Gotham City has a thousand stories. Most of the time, we’re privy to those being told from the very top; those featuring some malevolent force brought down by the dynamic duo. Occasionally, we’re given a glimpse into how the other half live. Batman: Streets of Gotham #12 is one of those as we get a look at the ne’er-do-well’s handy-man, Jenna Duffy, a.k.a. The Carpenter.
Previously in Batman: Streets of Gotham: As a member of the Mad Hatter’s Wonderland Gang, Jenna Duffy was awarded the character of The Carpenter, not only because her curvy good looks complemented the Walrus, but because she could really swing a hammer. When that gig fell through, she earned a living building and remodeling the lairs of super villains in and around Gotham City. Business is good, but not that good, which means The Carpenter is always looking for a new gig.
This issue finds Duffy on the short end of a paycheck, hustling pool in one of the seedier dives in Gotham. When Batman breaks up the fun, Duffy ends up in a limousine with an offer she just can’t refuse. There’s a new criminal in town, and he needs new digs. The new big bad is using film as his modus operandi, and has chosen the moniker The Director. It isn’t the time we’ve seen a villain with a film fetish who thinks he can bring down Batman, but this is the first time we’ve seen someone who wants to make super snuff films – realistic deaths of the superheroes captured on film for the indie crowd.
Duffy spends the bulk of the issue building all kinds of traps in the run down Monarch Theater. Throughout the story readers learn a bit more about what makes Jenna tick, and I really like when we get a closer look at those who want to kill Batman. Duffy isn’t one of those characters that has a short in her brain, or some psychosis that causes her to do bad, she’s just a girl who got the short end of the stick, and found her calling in a life of crime. Dini does serve up some nice character development, and a story that has a lot of set-up here, and I like it when we’re given this opportunity to see what makes people behave the way they do. Granted, there’s not a lot of sleuthing or Batman action going on, but I think that is the point of this series, and in Dini’s hand, it works.
By issue’s end, Duffy discovers she’s been cut from The Director’s cast, and she’s going to need to think fast to get out of the theater alive. On the one hand, I want her to survive, but on the other hand, having her actually die at the end of the arc, might just put some perspective on those that decide to go down the path of bad. Of course it would only take an editor to bring her back, but still, having her get her comeuppance would be an interesting.
CAN YOU REALLY PRAISE DUSTIN NGUYEN ANY MORE?
The one-two combo of Paul Dini and artist Dustin Nguyen makes for a damn fine Batman book. Nguyen once again serves up a great combination of detailed environments of great characters. Nguyen’s style isn’t ideal for cheesecake pin-ups, but he still able to draw attractive men and women no matter how they’re built or how they look. Duffy is a great example, but Nguyen also creates a great character in the skinny, scummy Director character. He oozes large amounts of disgusting grease in every panel he’s in, and he’s definitely not a character readers will take a liking to.
BOTTOM LINE - CHECK IT
I know a lot of readers don’t like stories that don’t prominently feature someone running around in a cape and tights smacking the crap out of every Joker, Penguin, or Two-Face out there. This is certainly one of those issue. But, if you like insight into what makes a character do the things she does, and if you like incredibly awesome art, then Batman: Streets of Gotham #12 is worth checking out. I enjoy pretty much anything Paul Dini writes, and Dustin Nguyen draws, and Streets of Gotham is something I look forward to each month, earning 4 out of 5 Stars.