Batman: Kings of Fear #3 – Scott Peterson, Writer; Kelley Jones, Artist; Michelle Madsen, Colorist
Ray – 7.5/10
Corrina: Terrific classic Batman
Ray: Batman: Kings of Fear is an odd book, equal parts psychological study of Batman’s mission and art showcase for Kelley Jones’ unique style. I’m not entirely sure that either half fully works due to being split between the two missions, though. The issue is essentially a bizarre ride-along as Scarecrow forces Batman to take him along for a night, as the only way he’ll free his hostage. Scarecrow’s long had a fixation on psychoanalyzing Batman, something he shares with Hugo Strange and occasionally Mad Hatter. But Batman isn’t into Scarecrow’s games, and frequently manhandles him along the way – even tossing him across rooftops in a scene that calls for a “Yeet”. The script doesn’t quite mesh with Jones’ super-creepy art – his Scarecrow is terrifying, but the scenes in the first half of the story are often broadly comic. It’s also very decompressed, with a full three pages being devoted to Batman catching Scarecrow and tossing him through a window.
Scott Peterson’s Scarecrow is an interesting character, equal points supervillain and doctor who at times seems genuinely interested in Batman’s mental health. But at the same time he has absolutely no issue with kidnapping an innocent person to force Batman to submit. The best scenes of the issue are those that show Batman in a more human light. Batman’s usually a pretty imposing figure, but I really enjoyed the scene where he brings himself down to the level of a little girl who wandered out of her home and got lost. It shows Batman can be whatever the public needs him to be – he’s a specter of vengeance when the villains call for it, but he’s a human protector for innocents. The issue is, this series is about half over, and I still have very little idea what Scarecrow actually wants out of it. He’s created an elaborate plan to force Batman to be his puppet, and all he seems to want to do with it is follow him around. This series looks great, and that’s almost enough to make it a worthy read, but I want a bit more.
Corrina: Ray is not giving this miniseries enough credit. It’s rare when I like a series more than he does but it’s usually a case like this, with a great take on a classic version of a character.
In this case, it’s a classic version of a Scarecrow story, in which we’re never sure how much is real and how much is not because of the fear gas that causes Batman to hallucinate. That effect is heightened by Jones’ surreal-style and I loved it when the panels went silent and let Jones’ artwork carry the story.
But the moments that stood out to me where the human ones, even Scarecrow’s sarcastic asides as Batman being Batman seems to scare the heck out of him. But the highlight has to be Batman’s conversation with the little girl on the street, which includes Batman kneeling so he’s not so imposing. This is a Batman we should see more of in the mainstream books but, alas, do not.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.