By: Paul Dini (story), Dustin Nguyen (co-script & pencils), Derek Fridolfs (co-script & inks), John Kalisz (colors), Steve Wands (colors); Manhunter Back-up Story: Marc Andreyko (writer), Szymon Kudranski (artist), Nick Filardi (colors), Sal Cipriano (letters)

The Story: The Carpenter takes a starring turn in this arc and Manhunter tries to save her lost child.

What’s Good: For all the people who complain that there aren’t enough new characters in the DCU, here is one that is trying to make a go of it.  Paul Dini introduced The Carpenter a few years ago during his Heart of Hush storyline (at least I think that was her first appearance) and she has been popping up the Gotham City Sirens over the last year as a lady who pimps out villains’ hide-outs.  If you need clever traps installed to catch an investigating detective…..she’s your girl.

So, after wrapping up the Zsasz storyline than had been meandering for the last year, we get a wholly new arc that shows the Carpenter doing a little fix-it work for a mysterious film-director.  It is a fun little story and it follows up on some things that Dini has been doing in Gotham City Sirens.  When this series first came out it was billed as being about people OTHER than Batman and it is nice to see it playing up to that.  Dick Grayson does make a very brief (and effective) cameo in this issue, but it is a Carpenter story. Pay no attention to that really nice cover… Not much Batman in here.

I also enjoyed seeing Damien show up for a few pages as he did something nice for his new buddy, Abuse.  As much as I’m glad that Batman isn’t in this title all the time, I don’t mind Damien being here because I don’t think he gets enough time in the other Bat-books.

The art is typical Dustin Nguyen.  It is a distinctive style and I’ve gotten used to it and like it.  No screwy panels in this issue.

What’s Not So Good: First, I hope that no one buys Colgate products.  Let’s have a show of hands about who is annoyed by these stupid blow-in cards for Colgate products that are in all of the DC titles……

I didn’t think the writing was quite as crisp as normal when I read this comic and when I typed up the credits at the top of this review, I can see why.  Paul Dini is quite a good writer, but he is credited as coming up with the “story”, but he left the penciller and inker to write it.  I really like Dini as a writer, but the way he flits from project to project is a touch annoying.  Should you really get your name first on the cover for having the idea for the story?  Especially since this story is pretty simple.  On the other hand, I guess it is nice to see the artist try out their writing.

For the second month in a row, I’m also not enjoying the Manhunter back-up story.  This is really surprising to me because when this title has lagged in the past, the back-up is what saved it for me.  Not so much with this Manhunter’s lost child arc.

Conclusion: A pretty good issue that has a few flaws on the production side.  If you’re interested in checking out what is going on in Gotham besides Batman, this is the title for you.  Just don’t expect a consistent narrative month to month.

Grade: B-

– Dean Stell