Written by Paul Dini
Art by Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs
Co-feature written by Marc Andreyko
Co-feature art by Georges Jeanty and Karl Story
Paul Dini having Thomas Elliot, aka Hush, impersonate the deceased Bruce Wayne and attempt to destroy him by basically giving away his entire fortune as the ultimate philantropist was a brilliant idea that sold me on this series with the reveal last issue.
This issue continues to play up that angle by showing the numerous donations and projects "Bruce" is dolling out money towards. My personal favourite was the purchase of the ACE Chemical Factory, rumoured birthplace of the Joker (depending on which origin we go with, he fell in the acid there), which is being remodelling into a card and novelty item company. The reporters all question the ability for such a venture to succeed, which Hush knows it won't - it will just waste more money, and Hush, in a confrontation with Batman and Robin even claims it's one big middle finger to the Wayne Legacy. Really, everything with Hush was easily my favourite parts of this issue, although the rest wasn't bad either, with one exception.
That exception, of course, is how Dick Grayson/Batman deals with Hush's impersonating of Bruce Wayne. He confronts him with a whole mess of other JLA'ers and friends and tells him, with Zatanna's magic, that Hush will have to get every dollar he spends approved by a board member, which would all be the JLA'ers magically disguised. He threatens him with this idea that the heroes will stop fighting crime and living their lives and baby sit Hush, which is ludicrous. Thankfully, it seems more of an initimidation tactic, but, still, Hush is a genius. I doubt he's one bit scared by this and it shouldn't deter him in the least.
On the non-Hush related positives, Zsasz was fleshed out quite a bit here. He's usually the one-dimensional villain rolled out for events or riots at Arkham and has very little personality outside he likes to kill. He still loves killing, of course, but Dini added some flair to him. I particularly liked the addition of Zsasz vision, as I'm calling it, where we see things through Zsasz's eyes, which ends up being every person on screen dead in various gruesome ways. Hopefully Dini doesn't just toss Zsasz to the side like he did with Firefly last issue after building him up in the first issue.
Penguin was another positive in this issue. I really liked Dini's interpretaton of him and how Hush's thoughts bled into Penguin's narrative. If Dini can seamlessly weave more of these types of interludes into the story, it could really take on a 'streets of gotham' type of perspective, which was the promised direction when the title was announced.
As for the Manhunter back-up, it was an eight page chase sequence. I enjoyed it, but it felt, well, light on content. If they collect these back-ups, yes, it will probably flow well with the rest, but, for whatever reason, I'm expecting a full 22-page story in these 8 page co-features. They don't have the ability to 'waste' pages on extended chase scenes in my opinion and should be opting to tell as much story as possible for the format they are given. In the end, it was a good sequence, but felt like fluff at the same time.
Verdict - Check It. Despite not liking how Batman and Robin handled Hush's usurping of Bruce Wayne's identity, this was still a very solid outing for Streets of Gotham.