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Batman: Streets of Gotham #1 Review

5 min read

Gotham continues to fall into its own special hell as the forces of justice do their best to push it back.

What They Say:
As a new Batman rises on the streets of Gotham City, the heroes, villains and citizens take notice. How will the police feel about this new Batman, and can he control the crime in Gotham the way the old Batman did?

The Review:
I’ve long fallen out of the Batman books in general, mostly because the two main books proved to be uninteresting and convoluted a few years go with Morrison writing it. I didn’t care for the way he structured his stories or the visuals for it. I had been interested in where things were going to go in the last year in a world without Batman, especially as I really enjoyed the standalone Robin book, so when this series hit the ComiXology distribution, I decided to check it out as I generally like Paul Dini’s take on the Batman family of characters. They haven’t exactly made it easy to catch up on who is doing what at this point, but it comes down to the simple things that Dick has taken on the role of a harsher Batman and Damian as his Robin. What Dini does here though is to take us a bit away from the bigger characters for the most part and turn the view a little differently, to good effect.

The last Batman related book that I found myself enjoying was Gotham Central, something this has a slightly similar feel to. It’s intent is to look at the world of Gotham City from the street level view, hence the name, and let us see how Batman and Robin among others look from the side of the police, the criminals and the bystanders. The opening issue has us seeing how Harley Quin, having been out of jail just recently, can’t catch a break as she’s in a jewelry store and intends to spend money, but ends up in a lot of trouble as her reputation precedes her. You certainly can’t blame anyone based on her extensive past as she gets upset over being profiled, since she has paid for her crimes and is actually there to spend money. When Gordon comes along to deal with it, he finds himself really unable to do anything about it, even if she has been more aggressive than needed. With Arkham destroyed and Gotham Central burned down, they can’t really keep her anywhere for such a minor thing. Yet Batman does have an appropriate way of dealing with her that shows us that Dick is just as serious as Bruce yet has a slightly different edge to him.

The main thrust of this issue focuses on Firefly, always an odd second stringer at best over the years, who like other criminals feel emboldened after the lack of Batman around for awhile and the other events that have happened in Gotham. While he’s doing spot work for Black Mask which gets him some cash and respect, he’s been working a much more interesting angle in trying to bring the city down to ashes since it’s so corrupt and deplorable. Through casual interactions with many people in the city, he’s embedded chips in them that will cause them to combust upon command, which can cause a whole lot of chaos and a lot more fires. He comes across as a much darker and more intent man in this story so far, something he hasn’t really felt like in a lot of other ones or the animated appearances. It’s been easy to write him off, and while he’s easy to pinpoint as the culprit here, he at least comes up with a reasonable plan to achieve his goals, though he could have gone much bigger with the scale.

While the co-features haven’t been popular with a lot of people, I was really thrilled to see that this one had the Manhunter feature as written by Andreyko. The Manhunter series was one of a precious few that I bought in floppies for a few years ago and adored it and supported it through its revival. Kate has taken an interesting role here by coming to Gotham to serve as the interim district attorney after the assassination of the previous one. Her role as a lawyer for both sides of the meta community has put her in some interesting positions before but combining that with Gotham and the way the city is after all the recent events regarding Batman has a lot of potential. I particularly like the way that Barbara Gordon plays into it with her new found sense of dealing with criminals and how it could have changed the lives of many. The character of Kate Spencer combined with Gotham has a lot of potential and in just a few pages they still manage to tie things well to her previous series with her family and how to make it all work.

Digital Notes:
This Comixology edition of Batman: Streets of Gotham leads with the Dusting Nguyen main cover and then follows up with the J.G. Jones alternate cover. With the variant included in here as it would be with a trade paperback release, it’s definitely a welcome value added piece for digital fans rather than making us choose between two editions to buy, a practice I do not like as I’ve seen it done elsewhere.

In Summary:
I really enjoy the Batman family of characters but it’s been difficult to find a book that I can enjoy in the last few years. With all the changes and the loss of the three books that I liked with Gotham Central back in 2006 and then losing both the long running Robin and Nightwing series, I didn’t know where to really go as I wanted to avoid the main books written by Morrison. With Batman: Streets of Gotham, I think I’ve found a series that I can get into as it deals with the more human side of Gotham, the various criminal elements and the police. The co-feature with Manhunter is right up my alley as well as I’ve long liked that character in its different forms, but especially the Kate Spencer one. I’ve not read a Batman book for some time now, but this is one that I really want to get into and savor.

Grade: B+

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