Last issue wrapped with Batman running at the front door of a villain’s hide0ut like an amateur. He took some buckshot to the chest, fell back, and into a hole in the front yard that led to a mine shaft or something. I thought it was a weak finale to a mediocre issue and was pretty disappointed since I enjoyed the book that came before it. This time around, we’re back on track and I’m not talking about the mineshaft (Boom! I’m gone 8 days and I’ve still got it!). I don’t think this issue is going to knock your socks off, but it’s definitely better than the previous installment and without a doubt better than issues #1-9 of this entire series. We’re out of the shaft and into the hideout where we get to witness one long torture scene intermixed with glimpses of the past.
You not only get a bit of Scarecrow origin but Batman origin as well. All of the Crime Alley stuff is a bit dull because we’ve seen it played out thousands of times, but Hurwitz does tweak a few details to make it his own. For instance, Thomas Wayne seems less loving and even a bit callous toward his son which is something we’re definitely not used to seeing. I don’t like that angle, but Batman is under the influence of fear toxin throughout this issue so I suppose we can chalk up Thomas’ behavior to being a warped hallucination. I mean, whether or not Bruce’s parents were perfect, Bruce should totally remember them as being saints no matter what. That’s at the very heart of his character. He’s out for vengeance, not approval. If he’s Batman to earn approval of mommy or daddy, then he’s just a crybaby. A disturbed crybaby, but still a crybaby. Agree? Disagree? Write it in the comments below.
Hurwitz also juxtaposes Bruce’s childhood with Crane’s and that leads to some interesting and creepy stuff. Artist David Finch did a gruesome drawing of a disembowelment that was especially horrifying. His art overall is quite good, it usually is. I’ve noticed that his work with Hurwitz is definitely a lot dirtier and scratchier looking than it has been before and it works well with the darker material of a Scarecrow horror tale. And make no mistake, it’s a horror tale. There’s so much dread and death and misery in every panel but pay close attention to the details. Finch distorts shadows and reflections often so try not to skim through the illustrations too quickly. We also get to see a few flashback/hallucination cameos of other bat rogues that should make many people happy.
Alright, so leading up to this issue we were promised shocking insight into Bruce and Scarecrow’s history but these pages offer nothing new. It’s entertaining, but not surprising or something you’ll find yourself re-reading. In fact, it retreads many plot points we all know far too well but new readers should definitely pick this up. I can’t stress enough how new-reader friendly this issue is so try and share it with a friend who isn’t into comics yet. It might just persuade them to dig a little deeper.
Overall, disturbing imagery and villainous dialogue prevail in issue #12 but there isn’t much of a story at all. The uninitiated will find a lot to love, but we are initiated…aren’t we?