Monday, January 24, 2011

Streets of Gotham #19 review

Streets of Gotham #19
Written by Paul Dini
Art by Dustin Nguyen, Derek Fridolfs, and John Kalisz
Lettering by Steve Wands
Published by DC Comics
Review by Lan Pitts

"Remember what Aristotle says, 'a common enemy unites bitter enemies.'" -- Tom Elliot, aka Hush

For the past twenty years, Paul Dini has more than penned great Batman stories; he's added to the overall mythos of the character. His and Dustin Nguyen's Heart of Hush arc from three years ago, remains one of my favorite Bat-stories of the decade. Dini and Nguyen and company may have caught lightning in a jar once again with the ongoing House of Hush arc.

The thing about this particular issue is that there is so much character depth added, that it makes the overall story that much enjoyable and lively. From Hush's past, to his ties with the Wayne's and the rise of his criminal factions, to even a scene that ties Thomas Wayne and John Zatara together, it's more fleshed out than how most comic writers handle Batman and company. Batman just isn't Bruce Wayne, Prince of Gotham. Batman is also about the city he protects and how each denizen has a thread that weaves a bigger web.

Streets of Gotham #19 gives a good deal of insight to the Anthony Marchetti character as Dini establishes more of the character's past and tells the story of a one-time encounter with Gotham's favorite clown, the Joker. Truth be told, this issue is more of a character piece that explores a little-known character and expands what we should know, adding to the criminal underground, and also adds to what we already knew: the Joker is bat-nuts crazy. There is not a single fight scene or action sequence. Just a story of a child that grew up in the crime business in Gotham, but still somebody who Hush considers valuable to align himself with. Batman (Bruce Wayne) doesn't show up until almost at the end, where the Thomas Wayne/Zatara scene comes into play.

This creative team is one of the best working in comics today. Dini never disappoints, and Dustin Nguyen is a workhorse that knows no limits. His use of painted art-deco backgrounds adds that extra bit of beauty that certainly makes it stand out. Derk Fridolfs inks over Nguyen's pencils are superb. I've seen others try to handle Nguyen's style, but none quite capture the angular look that Nguyen brings without looking jagged or too sharp. John Kalisz adds the perfect color pallet that complements both Nguyen and Fridolfs, but that's exactly breaking news, as he's another colorist who is always on top of his game.

With Streets of Gotham coming to a close soon, I'm sure the finale will deliver the proper curtain call that this book has deserved.

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