Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Batman #23 Review


In the Afterlife...

Written by: Tom King
Art by: Mitch Gerads and Clayton Cowles
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: May 17, 2017

This is the issue that was supposed to come out earlier, but was replaced by the Rooftops arc that gave Catwoman more development leading into the I am Bane story.  I understand the reasoning, but at the time, this Batman/Swamp Thing crossover issue was cancelled and that bummed me out.  I love Batman and I love Swamp Thing and who could pass up these two great tastes that taste great together?!?  The answer...nobody!  So, I was so excited to hear we would eventually get it and it seems "eventually" is now.  So, was it worth the wait?  Let's find out...


The issue starts with what is now a very standard for Tom King stories...the nine panel page.  It looks fantastic thanks to Mitch Gerads and is just a well setup, intriguing start to an issue.  After seeing an unsettling murder and it's aftermath, we see this is going to at least start as a detective story and I am all for that.

Jim Gordon and Batman are on the case and you get the feeling that Batman is deep in thought here as Gordon is doing all the talking.  We get the basics of the murder...two shots to the head and the murderer came through the window.  But why two head shots and how did they come through the window when the room is on the 84th floor?  The other major thing we learn is the dead guy was originally from Louisiana and since we already know Swamp Thing is in this issue, it's no surprise when he just pops up...or "grows up".  No surprise for the reader, but it gave Gordon a bit of a scare!



Alec Holland tells Batman the dead guy is his father and it's off to the mansion to figure things out. The best part of this entire scene is watching poor Alfred trying to tidy up around Swamp Thing. Hilarious!  Besides that, though, we get a philosophical discussion on what is life and death and the idea that Swamp thing isn't even sure why he really is there.  That proves to be a bit of a lie latter, but this is a story that is more about the motives and ideas of our heroes than the actual murder case.

However, there is still a murder to solve and we get Batman and Swamp Thing pounding the beat and following the clues.  We get another look at Kite Man and I said before that I thought Tom King was dipping into the well too much with him and now I'm officially  done with the character.  It's like watching a stand up comedian telling the same joke over and over at this point.  Couple that with Batman once again just repeating himself and I wish this part was left on the cutting room floor.

The duo then go through a couple of guys (including the possible first appearance of Guy Fieri) before getting to their killer.  It's a crocodile tooth that leads them there, but after hearing Batman explain that this killer shoots his victims twice in the head I was wondering why he didn't at least suspect him earlier.



I think that is my biggest problem with Batman in this issue and Tom King's Batman in general...he's just not that good at being Batman.  He may not get the shit kicked out of him in this issue, but after confronting the killer, Swamp Thing goes ape on him and makes Batman look like a trusting fool.  I hate seeing Batman look like a trusting fool!

The issue ends with Batman screaming at Swamp Thing about what he did, but also about the philosophical idea of the afterlife.  I did laugh at Swamp Thing just going away, but shook my head at almost everything Batman did in this entire issue.



I think that Tom King was more worried about making a thinking persons issue than a Batman issue here.  Batman came off as an idiot and Swamp Thing was just a dick.  I can deal with the later, but Batman was just off.  I'm sure some will give this issue top marks only because it's a cool teamup, but I actually wish this remained shelved until the next Batman Annual or forever.  I would have rather got the Bane aftermath issue this week.

I went back and forth with Mitch Gerads art in this issue.  It started out fantastic, but by the middle of the issue, starting getting a bit rough.  His Swamp Thing was the highlight, but I just didn't like his Batman at all.

Bits and Pieces:

On paper, this issue should be a sure fire hit.  Batman and Swamp Thing? Batman and Swamp Thing! Unfortunately, Tom King gives us a Batman who also seems more concerned for his own philosophy on life and death than anything else and is just not good at being Batman.  Mitch Gerads art is good, but this issue felt like an Annual story than a standalone issue.

5.5/10 



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28 comments:

  1. If you don't want to think, maybe you shouldn't read a comic written by an intelligent writer that's not concerned with telling dumb schlock every other week.

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    1. Thanks for the advice...I'd rather have batman use his brain in his own comic. He is an awful Batman here. This issue was cancelled once and I see why. Nothing happens while we sit and wait for the Babe aftermath issue.

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  2. "I'd rather have batman use his brain in his own comic."
    Like catching a murderer by doing solid Detective work?

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    1. He misses the fact he knows a guy known to shoot people in the head twice, yet later repeats the exact thing about him...then talks to a couple guys to force us to the conclusion. Everything is laid out to get from point a to b in such a generic way. Solid detective work? He takes the son of the murdered man to catch the killer and is surprised he kills him.

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    2. I feel like that "Detective Work" was nothing more than a round about way to get yet another appearance by Kite Man. He gets to the end and he says the guy is known for shooting people twice in the head and that he's been looking for him for a while. Yeah if only you thought of that when you first saw the guy shot twice in the head for no apparent reason and Gordon himself says the second shot is completely pointless. Gordon comes off smarter than Batman in this issue.

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  3. I think I'd love this issue if so much didn't absolutely annoy me. Batman comes off stupid and for some reason everyone talks like they're the wheezing asthmatic kid from Malcolm in the Middle. It seems like all the ellipses were just a way to get a stupid Kite Man catch phrase in there with a different connotation. Dumb.

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  4. "Everything is laid out to get from point a to b in such a generic way."
    Generic is a buzzword that any critic aspiring to be taken seriously should proceed away from. Did you really think you were going to get a 1940s Noir mystery in a single issue? Well if you did maybe you can point me in the direction where I might find these one shot mystery that are not "generic".
    Also why take Swamp Thing to the killer? It's in both the subtext and the text, which you obviously missed. Loss of a parent through the means of unnecessary violence instills emotions that Batman knows better than anyone. He is empathizing with Swamp Thing on an emotional level, only Batman can truly do that here. Also Batman has recently seen both his mother and father, he's expecting some kind of emotional closure from Swamp Thing meeting the killer of his father.
    See Batman is not above making mistakes unless you've only read comics from last 10 year where Batgod makes no mistake. The context is proper for Batman to make an obvious mistake. That doesn't say that Batman is dumb, just that he's not above making mistakes.

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    1. The problem isn't that the progression was generic, it's that they were somewhat generic AND the comic itself points out that it was pointless by its own admission and seems little more than to service as a way to inject Kite Man into the story. At the end Batman says out right that he has been on to the guy for a while and that he always kills people with two shots for seemingly no reason. It's that he admits that and he just lets Swamp Thing kill the man together that just makes Batman look like a complete idiot in this issue. Yes Batman is fine to make mistakes and take someone at face value, but he's a man to be known for his back up plans and contingency plans. This time he has nothing more than to watch and yell? He comes off like a stilted mother who's trying to scold her child knowing damn well she has no real leverage in the situation.

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    2. Why are you here then...thanks for critics 101 discussion. I stand by my score, I think it's an average at best batman issue that was originally cancelled for a reason.

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  5. It's good to know that someone else isn't really buying into the King run on Batman. I loved Grayson and liked Omega Men and think that King is genuinely talented. But he really, really doesn't get Batman. Which is why I don't usually buy this comic.

    I bought it because I like Swamp Thing, and I sort of liked what King did with Alec, though as tends to be the case all over DC he chooses to ignore everything done with the character by his New 52 writers in favor of an older version. I am not clamoring to see King write Swampy. But I would be a lot less unhappy and even bored that I have been with King's utter misinterpretation of Bats.

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    1. thanks Simon...O was starting to believe I was the only one. I loved Grayson (gave it my book of the year and Tom King writer of the Year) and I thought Omega Men was good, but fell apart and ended poorly. His Batman has been up and down...loved the I am Gotham arc, but wasn't crazy about I am Suicide and I am Bane. The problem has been his Batman, I don't think he has a good grasp of the character. Swamp Thing does seem more his style, but you are right, he overlooks the New 52 for an older version.

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  6. I enjoyed it until the end ... highlight for me was the dry humor scattered throughout, espically in the batmobile. I wouldn't rate it too much higher tho , wasn't a fan of the art and the ending felt off to me w batman just screaming. 6.8 / 10 from Buffalo

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    1. Batman just screaming really bothered me. Batman of all people has nothing to even attempt to stop Swamp Thing? I'm just going to yell like an ignored mother scolding her child.

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    2. Buffalo score don't count here

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  7. Loved Swamp Thing. Couple good moments with Bats. Tired of Bane beyond belief, even after the break with the button. Next arc is 8 issues?! Started to wear thin in N52 with the long arcs... 6.5/10. Mostly all because of Swampy and film reel bits. Kings Batman is just kinda there. I feel like the best moments in Kings run have come from supporting characters. Gotham Girl, Catwoman, the Robins, Swamp Thing. Guess I'm not complaining too much, because I have enjoyed those characters, but I feel like I haven't gotten great Batman anything from any book since Rebirth? Still relatively early I guess. Just rambling

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  8. I can see the criticism of the issue. But 5.5? That is a failing grade for an issue that was arguably above average. If Batman is assumed to be all-knowing and all- powerful, why does any issue stretch out to 20 pages? Should he be a character with no emotions? What action should he have taken when Swamp Thing went into murder mode? Blast Swamp Thing with his Bat-torch? Cut his tendrils with a Batarang? Batman did attempt to hold Swamp Thing accountable, but Swamp Thing disappeared without answering for his crime. If nothing else, Tom King depicts Batman as one who struggles with the fact that he is only human - unlike his other JL counterparts.

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    1. He isn't upset at the end because of the murder, he's upset that Swamp Thing lied about the concept of life after death and that felt hokey. Plus, I like batman in Detective mode, but this was cookie cutter case only to get the 2 of them together. You can insert any other character in place of Swamp Thing and not change anything. Make it animal man's dad, penguins dad, plastic man's dad...same issue. This was an issue based around a cool teamup concept without any more thought put into it.

      If it was written by a lesser writer, it would not get the praise it's getting.

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    2. I don't Jim it may be that Swamp Thing truly believed his own bullshit it when he came face to face with father's killer his human emotions came in to play. Batman loss d his mind because this might of what he felt like when he first confronted Joe Chill after becoming Batman. Seeing Swamp Thing, who Batman respects and trusts to having restraints,commit this revenge might of broken him in that moment. The thing with Swamp Thing is that unlike other characters he is very hard to be held accountable.

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    3. I do think he is upset he can't do what Swamp thing just did

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    4. "I can see the criticism of the issue. But 5.5? That is a failing grade for an issue that was arguably above average

      This is absurd thinking and why video games painted themselves into a corner where games are basically only rated between 7-10. This isn't a grade score where under 7 is failing. If 1 is the worst and 10 is the best how the hell is 5.5 failing? It's not a good score by any means, but I'd consider it more average than failing. Under 5 I'd is starting to get into failing territory.

      What's the point in having a 10 point scale and only using 7-10?

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    5. And on top of that, Attach your name to your comments like the reviewer does each time. Some did above, but Mr. Anonymous above had no problem criticizing when his name isn't associated with his comments. So you don't agree with the score, gotcha.

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    6. I'm not sure how the Get Fresh Crew views the 10 point scale, but anything below a 60 was an F for me in school. I can think of comics with no plot, grammar errors, and stick figures that would be rated in the under 5 range. Jim rated this basically where the much-maligned Justice League series has been scoring, and this is at least a grade or 2 higher. I guess I just had a different approach to the numbering...

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    7. I have usually given jl a 4/10 range...so a 5.5 is close to 2 points higher. I just don't think this was a well thought out story. As an example: Swamp Thing's father is living in what appears to be a bit of a rundown apartment building. Yet, it's on the 84th floor. 84th floor???? what apartment buildings have over 84 floors, let alone one that looks like it's in a crowded, rundown section of town? Everything in this story is just a forced setup for Tom King to shove characters and plot devices in...it never felt like a natural flow. Why was Nat the Gnat so excited to see a kite in the pawn shop when he went to buy a gun? How did Batman see Nat didn't have the neckless on when all we see is his back in the surveillance footage? Why does Swamp Thing ask Batman why he drives a car? Why does Batman keep repeating the same dialogue over and over? How would the grass know who "Headhunter" is? Why did Headhunter go to the art museum? Why would Headhunter go through the trouble to buy a Kite, fly up to the 84th floor and shoot Swamp Thing's dad just because he is upset that the guy knows superheroes? Why are we told that the second shot on Swamp Things dad wasn't needed when after both shots, the guy is still alive and singing? Where did the chair go that Swamp Thing's dad was sitting on when he got shot? Why am I yelling?!?!?!?

      Everybody is so happy to see Batman and Swamp Thing team up so keeps looking past huge flaws in the basic story

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  9. I'm with you on the repeating dialogue thing. It's a weird gimmick that really doesn't work for me. The first time it showed up, I wondered why he's talking like that. I still don't know.

    Do you know why Swamp Thing speaks with so many ellipses? He didn't speak like that in the Constantine book.

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    1. it's an odd thing...like it's suppose to make it a wheezing, breathy comment. I don't know!

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  10. His dad was a drunk who couldn't keep his mouth shut about how his son was a swamp monster... Where was Swampthing before his father's death if he was so concerned about him. Perhaps Swampthing felt really guilty by being an absent son who literally could appear out of nowhere ANY time he wanted to and share some of his uh tea, sweat, pee.

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  11. Personally I enjoyed this issue it was a nice change of pace from the usual stuff. Batman did come off a bit odd but seeing the humanity in Swamp Thing and that Batman was helping home because he told him things that made him feel better about his parents was interesting. 8/10

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