This month’s issue of Batman: Streets of Gotham jumps straight into the action, and so shall we. Hush’s recently acquired mob squad has led him to the lair of Dr. Death, whose efforts to mercilessly kill them all are quickly thwarted. Hush strong arms the masked villain into his employ, and his plan to murder Bruce Wayne finally starts to pick up some steam. While this is all an improvement from last week, it’s actually out-shined by a mostly unrelated flash back to the Joker’s early years in Gotham. In it we get to see him be both charming and terrifying, which makes for a very fun (and grisly) diversion from the main plot. On a personal note, this is actually my preferred interpretation of the Joker. While there’s something to his whole fourth wall breaking, alternately aware soldier of chaos shtick that seems to be in vogue these days, I just like watching a psychopath use clown props to murder people. It’s simple and elegant in its monstrousness. At the end of the day, what this all amounts to is that Paul Dini is finally starting to deliver again on his writing duties. He even manages to make the presence of Bedbug seem relevant to the plot, which is more than I expected him to do.
Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs are in top form this issue. Beyond just delivering their usual quality of work, it feels like they’ve used a greater variety in their inking styles and body details. Special mention goes to Dustin’s cover art, which puts the Joker front and center. I also give him bonus points for continuing to show a clean, stylish Joker, like he did on the cover of the giant issue of Batman last year. Originally I thought Dustin was continuing to put his own stamp on the character, but in the context of the Joker’s early years it is actually very accurate.
I was surprised when I realized there was no Ragman back up feature in this issue. I wasn’t exactly looking for it, but I would like to see his story continue. This is definitely an improvement over last month, now it’s just a matter of maintaining this level of quality.
Batman: Streets of Gotham #19:
Reviewed by Erik