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Batman #627

May 8, 2004

Quick Rating: Good
Title: Partners in Crime (As the Crow Flies Part Two)

The Penguin and the Scarecrow make their schemes as Batman tries to track them down.

Writer: Judd Winick
Pencils: Dustin Nguyen
Inks: Richard Friend
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Clem Robins
Editor: Bob Schreck
Cover Art: Matt Wagner
Publisher: DC Comics

Didn’t the last issue of Batman ship just two weeks ago? One hopes DC isn’t going to follow Marvel’s lead when it comes to double shipping or skewing release schedules – there’s enough of that going on already. But at least we get a solid issue of Batman this week.

Mobsters in Gotham City are going nuts, killing indiscriminately and usually ending up dead themselves, and the Batman wants to know why. The readers already know the answer, however – the whole thing is a plot concocted by the Penguin and the Scarecrow, who is forced into a subservient role even though it is his biochemical genius making the plan possible.

This is a pretty good study of the characters, showing how meek the Scarecrow really is when not amped up on his chemicals or his own self-importance. The Penguin also comes across as more brutal and dangerous than he has appeared in recent years, and quite the joke he frequently appears to be.

We’re also introduced to a new character this issue, the Scarecrow’s lab assistant, Linda Friitawa. Linda is a true albino, with pale skin, white hair and pink eyes – and a sensitivity to light that makes her as much a creature of the night as the Batman. She has an odd affection for the Scarecrow, something that promises to add a dimension to the old villain who sometimes feels like he has no stories left to tell. It’s a nice little twist that Winick adds, and one that is welcome.

Dustin Nguyen is a really good Batman artist. He and inker Richard Friend do a fine job casting the Dark Knight in the shadows, and bring out the grotesqueries of the Penguin and the spindly weirdness of the Scarecrow very well. The final monster that appears on the last few pages looks especially good, like something out of L. Frank Baum’s nightmares.

Winick is serving up a good old-fashioned Batman tale – nothing spectacular, nothing groundbreaking, but entertaining and a lot of fun. I’m enjoying this story arc, and I expect I’ll keep enjoying it through to the end.

Rating: 7/10

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