Today, we look at three stories and how important the patriarch of the family is to the people involved. In Gotham City, Batman and Swamp Thing work on a surprising case, while Superman tries to find his missing son in Hamilton County. Finally, the Pike Family of Royal City continues to struggle with their dad having a stroke.

Batman Upset

Batman 23
Written by Tom King 
Art by Mitch Gerads 

One of the things I’ve enjoyed as part of the Rebirth initiative at DC Comics is how they’ve gone out of their way to put Batman in situations where he’s a little uncomfortable, and his reactions to those situations have been amazing.

During THE BUTTON, he was completely out of his element has Flash dragged him around the time stream. As a guest in Superman, he went to milk a cow and got captured by black goo – he’s still there, by the way, but we’ll get to Hamilton County later. And now, in his own book, he teams up with Alec Holland – better known as elemental force the Swamp Thing – when a man who turns out to be Holland’s biological father is discovered murdered.

Batman Dearest

Coming off the story where a parallel world’s version of Thomas Wayne told his son to stop being the Batman, the story of how Swamp Thing deals with his father’s death – and Bruce’s reaction to it – is especially poignant and manages to show cracks in Batman’s armor that he typically doesn’t allow to be seen.

Writer Tom King uses every panel in the book masterfully and the art by Mitch Gerards is phenomenal, especially as he seems to have fun with facial expressions. The scene where Swamp Thing approaches Batman and Commissioner Gordon was amazing.

This issue, humorously labeled THE BRAVE AND THE MOLD, might be one of the best single issues of the year.

Superman ELite

Superman 23
Written by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason 
Art by Doug Mahnke, Jaime Mendoza and Wil Quintana 

Superman BlackI think I may be more excited about the final panel of this book than I am almost any other book I’ve read this month (though there’s a lot more to come). One of the best villains created in the early 2000s is back, and things are not going to be easy for Superman.

As the creative team closes the book on the Kent family’s time in Hamilton County, everything about the place seems to be going a bit haywire. Monsters are attacking the area surrounding the Kent farm, the Mayor, town doctor, police officer and others are superheroes who have very few issues with killing called the Super Elite (OOH! It’s a clue!) and neighbor Mr. Cobb is a telekinetic who is trying to “prepare” Superman and his son, Jon. Oh, and Batman and Robin, along with Frankenstein and his Bride, are still captured in black goo. It’s amazing.

And it seems to all be the doing of Manchester Black, an antihero from the early 2000s who led a team called the Elite – an Authority ripoff – who tried to teach superman a lesson.

The BLACK DAWN (Hey! Another clue!) story has been great so far and with the reveal here that Manchester Black has returned, I assume things are just going to get better as we build to the finale.

Royal City Walk

Royal City 3
Written and Drawn by Jeff Lemire

The story of the Pike family and how they deal not only with their patriarch suffering a stroke, but the long-lasting effects of their brother dying young, continues to be one of the best books I read every month.

In the third issue, we get a focus on sister Tara, who is trying to broker a deal that would bring new business into Royal City, but it would also gut the local factory – which employs her husband, her brother and a good chunk of the town. She faces opposition from her husband, who is trying to organize a union to protect the jobs of everyone there.

It doesn’t bode well for a relationship that was already on the rocks after a miscarriage.

Royal City Us

Jeff Lemire continues to craft a very personal story that should be very relatable for anyone who has lived in a manufacturing town and even anyone who’s had to deal with a partially dysfunctional family (really, haven’t we all?).