Streets of Gotham
This cover is another fantastic and truly intense Requiem. This issue doesn't linger too long on remembering Robin, but it uses that scene to drive a lot of the underlying emotions carrying forward. And the moment itself, though short, is incredibly potent.
John Layman is.... just fantastic. This series is beginning to remind me of the PHENOMENAL Streets of Gotham by the incomparable Paul Dini. Layman's really making a lot happen here, and at times it's actually hard to figure out which plot is the 'main' one, but you being to feel the flow as it shifts each issue while driving the city around it as the underlying story. Batman is pulling one weed per issue, but somehow the garden always manages to keep the same amount of weeds. And yet, for the reader, it's not completely overwhelming. The events and characters are so complexly tied together, but Layman only makes enough unfold at one time that the readers can comprehend. It takes an incredibly talented writer to pull off this kind of delicate balance between excessive events and solid coherent structure.
In a way, this storytelling style gives you one of the deepest and most subtle looks into Batman's mind. There's not just one guy who's behind everything all the time. Most of the time it's just a constant deluge of villains and criminals weaving in and out of the fabric of the city, a neverending crusade that is always attacking on multiple fronts. This lack of a driving focus overall combined with the short term focuses one issue at a time is exactly the way Batman must think about these things in order to fight crime most effectively, and keep himself from going mad at the hopelessness of it all. Plus it makes for a unique reading experience.
Even though Layman is making the new 'Emperor Penguin' take full control, I'm impressed that he manages not to undersell the original Penguin, even as the new one completely dominates him. The Penguin is a foe truly not to be trifled with unless you've got things DAMN well planned out. It makes you respect both Penguins at the same time on completely different levels. And it's not just the Penguins that Layman gives props to, he's been tossing the rest of the Rogues Gallery in and out with expert interpretation. Truly this series is like a Gotham City Playset, and Layman knows exactly how to use all the toys whenever he wishes.
In Conclusion: 5/5
Oh and I didn't even talk about the artwork. Fabok's is dark and intense, Clarke's is more loose and creepy. Both serve their purposes extremely well. This series, with Layman, is perhaps the best of the $3.99 co-feature included books. They always serve to expand on the crazier aspects of whatever toys Layman's pulled out each issue, making an absolutely perfect compliment to the main story, instead of a loosely related second comic. The backups actually feel essential to the main narrative, even essential in their nature as backups.