Once again, the DC Comics solicits have lead us astray. No you say? Unfortunately, yes. While we all could have expected the latest issue of Streets of Gotham to be the second part of Mike Benson’s two part arc, the solicits said otherwise. The previews stated that Paul Dini would be returning to the title, however, he didn’t. None the less, Benson pens the conclusion to the “Hardcore Nights” storyline.
Some fans may be disappointed with issue number nine, but not me. Benson doesn’t present the reader with a major villain and the Commissioner Gordon plays a major role. Basically, issue nine is just a downright good Batman crime story. However, while I thoroughly enjoyed this issue, Dick Grayson’s characterization is completely out of whack. First off, I get the strange feeling that Benson initially wrote this with Bruce Wayne as Batman; the dialogue that Dick speaks is very “Bruce like”. Dick displayed a very dark and less optimistic personality, qualities that fit the Bruce Wayne personality. The only other problem I had with issue nine is that the antagonist is revealed rather sudden and everything just comes to a end to quickly and conveniently. This is just my opinion, why don’t you decide after reading the issue summary:
The issue opens where issue eight left off; Dick and the escort are in the penthouse when the armed man busts through the door. Benson pulls a classic trick; issue eight led us to believe that the armed man was the jealous boyfriend. However, Dick soon learns that this is not the boyfriend, but someone completely random. The hunter smacks the escort and demands Dick’s wallet. Throughout this sequence, Dick is studying the man’s movements. The hunter keeps a gun pointed on Dick the entire time when the escort makes a remark distracting him. This gives Dick just enough time to land a knee right to the man’s face. The hunter becomes completely disoriented and eventually becomes unconscious. The escort quickly exits the room and makes her way out of the building. As she is running, the doorman, Anthony asks her if everything is ok. Remember Anthony because he plays a much larger role, later in the issue. Anyway, at police headquarters, the hunter, whose name is Sal, is being questioned by Commissioner Gordon and Batman. Sal is hesitant to talk at first, but soon Batman “persuades” him into singing. Batman and Gordon then bring in the escort, Sophia. We learn that Sophia and Sal have been blackmailing the same men who have been found murdered. Sophia would take them back to the room and then Sal would barge in and scare them. They accuse her of killing the men but she pleads her innocence. Gordon demands a name from her, and she gives the name of her ex-boyfriend, Roland Davis. Batman knows she is innocent and tells Gordon to let her go. Reluctantly, Gordon agrees, but there is a twist. Sophia is dropped off back at the penthouse and then heads back to work. She runs into him in the club and is shaken up by this. She heads home and upon entering in the elevator, Roland enters and begs her to take him back. Anthony then enters and takes control of the situation. Roland learns of the set up and seems to feel differently about Sophia now. Gordon enters the elevator and arrests Roland. In the interrogation room, Roland receives some tough love from Gordon and Batman, but maintains his innocence. Gordon and Batman know they can’t hold Roland for long and decide to take another crack at a set up, with a twist. Back at the night club, we see Sophia sitting with another man, who remains hidden. They leave the club and then head for the penthouse. Two hours later, the man exits the penthouse alone. He begins walking down the sidewalk when we see a large figure approach him. The man turns down an alley and sees the dead body of Roland Davis. The man is shocked by this and we learn that it is none other then Gordon. Gordon then is confronted by Anthony with a knife in hand. Anthony attacks Gordon but Batman is there to moderate the situation. Anthony turns out to be the killer, SHOCKER! Gordon informs Sophia that it is over. Gordon takes Sophia to the bus station, buys her a bus ticket, and tells her to leave and begin a new life. And that’s where the issue ends.
The Manhunter co-feature opens with Manhunter beating the snot out of a low level thug looking for answers she knows he doesn’t have. The issue then cuts to the court room, twelve hours earlier. Dent asks for a bench trial because of his horrid facial features. This leads to Kate asking the judge the relieve himself of the case. This upsets the judge and grants Harvey his request. Court is adjourned and rescheduled for Thursday. Back in Los Angeles, Kate’s son, Ramsey, has decided to head to Gotham to help his mother and is riding in the boxcar on a train. We then cut back to when Manhunter is beating up the thug when she is confronted by Huntress. Huntress offers Manhunter her help in finding something to bring Dent down. We cut to Thursday, back in the courtroom. In the courtroom, Harvey is outwitting Kate and then Commissioner Gordon is called onto the witness stand. Dent asks Gordon why he would have kept him alive if Gordon knew that Dent killed the district attorney. This upsets Gordon, and Kate knows she is in for a roller coaster ride. To be continued…
This past story arc impressed me. I think Mike Benson is a writer with a strong future in comics. He seems to have that gritty style that I so often enjoy. However, how obvious is it that Anthony is the killer? Once he is introduced, the reader automatically knows that he has a major role. None the less, I could dismiss this simple storytelling method. What I could not dismiss, was the poor characterization of Dick Grayson. It wasn’t that Batman was portrayed poorly; it was that this was written to be the Bruce Wayne Batman. This becomes very apparent in the interrogation scenes; Batman is threatening and isn’t planning on taking any prisoners. Dick isn’t Bruce, which is something that, I guess Benson doesn’t understand. However, issues eight and nine are exactly what I want from Streets of Gotham. Good stories that don’t always have to contain a large number of characters. I thought it was great to see Gordon take such a larger role in a story, it seems that recently; Gordon has taken a back seat in the other titles. It’s always good to see a writer stress the importance of Gordon’s character. Bravo, Mike Benson!
Of course, Dustin Nguyen remains to be impeccable and always impressive. I will say that Nguyen surprised me with his ability to pencil such a grim and gritty story so effectively. Derek Fridolfs is consistent as always. Fridolfs seems to be lost in the shuffle sometimes and I think he is just as important to this title as Dustin Nguyen is. But the art is great as always and leaves me with no complaints.
The Manhunter co-feature I found to be a little disappointing. This story felt like filler and not much progressed in the storyline. When you have so few pages to tell a story, Andreyko needs to keep the ball rolling. Needless to say, I am still interested to see where this is all going and I expect a better performance from Andreyko in the upcoming issue. Jeremy Haun is much like Dustin Nguyen, perfect. He art works so well with the Manhunter character and he maintains his consistency.
Overall, I found Streets of Gotham number nine to be an enjoyable read from front to back. While the issue felt a little rushed, I must say I am not missing Paul Dini and hope Mike Benson is giving some more batman-related work in the near future. The book’s art remains candy for the eye and is about the most consistent of any of the bat-books. In the end, if you enjoyed issue eight, you will not be disappointed with issue nine.
Batman: Streets of Gotham #9:
Reviewed by Zfactor