Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Batman: Gotham Nights #4 Review

Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Ryan Benjamin, Richard Friend, Alex Sinclair, and Troy Peteri
Cover Price: $0.99
Release Date: May 6, 2020

I have not been a big fan of the last couple of issues of Batman: Gotham Nights, so I was glad to see Mark Russell wrote this issue instead of that mysterious Michael Grey...whoever that is.  So, how is Mark Russell's one-shot Batman story dealing with the piece of shit elite of Gotham?

The issue begins with Bruce Wayne having lunch with some "friends" at one of Gotham's expensive country clubs.  They are drinking, laughing, and talking about illegally dumping chemicals and running human trafficking rings.  You know, guy talk.  Of course, Bruce doesn't have a lot of water-cooler stories to add, so he slips get in the cape and cowl and kick ass!

I don't mind seeing assholes get punched and kicked by Batman, but without knowing any of these guys more than their awful bragging, they come off as generic props all filling the Jeffrey Epstein/Harvey Weinstein spots that make for easy villains...because they are the dregs of humanity.  The real problem, though, is the lack of overall focus as Mark Russell continues.

After Batman takes down more of these guys' plans, Bruce gets thrown into jail with them to get more information and to stop the identity connection between him and his alter ego.  Then we get the Joker.  Russell forces the Clown Prince of Crime into the issue with a lame commercial that suddenly makes him a lawyer just in time for a jailbreak.  Okay, you can't throw the Joker into a comic and not have him get all the attention, especially when the other villains are so underdeveloped and cliche.  

The issue continues with Bruce using his smarts to alert Alfred where they are and the Joker being the wild card that he is... and then it ends with Batman philosophizing on the masks we all wear.  It was not a clever or satisfying ending to an issue that most readers will forget minutes after reading.

I did like the art in this issue and hope that Ryan Benjamin gets more work at DC Comics shortly.  If DC is listening, get him on something like Flash because I think his style would kick ass on a book like that.

Bits and Pieces:

Batman: Gotham Nights #4 is an issue with a lack of focus that sabotages what Mark Russell seems to want to do.  Throwing the Joker in the middle of a Batman issue is going to trump everything else going on, especially when what else is going on is pretty cliched and generic.  The art is good, and it is only 99 cents, so there is some value here, it's just fleeting and forgettable.


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