Saturday, May 23, 2020

Batman: Gotham Nights #5 Review

Going Through the Motions

Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Ryan Benjamin, Richard Friend, Alex Sinclair, and Troy Peteri 
Cover Price: $0.99
Release Date: May 13, 2020

It's time for another Gotham Nights story by Mark Russell, and while I am still wondering how well these Digital First books are doing, I am enjoying them for the most part.  Sure, once the more important books start coming out each week, that may all change, but for now, it's an excellent alternative.  So, how is this one-shot issue?  Let's find out...

The story we get here is about a lawyer who isn't a lawyer, and a corrupt cop is not as big or smart as Russell thinks, but after reading a lot of what he has written up to now, that is par for the course.  We start with Cicero Jenks, a mob lawyer who never even passed the Barr exam.  That set up leads to his attorney-client privilege being null and void; thus, he can testify against the mob.  I think the bigger story is who the hell was asleep at the wheel while all these cases were happening.  No wonder bad things always seem to happen in Gotham!

I don't know if you are aware of this, but bad guys don't like getting in trouble, and the mob doesn't like former non-lawyers talking about their secrets.  So, they have hired a bunch of people to take Jenks out.  That is Batman's cue to get Jenks and escort him to Sergeant Foley, the one officer that Jim Gordon can trust.

My main issue is that there isn't ample room to make this story feel as big as I think Russell wants it too.  While we get the mention of professionals hired to take out Jenks, we only get Harley Quinn...and she doesn't do much besides causing a minor delay that didn't even feel like it fit naturally into the narrative and, Nightwing shows up only to be a twist at the end.  Worst yet, when Gordon announces there is a corrupt cop, you can't help but look to the one police officer we know by name.

In the end, Batman is a step ahead of everyone.  He punches and kicks his way out of danger and even uses a gadget or two.  Mark Russell checks most of the boxes from the Batman playbook, and the issue looks good, thanks to Ryan Benjamin's art.  Because of those things, this is a decent one-shot story.  However, the story never gets past being a surface level excuse for Batman to go through the motions.  I always enjoy seeing a writer getting a crack at Batman, and after a couple of issues, I think Russell understands the Dark Knight, but he hasn't shown me he has a unique and interesting story to tell with him.  He is doing a way better job with the Swamp Thing digital book, in my opinion.

Bits and Pieces:

Batman: Gotham Nights #5 is is a decent one-shot Batman story that is big on set-up, but light on the story.  Mark Russell has Batman go through the motions, and besides a couple of guest stars, there is nothing here you haven't seen a million times.  Ryan Benjamin's art is good, but in the end, it's easy to see why this is a repurposed 99 cent issue.


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