Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Batman: The Dark Knight #12

Oh Batman! Have you ever faced off against The Scarecrow without succumbing to his Fear Toxin? I'm beginning to think you get off on it.

Last issue ended with Batman being injected with Scarecrow's Fear Toxin while Batman was riding inside of a minecart beneath a ramshackle building where the Scarecrow was keeping Commissioner Gordon captive. It's probably not as silly or far-fetched as it sounds. Perhaps the only way to catch a genius like Batman in a trap is to make the trap really fucking ridiculous. So Scarecrow hides in a fridge on the porch with a cartoon shotgun. That's pretty nonsensical! Then he shoots Batman in the face when Batman decides to use the front door instead of crashing through a wall or a roof or a window like he would normally do because Batman's game is thrown off by the fridge on the porch. Then a trapdoor opens up in the front lawn and Batman falls through it into a mine cart which begins careening down tracks leading to who the fuck knows. And, of course, The Scarecrow has a trapdoor on the porch that allows him to drop directly on Batman and fill him full of chemicals. I might buy it if Grant Morrison were writing it!

That last line was a joke. Do I really have to explain that last line was a joke? I don't want people thinking that I seriously think a ridiculous scene would be better if written by a writer that usually comes up with terrific stuff (like having the Special Class in New X-Men! Genius!). What kind of a fanboy do you think I am?!

Apparently The Scarecrow's trap worked to perfection because this comic begins like this:

This Batman by Finch looks like something Simon Bisley would have drawn after eight scotches and being hit in the head by a two by four.

I've never quite understood why a villain would capture Batman like this and not unmask him. What the fuck is up with removing his shirt but leaving his cowl on? Some kind of stupid respect for the game between these two? I'm sure it will be explained away in a page or two. But I still find it ridiculous.

This issue is called "Mirror, Mirror." That doesn't inspire any hope in me that this will be anything but another "Look how similar Batman is to his crazy enemies" Batman story. The tragedy with Batman's parents is the biggest moment in Bruce's life. He loved them and was destroyed when they were taken away from him. But The Scarecrow's father tortured him constantly. My guess is Crane murdered his father at some point but still wants to make him proud. Batman will probably defeat Crane by using the similarities and differences between their relationships with their parents. Or maybe Batman will just put on some glasses and pretend he's Crane's father which will scare the shit out of Crane and he'll collapse in a blubbering heap.

Oh fuck me! It's explained away in the very next panel. And poorly! A locking mechanism! He should use the same mechanism on his shirt. I'm sure he uses it on his underwear.

Before Crane begins with his psychological fear experiments, he informs Batman that Gordon has been released. He was merely bait to collect the Bat.

That was my reaction too, Batman! This again! Maybe that means Hurwitz will change it up. Or it just means Hurwitz realizes he's treading the same old ground and thinks that having Batman realize it somehow pardons him of the offense.

I know the Scarecrow used to be a crazy psychologist (or psychiatrist. Whatever) so that's why he begins with wanting to discuss Batman's past. And the shadows of Batman's parents on the ground are likely caused by the Fear Toxin drugs still in Bruce's system. But the fact that Batman tells Crane, "I've dealt with my past," just seems batshit looney bins. Batman shouldn't be giving his enemies any clues to work with at all! Talking is bad, Batman! Just shut up and kick some ass. Now Crane is thinking, "A-ha! So there was something Batsy's past that he felt he needed to deal with!"

The next page confirms my speculations. The Scarecrow, of course, knows nothing about Batman's past. But it's a good bet to assume everyone had to deal with something. Batman becomes agitated and cries out, "You can't possibly know this! You can't see this!" And Crane agrees and says he doesn't care. He just cares how it feels. But again, Batman is just saying way too much. The Fear Toxin can be blamed for his mouthiness but I still can't believe that Batman went after The Scarecrow without a respirator or an antidote or something. Batman isn't the type to be caught going in overconfident. He fucking prepares for everything! Look over in Action Comics how he's bugging Superman! The fucking balls on that guy! But here he is, yet again shitting his batsuit in front of The Scarecrow.

Batman: "Hey, Alfred! I'm going to go catch The Scarecrow now!"
Alfred: "Yes, Master Bruce. I'll prepare the laundry."

See? Everyone is scared of something. The big twist is going to be Batman finding out what scares The Scarecrow.

After some flashbacks where Batman relives how much of a giant scaredy baby pantywaist he was, he turns the tables on The Scarecrow.

I think maybe Batman is still on that mine cart because this story line is on rails!

This story isn't satisfying my Batlust at all! And I love The Scarecrow. But since I'm being so negative, let's talk about something I like in the story.

Jonathan Crane's father would shove him in a tiny, dark pit to record his reactions to fear. So that's the big fear tie-in with The Scarecrow. He followed in his father's footsteps by studying fear as well. He also ended up testing unwilling subjects to learn as much as he can about fear. And a scarecrow is supposed to, you know, scare things! Crows, in particular! So that sort of ties-in to the fear experiments and all. But this image of what little Jonathan Crane would do when his father released him from the pit really ties it all together in a beautiful image.

I appreciate how he runs out to the most open space he can find after being confined by his father.

But then the comic hops right back on the manure truck. The shit express? The Space Shuttle of Diarrhea?

It's like Gregg Hurwitz read the first story arc of Batman: The Dark Knight and decided to rewrite it already! The first issue of this comic begins with Bruce Wayne declaring he will never be afraid. And then each subsequent issue exposes things that he fears. But forget all of those fears! Now the only thing Batman fears is fear!

The Scarecrow continues psychoanalyzing Batman by sheer speculation since he's not privy to any of Bruce's visions or memories. He finally decides that Bruce doesn't want to exist anymore. He doesn't want to feel loss or fear or pain. And that's pretty much how it ends.

The only way this comic can redeem itself is if next issue begins with Batman saying, "You'd like that, wouldn't you, Crane?" And then he punches Crane in the nose and says, "I'm so sick and tired of you criminals believing that there is a part of you inside of me. I'm not you. I'm not a scared little boy running from childhood trauma. I loved people who are gone now and I miss them but the memory of their death does not drive me to do what I do. The memory of their lives and who they were and what they stood for drives me. My butler Alfred reminds me every day that...oh shit! Well fuck. I guess I have to kill you, Doctor Crane!" The end!

Batman: The Dark Knight #12 Rating: No change. Maybe for a Reboot, this rehashed old Scarecrow story would fly for new readers. But, as I've said before, this is the third Scarecrow story in Batman titles so far this year. And the theme of fear is just a rehash of the theme of the first story arc in this same fucking title! Although I do like the look into the Scarecrow's past. I think that would give this book its own identity if each story really delved deeply into the criminal's story. But don't make every story the same old mirror of Batman shit. "Oh, look how similar Batman is to the Joker/Riddler/Penguin/Mad Hatter/Catwoman/Bane/Whatever."

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