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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

SPOILERS: Batman - The Dark Knight #23.2


Mr. Freeze stands in the middle of a frozen over living room, recalling early portions of his life. Prior to the events of Batman Annual #1, his father left he and his mother, then a short time later, the events surrounding Victor's mother and an icy lake that we also saw in the annual happen. Freeze seems to be telling this story to an audience, as he covers Batman, and how Nora wasn't really his wife.

Some time ago, after the Birds of Prey ordeal, Freeze is once again locked up in Arkham, where someone slips him a newspaper clipping that reveals his father has a new family. Freeze's doctor speaks to him about this, and Freeze wants to contact them, and though he thinks it's a bad idea, the doctor eventually says he'll do his best to get any letters written to the family. Freeze makes sure his doctor will try hard, by threatening his life if he's lying.

Fast forward to Gotham going to shit thanks to the events of Forever Evil #1. Arkham is in chaos, and Freeze decides to see if his letters were sent. Spoiler alert: He knows they weren't, and freezes them solid to kills his doctor with.

While then going about his business, getting out of Arkham, Freeze finds Cannibal Bill, a local Arkham cannibal, attempting to kill a nurse that was nice to Freeze. So, playing the "hero," Freeze dispatches of Cannibal Bill and his friends, then recruits the nurse to pay him back by helping him locate someone.

Someone be his father, and his new family. The house he's in belongs to them, and he's telling this whole story to his newfound stepmother and siblings. Turns out his father passed before he could plan dinner, so OH WELL. He goes on to fill in the gaps for them a bit more, how he got his powers, Nora, so on and so on.

Before Freeze sits down for dinner, he puts some suspiciously body part shaped looking things wrapped in garbage bags, along with the picture of his father (with his face cut out) and his family, in the freezer. As Freeze finally sits down to dinner, he brings up what his mother said to them when his father left, that family is everything, and now Freeze has a new one, which he's never letting go...

Because he's turned them to icicles.

The Good:

I like the new take on Freeze. He's still an obsessed super crazy, but with some new twists here and there towards the object(s) of his obsession. This issue pretty much followed directly from the Batman Annual and seemed like a logical step forward from where that issue left off. What it didn't follow, yet mentioned, was the whole deal with the Birds of Prey, where Freeze and Starling are all the sudden best buds, then escape together, yet here Freeze is in Arkham... but that book is such a hack job at this point, I'm pretty sure no one cares, so moving on! Gray and Palmiotti manage to write Freeze in that creepy, unsettiling tone you might imagine when it comes to him. I had no problem fitting Michael Ansara's (RIP) voice with this depiction of Freeze, so that's quite clearly a positive.

Also, I wasn't sure what to expect from Jason Masters' art. I wasn't super wild about his fill in for Batman Inc here and there, but I was pleasantly surprised with this issue. I don't know if Masters was trying to fit Burnham in those Inc issues, but here his style seemed more refined, and Dave McCaig's pallet of blues really helped create a cold feel to the issue.

The Bad:

I wouldn't say this is entirely unique to this issue alone, it's more of a problem with a lot of these Villains Month issues, but I feel like it sort of needlessly retread some of the stuff we had already gotten. We saw Freeze's accident, and his confrontation with Batman in that Annual issue, and I just feel like perhaps the issue could have utilized those pages for something more, and kept that entire sequence to a minimum.

Also, I'm not taking points off for this, but I want more Arnold style Freeze puns. I don't care if it's dumb! I've gotten to the point where I sort of ironically like them.

The Bottom Line:

I liked this issue, I really did. Gray and Palmiotti hit that great creepy tone Freeze requires, and Masters along with McCaig did a great job of portraying Freeze himself and an overall sense of coldness. Like I said, I felt this issue did a good job of progressing the story we got with Freeze in the Annual, I just wish it didn't spend as much time on retelling certain scenes from that issue. That said, if you enjoyed the New 52 Mr. Freeze, definitely pick this issue up.

RATING: 4/5

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