Review: ‘Batman’ #23 Plants Itself As One Of This Week’s Must Reads

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Batman #23

A mysterious murder brings Alec Holland, the Swamp Thing, to the streets of Gotham City. Teaming up with Batman, the Swamp Thing begins an investigation that eventually leads him to something personal that forces Holland to face not only his past but his ties to his humanity as well. And as a man living under the shadow of his parents’ death, Batman will find himself more emotionally involved that he would like. It’s a tale of murder, plants, villains and parents.Batman #23

Batman #23
‘The Brave and The Mold’
Written by: Tom King
Art by: Mitch Gerads
Lettered by: Clayton Cowles
Published by: DC Comics

I’d been waiting months to read this issue, and what a payoff! Swamp Thing is one of my favorite characters, and teaming him with Batman usually makes for one of the best “odd couple” pairs in comics. This issue continues that great tradition with one of the best team-ups between the two I have ever read. This is pretty much a perfect “done-in-one” issue of comic book storytelling, and a master class in capturing the essence of a character. Read on for 11 reasons Batman #23 is without a doubt a must read this week!

Batman #23
Page from ‘Batman‘ #23
  1. It’s Tom King writing Swamp Thing! ‘Nuff said! Not since Allan Moore has Alec Holland been this well written.
  2. The title ‘The Brave and The Mold’ tells you all you need to know about the story you are going to read. It’s both playful, acknowledges the past, and hides a deeper meaning once you have finished.
  3. Mitch Gerads’ art is simply gorgeous. The symmetrical layouts and panels not only create great pacing, they are also just beautiful to look at. Plus he draws the most amazing Swamp Thing since Stephen Bissette.
  4. King’s ability to balance humor, horror, and sentiment, sometimes even in the course of a few panels.
  5. The chapter headings that create a great sense of storytelling.
  6. Alfred meticulously sweeping behind Swamp Thing.
  7. Kite Man! (This is the second time King has used Kite Man. I love it.)
  8. “The grass…told me”
  9. “Why do you need a car?” –Swamp Thing. “Why do you need a body?” –Batman. “Heh” –Swamp Thing
  10. The brutal horror Swamp Thing is capable of unleashing. Can’t forget his monster roots.
  11. Batman’s vulnerable and emotional outburst at the end.

    Batman #23
    Page from ‘Batman‘ #23

I know I have dropped a lot of hyperbole on this title for the better part of a year, but Tom King and his various collaborates just continue to surprise me. It’s safe to say this is already a classic run, and this is the kind of issue that will be collected in ‘Best Of’ trades and lists for years to come.

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Manny Gomez is a freelance writer based out of Florida’s west coast. He obsessively reads interviews, binge watches TV shows, loves comics, movies, punk rock, hip-hop, stand-up comedy, detective novels and the mythology of baseball. His best friend is a dog.

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