Wednesday, August 28, 2013

SPOILERS: Batman - The Dark Knight #23

Clayface has just gotten done watching The Dark Knight Rises, and figures he'll take down Gotham's stock exchange too! Only this time, he kills all his partners, just like in the previous issue's jewel heist. Of course, Batman shows up, saves an innocent woman, and tries to seal Clayface in the same container he used to trap him in Batman #19 or #20, I forget which one. But, unfortunately for Bruce, the action is so chaotic, he isn't able to get a full seal on the bottom, and Clayface slips out any gap he can find, ultimately escaping capture.

Still on edge after Clayface morphed into his deceased girlfriend, Natalya, Bruce decides to look into the connection further, and tries to speak with Mad Hatter, the only person who knew Natalya and Batman were familiar with each other, at Arkham. Unfortunately, Hatter isn't talking, to anyone but himself, that is, so Bruce looks into any visitors Hatter may have had, and finds one interesting entry.

Bruce's next stop is to wake Penguin up in the middle of the night, after finding out that one of his men visited Hatter, and coincidentally enough, the men Clayface has been using for his job are some of Penguin's competitors, and even more interestingly, it turns out Penguin made a couple of "smart" moves in the stock market just prior to Clayface's attack. Of course, Penguin admits to nothing, but it's suspicious.

Later, Bruce lights the Bat-Signal, essentially to call Gordon who inspects why it's on... and to check Gordon is Gordon, Bruce pretty much just smacks him to see if it's Clayface or not. Turns out Bruce has a plan, and needs the GCPD to help lure Clayface out into the open, and also spook him too, so he can't concentrate, and weaponize himself.

Sometime later, Clayface is setting up for his next heist, but instead of the men he was expecting to help (and probably kill) a bunch of people dressed up like Batman show up, of course, this freaks Clayface out, ultimately spooking him, bringing him out in the open, and then he gets locked up...


The Good:

Alex Maleev's art is fantastic. He fits really well with Batman, and honestly, I kind of hope he sticks on the book past this Clayface arc, but I have a feeling they may continue the rotating artist sort of deal that has been established between Finch, Van Sciver and Maleev. This book has also had quite a bit of funny moments recently, notably Batman just slapping Gordon in this issue, and him being okay with it. It's sort of dumb, but dumb in an endearingly funny sort of way.

The Bad:

It ends very abruptdly, and it's hard to see where it would go, without being totally repetitive. What's Clayface going to do, escape? And then they'll have to trap him again? The "next issue" text teases the origin of Clayface, which honestly has got me worried that this will fall back into the same format as Hurwitz's Penguin, Scarecrow and Mad Hatter stories have followed, which I've made note of numerous times, I'm beginning to tire of...

The Bottom Line:

This is a standard Clayface story so far, nothing ground shaking, but perfectly suitable and enjoyable for what it is, complimented by Alex Maleev's very strong showing. The only problem is that the issue just sort of ends, it seems as if the conflict is over, but there are at least two more issues of this arc to go, so by the end you're sort of just left thinking "Wait... What, that's it? Okay?" The issue just also leaves me worried that we're going to get another "Karlo had a bad childhood and now he's Clayface" story, like this book has sort of become known for in the past year.


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