After a two issue break, Paul Dini returns to Streets of Gotham to continue his Mr. Zsaz storyline and provide us with a characterization of the under used Humpty Dumpty. Dustin Nguyen continues to be one of the most consistent artists currently lending their talents to the bat-books. However, while the art remains solid, the plot continues to leave us with the question I continue to ask; Why?
Paul Dini’s return continues the inconsistencies that were present when he originally started the title. My main problem with Streets of Gotham in general is; why is this title being published? I do not question Dini’s ability to write the characters, I question Dini’s ability to write a plot that carries any significance. The problems with Dini’s plot become more apparent inside the pages of Streets of Gotham number seven.
Issue number seven kicks off on Christmas Eve, where we find Batman and Robin rescuing citizens from a disastrous car crash in which the car is about to explode. After this sequence, I am at a complete loss with what comes next. We then are introduced to Humpty Dumpty, who is sporting the Santa Claus costume. He is stranded a cold and snow-covered street in Gotham, where he is fixing his snowmobile. Humpty Dumpty then has the pleasure of meeting the Abuse character that has yet to hold any significance in this book. This is where the inconsistencies in the story and art begin; after Abuse and Humpty Dumpty exchange words about missing children, Abuse decides he is going to pick up a car, in which we receive no explanation for this action. Abuse apparently puts the car down where Humpty Dumpty hits him with a crowbar. Humpty Dumpty then hops into his vehicle and proceeds to run Abuse over. I feel that the Dini and Nguyen do a poor job in executing this portion of the story. After the confusing panels of nonsense, Humpty enters an abandoned orphanage where we see “sleeping” children. Humpty opens up a sack of toys and distributes them to the “sleeping” children. Batman and Robin appear and explain that after talking with the Broker, they were able to figure out where Humpty Dumpty’s hideout would be. After questioning Humpty Dumpty’s scheme they learn that all of the “sleeping” children are actually dead. Things start to look terribly gloomy for Humpty Dumpty. However, Humpty Dumpty explains that the children were already dead when he found them. He explains that he felt bad that they died so close to Christmas that all he wanted was to give them a Christmas. Batman and Robin believe Humpty Dumpty because he is not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed. We learn that Abuse has been listening the entire time and we follow him back into an orphanage in which he is spotted by a nun. She follows him into a room where we see there is no one else but a young boy. The boy denies ever seeing anyone enter his room and the nun leaves him to sleep. However, behind the door, sitting on a chair is Abuse’s hat and jacket. This also left me confused. What is Paul Dini insinuating? Anyway, we learn of the true person responsible for the dead children, Mr. Zsaz. He has been children fighting in a “fight to the death” tournament, in which the winner will have the liberty of fighting Mr. Zsaz for their freedom. The issue ends with two boys about to begin their battle.
The Manhunter is a rather quick story, which made me question why Manhunter was on the cover. Basically, Kate Spencer goes to visit Dylan Battle, where he explains that it is Two-Face and not Black Mask who Dylan has been working for. Anyway, after Kate and the cops leave, Two-Face enters Dylan’s room in an attempt to do away with Dylan. Kate hears a crash from Dylan’s room and quickly changes into the Manhunter costume. She confronts Two-Face and attacks him which leads them to falling out of a hospital window. They begin to spar but are interrupted by Batman and Robin. Batman briefly states that they are there to start here. And the co-feature ends on a cliffhanger.
My main problem with this issue in particular was that while Dini continued to write good characterizations, which we have come to expect, his plot does not make any sense and, I found to be somewhat disturbing. I don’t understand why Mr. Zsaz is having children killing each other only to end up fighting him. I just don’t see the point. I also felt there are certain points in the story that he does not provide any explanation are does not elaborate further. And I still do not understand the point of the Abuse character. What is his purpose? Only time will tell.
Dustin Nguyen remains consistent and his visuals do not disappoint. However, because of Dini’s poor plotting, Nguyen is forced to provide us with some extremely confusing panels. The art remains excellent.
I feel that the Manhunter co-feature has been the highlight of the Streets of Gotham series. If I had my way, I would make Manhunter an ongoing series and make Streets of Gotham the co-feature. More happens in the twelve pages of Manhunter then the twenty eight pages of Streets of Gotham. Marc Andreyko keeps me intrigued and spikes my interest with the arrival of Batman and Robin.
Jeremy Haun has been the usual artist on Manhunter, but fill-in artist Cliff Richards stepped in to take over pencils for number seven. While Richard’s pencils are not nearly as nice as Haun’s, his art did not detract me from the story. I really was not bothered by Richard’s work.
Overall, Streets of Gotham continues to raise the question; Why? I still see no reason to read this book unless you want good written characters and a poorly plotted and pointless storyline. The highlight of the book is the co-feature, which should never be the case. I say skip it and unless Dini cleans his’ mess up, don’t concern yourself with this book.
Batman: Streets of Gotham #7:
Reviewed by Zfactor