle humor in not really giving us any punch line just giving us a funny scene that readers can identify as funny. It was hilarious for me and the subtle humor used was great.
Overall Dini is giving Streets of Gotham a noir twist to a dark and twisted city that’s really working well. Along with great moody and unique art is making for an excellent comic.
The Bad: I had one minor complaint with this issue and that was how Zsasz didn’t really do anything major. Sure his conversation with the Broker was great but other then that Zsasz doesn’t do anything. The cover made it seem like there was going to be a fight with Zsasz or at least that Zsasz would be an important character to this issue and have a larger role.
This also bugs me because we didn’t see any Zsasz vision. An awesome addition to the character that Dini made last issue when he was meeting with Black Mask at Penguin’s club where he sees people he meets brutally murdered. It was creepy as all hell and I loved it so I was disappointed that we didn’t at least get one shot of it on the Broker.
Overall: Originally I thought Streets of Gotham would best be sold as a comic for Dini fans only. Now I’m seeing this as a comic that anyone who loves the wide Gotham mythos and it’s deep character history should absolutely not miss out on this amazing comic. It’s the best current Batman ongoing in my opinion and in no way should be missed.