At this point, I think it’s safe to say that “Batman: Streets of Gotham” isn’t going to be that different of an approach to a Bat-title than any of the others. For all the talk of it being through the perspective of other characters, after three issues it hasn’t felt like anything out of the ordinary. Fortunately, though, that doesn’t seem to really matter. Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen are using the new title to tell fun stories about Batman and Robin, and that’s not a bad thing.
This issue seems to wrap up the latest Hush story, and in a way that has an amusing solution to Hush’s attempts to wipe out the Wayne fortune by posing as Bruce and giving everything away. It’s a smart answer to the problem, and it’s wrapped up with the kind of ease that is almost Dini admitting that it shouldn’t have been any tougher for Dick to figure out a solution. The more interesting part of “Batman: Streets of Gotham” #3, though, is the return of Mr. Zsasz. I’ve always thought he’s been one of the creepier Bat-villains out there, perhaps because he’s rooted in reality rather than a super-gimmick or power. The scenes of Mr. Zsasz are the high point for Dini and Nguyen in this issue, as we get a glimpse into how Zsasz lives only to hurt others even as he marks off their deaths on his own skin. I’m hoping this dark look at the character continues on for a few issues, because I think Dini and Nguyen are showing the potential to tell a definitive Zsasz story and make him much more prominent in the rogue’s gallery.
Nguyen’s pencils are, as always, pleasant. His scenes of death and destruction courtesy Zsasz mesh well with John Kalisz’s colors for a disturbing moment, and are a reminder of what Nguyen’s capable of. What I always appreciate about Nguyen, though, is that while his art is stylized it’s also incredibly consistent. He understands anatomy, he doesn’t switch up his style from one page to the next, and it’s full of rock solid storytelling. A lot of artists could learn from him.
The Manhunter second feature from Marc Andreyko and Georges Jeanty is entertaining as always; this installment is more of an extended chase than anything else, but Andreyko still makes it fun. There’s some smart dialogue, a nice surprise or two, and I like that Andreyko plays with how the passage of time works in comics to provide a nice fake-out for the reader towards the end. While I’d be more excited to see a “Manhunter” monthly surviving on the stands, this second feature is not only fun but hopefully exposing all sorts of readers to what they’d been missing. It’s a satisfying conclusion to the issue, and a nice addition to “Batman: Streets of Gotham.” Well worth the extra dollar.