Is it just me or is David Finch’s art getting creepier as this story chugs along?
Batman: The Dark Knight #13 is all regret, child abuse, and nightmares. And boy, is it a fast read. Many of its 20 pages are splash pages, a single image and only a handful of words. That means it’s a good addition to Hurwitz’s Scarecrow arc, but it’ll be over before you know it. In fact, both of the Batman comics that came out today were lightning quick reads.
What you’re getting here is more of the same that you saw in issue #12 only its paced better and the scenes carry a lot more emotional weight. Honestly, issues #12 and #13 could’ve been condensed into a single issue that would’ve been amazing, but let’s not talk about what should’ve happened and let’s talk about the real book at hand. As you may have seen from the preview, Scarecrow still has a little girl hostage and he’s using her tears to make a new fear toxin. She’s either being written as the smartest girl in the world who is trying to get her captor to empathize with her so she can survive OR she’s just a horribly written child character. Either way, in the book’s first page she draws a picture (never mind where she got the paper and pencil) of herself and Scarecrow holding hands outside on a sunny day and gives it to Scarecrow which makes him very, very remorseful about what he’s doing. Luckily for Crane, there’s a Batman in the next room that can be tortured and that’ll knock those warm fuzzy feelings right out of his system!
The rest of the book is all about Batman’s horrifying visions of death at the hands of Scarecrow and a life he could have had if he hadn’t embraced the darkness all those years ago. It’s a compelling read with plenty of spooky imagery, but Batman’s hallucinations regarding a peaceful life aren’t anything we haven’t seen before so I didn’t really feel like those images had the potential to break Batman. After all the hype over a new fear toxin, I expected something more.
Finch’s sketchier style for this arc fits Hurwitz’s horror take on the series quite well. However, I wish that Scarecrow would get out of this basement and do something on a grander scale. So far the Scarecrow is nothing more than a Buffalo Bill type psycho who hangs out in a basement all day conducting creepy experiments and an A-list Batman villain should be doing much, much more than that. Speaking of Scarecrow, you learn more about him than you do Batman in this issue. (After all, Batman is strapped to a slab throughout most of the book) You’ll see what became of Crane’s father and how those awful childhood experiments came to an end.
Overall, it was a good read. Very entertaining, and perfectly scary which is just what you want to read this close to Halloween. Its only major drawback, and it’s a pretty big one, is that there isn’t much here. Its overuse of extra-large panels and splash pages with little or no dialogue means that you’ll be done reading this comic in around 5 minutes and no character even leaves the basement! The story needs to pick up the pace and dream a little bigger both in its villain’s ambitions and its hero’s nightmares.