Monday, June 29, 2009

Streets of Gotham #1

I don't understand the purpose of this comic. Is Paul Dini writing his own Batman story? This isn't a comic about the cops of Gotham like I thought it would be, there is a lot of Batman & Robin in here. The cops aren't handling normal villains, since the Firefly is the main antagonist (didnt' he die in Infinite Crisis?) It also seems Dini is picking up on his old plot threads from Detective Comics, including Tommy's incarceration and Bruce Wayne-lookalike status. So that leads me to think that this is just a continuation of Dini's Detective Comics run. An odd choice to spin that out into a new book while giving Batwoman Detective Comics.

In any case, there are some neat scenes involving a child runaway as she's "saved" from a horrible fate, only to have her tagged by Firefly to burn later in the issue. The most interesting bit was the way Batman had a trunk full of fire-extinguishing foam to help put people out that he could distribute to the police. I didn't care for Commisioner Gordon just letting Harley Quinn walk, but I'm a little fuzzy on her legal status these days, so maybe it isn't as crazy as it seems. I will admit I'm annoyed to see Battle for the Cowl even referenced by the Firefly. Just leave that new Black Mask and his implanted bombs out of the story. I'm also a little surprised to see Firefly creating tiny flame devices with a bug motif, I always thought he was just a pyro with a jetpack and wings.
Dustin Nguyen's pencils are very consistent. I'm not his biggest fan, but I appreciate the clear storytelling and the occasional inspired panel. He draws different faces well, making it easy to recognize folks just by appearance, which is nice.


Manhunter backup story
It was fun seeing Manhunter in Marc Andreyko and Georges Jeanty's Manhunter story. Her initial target is fairly generic (the murderer of the previous DA). I'm surprised to see Oracle so accepting of Manhunter's murderous ways, although admittedly they did glaze over that bit of their relationship in Birds of Prey. Andreyko's decision to use so many flashbacks made this first issue seem a bit disjointed, I hope he dials it back next issue. Jeanty's art is great when Kate Spencer is in costume, but out of it she doesn't have the tired eyes I associate with the character.



Artillery MKV said...

It seems like in current Batman books that only the stories that center on the Joker have any good writing at all. Is the Joker REALLY the only villain worth writing well in the Batman universe?
I just finished Batman RIP (no, not good at all) which was disjointed, had several elements that COULD have been very cool, but were badly bungled and the Black Mask plotline was simply stupid and poorly plotted. Joker was there, but more to sell books than actually make the plot any better.

By contrast I also just read the Man Who Laughs, yet another retelling of the Joker origin, but possibly the best I've read.

Timbotron said...

I've been meaning to check out Man Who Laughs, I need to read that.

I loved elements of RIP, but as a whole it didn't make a lot of sense.

Artillery MKV said...

RIP had a LOT of potential, and elements (like the batman back-up personality) that I'd LOVE to see a decent team take on, but it was soooo disjointed and poorly scripted that it seemed as if they'd been given a quota of certain characters to make appear and were wedging them in however they could rather than telling a cohesive story.

The Man that Laughed is excellent. THe back up story: Made of Wood, was fairly lame, but a good juxtiposition of an old-timy Green Lantern and modern Bats.

Just once I'd love some one to take on a reinvention of a character OTHER than the Clown Prince of Crime and make a good piece of work.

What if, for instance, Killer Croc was actually smart in addition to being really fast and really strong? How would Bats deal with a people eatin', criminal mastermind operating out of the sewers?

Complaints aside there are some things I love in the recent Batman universe: Riddler as a detective simply works better than Rids as a villain, and I was very surprised by that. Penguin as a behind the scenes manipulator rather than direct superbaddy is also a FAR better characterization.

Mart said...

I liked this book more than your good self, but you're right, this is The PD/DG Detective Comics rather than anything new. And I'm OK with that, if DC want to shove Batwoman into a prominent title, I'm good so long as it's great (which it is) and stuff I'm enjoying continues elsewhere. Which isn't to say I wasn't also expecting, and wouldn't enjoy, a Gotham cops book.

I did laugh at Firefly's Olde Time vilain habit of making his killer gimmicks entirely traceable.

I enjoy the Riddler-detective but I'd rather have a modernised traditional Riddler, a proper criminal. The Dini guy could easily be a new character for all the relationship he has to the regular Riddler.