BATMAN #23 & #24

There once was a man named Alec, who had a thing which was shaped rather phallic. Yet little did he know, his phallic had to go, when his Misses found out that it's metallic. Or in other words, please check out the following two issues created by Tom King, Mitch Gerads, David Finch, and published by DC in June, 2017.

TO QUOTE Douglas Horton: 'While seeking revenge, dig two graves - one for yourself'.

On the surface issue 23 of Batman, aptly titled 'The Brave and the Mould', comes across as a fairly conventional murder mystery. One night, an unknown gunman climbs up the side of a building and kills a lonely old man who's situated on the 84th floor. But the strange thing about this; is that the victim's son is none other than Alec Holland, aka Swamp Thing, and despite wanting to know who killed his old man, in the same breath he doesn't seem emotionally invested in the task ahead.

You see, when Alec was five years old his father left him and his mother for a life of a lonely drunken recluse. Eventually he found himself living in an apartment block situated in Gotham City, spending most of his time either drunk, lonely, and finally... yes... dead, shot in the head two times by a person his son now wants to find. So in order for him to do this, Alec decides to team up with Batman so together they can track down this perpetrator before he kills again. 

So yeah, all in all I'd say that's the general arc for this particular one issue story-line: as a man dies, his son partly wants revenge, and from then on in things seem to flow as one would expect it to, Bang! Smack! Snoop! Pow! The end... ish. Yet, having said all that, the one thing that makes this story stand out from the crowd is the way in which it's filled with character, humor, as well as an emotional intensity I really wasn't expecting.

Now a good example of this can be found within certain scenes where each of the character's interact with one another in a comical yet relatable fashion. For instance, in one scene, Alfred kept on drolly sweeping up after Swamp Thing while he was having tea with Bruce at Wayne Manor (That splash page should be a poster, for sure). In another scene, at the start of the book, a shocked Jim Gordon seems overwhelmed by the sight of Swamp Thing when he magically arrives at the crime scene (see picture provided), only for Batman to then casually mention his name as he would anyone else. On top of that, I best not forget about my most favorite scene in the entire book, one where Swamp Thing asks Batman why he needs to drive a car, thus spurring him on to ask Swampy in turn, 'Why do you need a body?'. Ha! Great stuff, each and every aspect, and goes to show that a simple story can be amped up just by humanizing the characters involved.

Funnily enough, while I'm on the subject of a comic book being able to humanize their characters, this point nicely brings us onto the next issue of Batman, issue 24, which in all fairness, is a fairly enticing issue centered on a conversation between Batman and Gotham Girl.

After everything she's been through, like loosing her brother, her parents, and almost dying from an emotionally induced malady, Claire wants Bruce to give her some advice on what she should do next, such as continue being a superhero or live life like a 'normal person', where as he wants her to make her own decisions, whatever they may be. But, as the story progresses, and the more they discuss the numerous options available to Gotham Girl, inadvertently they end up talking about Batman's options as well, almost as if she's learning through his past experiences.

As many of us know, over the last couple of months Bruce has had a lot of personal issues to deal with, namely, seeing his dead father again (during 'The Button' story-line), as well as fighting off Bane while trying to cure Gotham Girl of her malady. Through this, he's had to come to terms with his status in life, coupled with the fact that his own internal conflict doesn't always serve in his best interests. 

Well, let's face it; I don't think any half decent parent would want to see their child dressing up as a flying rodent and fighting crime in their honor. Bruce knows this, yet he's unable to negate his compulsions because he's obsessed with his crusade… or is he?

Somewhat deliberately, the overall narrative for issue 24 is split into two separate scenarios. The first scenario is obviously centered on these two heroes having their two way discussion, while the second scenario is focused on another mostly silent scene (which presumably takes place later the same day) involving Batman pursuing Catwoman across the rooftops of Gotham, not the girl, the city. Eventually Batman catches up to his female friend and decides to… to… to... hmmm? Now how can I put this?

Well, I'm sure some of you have already seen what happens next via the official DC Comics website. Although, that said, I don't want to spoil how this issue gets resolved, just in case you haven't seen it yet. So, how about I insinuate how this issue ends via my conclusion; and in the meantime I can tell you what I thought about the art. 

Mitch Gerads, who was the artist for issue 23, did a splendid job illustrating this adventure. In many ways his bold depictions and cinematic layouts complimented Tom King's story in both style and composition. What's more, I did enjoy how he drew Swamp Thing -- all big, bold, and full of flowers -- as well as how he heightened certain characters emotions during the dramatic parts of the plot, mainly, the closing scene, which I don't want to elaborate on for the sake of spoilers.

In addition to this, I can also say the same thing about David Finch for his efforts on issue 24. Even though some of his layouts looked a little sketchy on the page (which I put down to the numerous inkers who were hired to ink it), at the same time I did like the contrasting images projected onto this two-sided tale, with Bruce's interactions with Selina coming across, bold, nuanced, and vivid, whereas his interactions with Claire were more subtler and humanizing in tone.

So yeah, on the whole these two issues of Batman were a surprisingly good read. Heck, the only negative thing I can say is that issue 24 had a late dispatch to the UK, thus causing it to arrive two weeks late.

To commemorate a possible future scenario involving two of the characters associated with these stories, I feel compelled, no, more than compelled, I feel it my duty to musically match them up to the following song.

Bat's and Swamp's! Sigh! Simply a match made in heaven, ha!

One of the central themes running throughout these two issues has to do with someone having to make a choice, be it to avenge their father's death or figure out what they want to do next. So, with that in mind, how could I not match these two episodes up with the careers advice service? After all, everyone needs a helping hand from time to time.

At the very end of issue 24, Batman asks Catwoman one simple question. So, for the sake of cake, let's see if you can guess what he asks her out of the following eight options? Could it be…

  1. Hug me?
  2. Kiss me?
  3. Cook for me?
  4. Exfoliate me?
  5. Marry me?
  6. Evaluate me?
  7. Judge me?
  8. Blow me?
Nuff said.

BATMAN #23 & #24 BATMAN #23 & #24 Reviewed by David Andrews on June 27, 2017 Rating: 5

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