Sunday, September 27, 2009

Batman: Streets of Gotham #4

So I've discovered a pattern here. The Bat-books that focus on the villains are still pretty darn strong.

Paul Dini spends most of this issue letting the reader get to know The Broker, the real-estate agent to the star-villains of Gotham City. Dini lays out a nice reason that there are so many giant typewriters and abandoned amusement parks in Gotham, back in its manufacturing boom; it was almost Vegas-like for entertainment. Now it's a cesspool of abandoned zoos and empty specialty shops. That's a darn cool idea. Dini really excels at these villain features, Broker is a scumbag, but even he has his limits. While setting up Mr. Zsasz in a meat-packing warehouse, he discovers that Zsasz is planning on some sort of gory show involving children. Zsasz's casual violence when one of the kids speaks up was chilling; Zsasz just says "one side" and stabs into a cage, pulling out a bloody knife when he's done. That's one cold dude.

I loved the idea that the Broker has given up info to Batman before. Dick Grayson (I need a quicker name for him as Batman. Maybe Nightbat or Batwing?) shows up demanding only the worst escapees from Arkham. He's willing to let some of the less-harmful villains slide for now so that he can nail the dangerous folks like Zsasz. Broker gives up the info, thinking about his own kids, and then takes a beating so that his clients will think Bats had to beat it out of him. The Broker is a fascinating and frankly likeable new character. I hope he's involved in the rest of this storyline.

Dustin Nguyen's work with Paul Dini has been strong since they teamed up, and this is no exception. His storytelling is clear and he does a nice job handling the variety of villains in the issue. His gloomy Gotham has a good, creepy feel to it.

The strong backup featuring Manhunter makes this one of the best values from DC these days. These two stories are well worth your $3.99.


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