Home > DC Comics > Scratch (2004 Series) #1

Scratch (2004 Series) #1

May 29, 2004

Quick Rating: Good
Title: Scratch

A young boy with a strange affliction finds a home with a group of freaks.

Writer: Sam Kieth
Art: Sam Kieth
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Phil Balsman
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Cover Art: Sam Kieth
Publisher: DC Comics

Although this looks like a Batman miniseries and Batman appears on the cover, right next to the legend, “Is Batman his defender or his DOOM?”, Batman has almost nothing to do with this comic book. He shows up on the first couple of pages to narrate, apparently in Cryptkeeper fashion, then vanishes for the rest of the issue as we get into the real story, that of a young boy with a furry, mangled hand who finds that he turns into a werewolf-like monster under a full moon. Fearing the people of his hometown, he flees into the woods and stumbles into a cabin of freaks with malformities of their own.

Sam Kieth proved a long time ago that he can tell a good monster story with superhero elements mixed in there. There isn’t really anything too original in this issue (freaks in a cabin in the woods, bodies mutated by radiation, feared and hated by narrowminded villagers with pitchforks and rocks, yadda yadda yadda…) but there’s nothing really bad about what we do have. At the end of the issue, though, the biggest question is still what on earth Batman has to do with any of this.

Kieth’s artwork is much stronger than his story. With a color assist from Alex Sinclair, Kieth does a dark, shadowy, twisted world that suits our protagonist well. The details are what make Kieth’s artwork zing – the individual hairs on people’s arms and chests, the twisted eyes of the woman who saves our werewolf friend, the freaky forms of the children who live with her. It’s like an old episode of the Twilight Zone. He does a great Batman pin-up on the first page as well, although again, I’m not sure why.

This isn’t a great miniseries, but it seems to be a proper introduction for a new character I suspect Kieth wants to tell stories with, bringing Batman in as a sales hook in this first miniseries. Batman fans will be bothered that the Dark Knight barely figures in this issue, but fans following Kieth from The Maxx will find him in his old form. There’s room for this to become a dandy little miniseries.

Rating: 7/10

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