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Comic Book Review: Streets of Gotham #1 by Paul Dini, Dustin Nguyen, Marc Andreyko, and Georges Jeanty

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The premise of Streets of Gotham, another of the new “Bat” titles from DC Comics in the wake of Bruce Wayne’s departure from the role of Batman, piqued my interest immediately. First of all, I loved the idea of getting two stories in one book, but I don’t know how that’s going to affect the graphic novel reproductions of the stories, which I also dearly love. And, secondly, I really liked the idea of seeing the current Manhunter back in action. It remains to be seen if the back-up strip is going to be rotated or remain Manhunter.

With Dick Grayson under the cowl now, all the Batman stories will feel different. Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen start the party with “Ignition,” opening up with a Harley Quinn piece that brings her into contact with the new Batman and Robin for a tete-a-tete on the rooftops that is priceless.

Then the action goes out in left field for a while, building up another plot that (I assume) has nothing to do with the Harley Quinn bit. I was somewhat unsatisfied with the introduction of some vigilante with brass knuckles that left “Abuse” stamped across sexual predators’ heads because I have no idea where that storyline is going.

To top it off, the little girl he saves ends up getting injected by Firefly, a more powerful and motivated Firefly than we’ve seen in the past. The infected victims spontaneously combust and threaten to burn down Gotham City.

I like the art a lot. Nguyen provides a creepy atmosphere and generous panels filled with detail and perspective. He rolls the action out really well – looking forward to seeing more from him. Dini even gives him a whole page of action, building suspense without words, and Nguyen easily conveys the story.

Damian’s visit with Thomas Elliot in jail is another weird occurrence that isn’t fully explained. As all Bat-fans know, Elliot was Hush, a childhood friend of Bruce Wayne who became the Batman’s antithesis.

When the action takes back up again with the spontaneous combustions, it’s awesome stuff. The coloring is primarily red and is used to great effect. I loved the different perspectives Nguyen shows our heroes in. The splash page with Batman and Robin looking down on Gotham as it burns is chilling.

The Manhunter story lays a new cornerstone in Kate Spencer’s life. She’s served as an attorney and as a night-time street vigilante since acquiring the Manhunter staff and costume. Now those two careers seems to come together. Kate Spencer becomes Gotham’s new D.A. and the city’s newest costumed hero.

Marc Andreyko has been the scripter for Manhunter since Kate Spencer put on the mask, and he returns for the writing chores here. Georges Jeanty does a fabulous job with rendering Manhunter as a sexy bombshell and crime-fighter, and he brings Gotham City to life equally as well.

“Strange Bedfellows” primarily focuses on Kate Spencer’s rise to the D.A. position. I liked the interaction she has with Barbara Gordon as well as Commissioner Gordon. And I loved the speech she delivers to the media, throwing it out there for all the criminals in the city to come after her if they dare.

I didn’t like the idea of Kate moving away from her young son, but having two demanding careers as she does just doesn’t leave much time for the mom role. Still, I hope to see that dealt with and some real emotional hardships over these choices.

The flip-flop of past and present as Manhunter stalks the murderer of the previous D.A. during a rainstorm in Gotham is terrific. It brings the readers up to date with this latest wrinkle in her life – and the stakes she’s going to be playing for. I’m going to enjoy this run of stories and hope they last for some time to come.

Streets of Gotham is shaping up to be one of the best Bat-titles out there, but, right now, there just don’t seem to be any bad ones.

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