Monday, September 6, 2010

Batman Streets of Gotham: Hush Money (Review)

Citizen's Grade: O.K.

After Bruce Wayne died saving the Universe from Darkseid in Final Crisis, a new Batman stepped up....Richard Grayson, the former Robin and Nightwing. With a new Batman came new Batman Titles, including Batman: Streets of Gotham. Written by Paul Dini with artwork by Dustin Nguyen.

Hush; unaware of Batman's demise, on the run after being beaten in the Batcave by Batman & friends, & having had his vast fortune stolen by Catwoman in retribution for almost killing her....decides to end it all on the bridge in Gotham where his parents were murdered (by him) so long ago. Plunging off the bridge into the depths below, he is content to seek their approval by following them to their watery graves. Destiny; however, has other plans.

Rescued by fishermen who recognize him as Bruce Wayne (Hush augmented his appearance to look like Bruce Wayne, part of a failed plan to steal away all of the Wayne Fortune after he killed Batman), he makes his way across the pacific to Australia and then Vietnam, liquidating Bruce Wayne's assets. He crosses the path of Catwoman, who has not forgotten what Hush tried to do to her (See: Hush Trilogy...Scavenger Review for more details). She has used Dr. Thomas Elliot's stolen riches to take control of a exotic and endangered animal racket. With Hush's help, she destroys the racket and gets away. Hush meanwhile is apprehended by Batman & Robin; in disguise, who were alerted to Hush's whereabouts by Catwoman.

Batman & Robin return to Gotham City with Hush, locking him up in Bruce Wayne's Penthouse suite.

When the Black Mask gained control of Gotham's underground, one of the first things he did was force loyalty from many of Gotham's supercriminals. Firefly was one of those criminals....but he has turned the tables on Black Mask, augmenting the toxic chemicals and microchip that Black Mask injected into him. Secretly injecting random Gothamites with his new formula, Firefly begins a terrifying rampage of spontaneous combustion. As Gotham City's citizens begin spontaneously bursting into flames, Batman & Robin are up to their necks trying to help the victims and figure out who is behind the attack.

Black Mask; meanwhile, has figured out who has orchestrated this event and confronts Firefly as to why he didn't ask permission first. Firefly & Black Mask's confrontation becomes violent, with Black Mask burning and trapped as Batman & Robin arrive. As Batman chases down Firefly, Robin is knocked unconscious by Zsasz, who saves Black Mask. Black Mask shows his thanks by giving Zsasz a large "donation" to sponsor a new "look" and his "dream" of hurting people.

Meanwhile, Hush uses this timely diversion to make his escape and reappear to all of Gotham as Bruce Wayne! As Wayne, he begins a seemingly sincere effort to revamp Gotham City using the vast resources of Wayne Enterprises. Batman & Robin are helpless to do anything without damaging the reputation and secret identity of their former mentor. They do; however, reel in his spending, bringing in the Outsiders as Wayne Enterprises' Board of Executives. With one of the Outsiders with Hush at all times, Batman & Robin go on the hunt for escaped convicts now back in society after Black Mask's bombing of Arkham Asylum and the subsequent escape of all it's inmates.

Dini & Nguyen do a good job with this volume, the first of the new Streets of Gotham series. With the announcement that after Bruce Wayne's return, the "Grayson-Batman" will be staying primarily in Gotham, which means that Streets of Gotham will be one of the "Grayson-Batman's" books. I've said in the past that the Dini/Nguyen team would have to impress me in order for me to keep spending money on volumes they produce, and they have impressed me with Hush Money.

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