Batman (1940 Series) #628
Quick Rating: Good
Title: Scary Monsters (As the Crow Flies Part Three)
As Jonathan Crane continues his work for the Penguin, a horrifying new Scarecrow terrorizes Gotham City’s underworld.
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
I didn’t expect Judd Winick to spend so much of his Batman tenure focusing on the villains, but that’s just what he’s doing, and it’s working well. For a long time now, the Penguin has been portrayed as a sort of bumbling snake oil salesman, at best a washed-up kingpin who’s unable to reclaim his past glories. Here he finally feels like a mob boss, like a nasty bad guy to be reckoned with.
The Scarecrow, meanwhile, is a man who is both confused and torn. He seems to have a real emotional attachment with his assistant, Linda, and truly disdains being in the Penguin’s employ. Still, he has a warped duty to perform, and he keeps going.
Our heroes aren’t absent, of course. Batman sends Robin (Tim Drake, this clearly takes place before Robin #125) off for his regularly-scheduled weekend with the Teen Titans, clearly glad to get his young partner out of harm’s way, and then sets out to find the creature that’s driving mobsters insane. There seems to be a fairly obvious culprit in the creation of this nightmarish Scarecrow substitute, and I’m hoping Winick is either fooling me by looking in the wrong direction or has a really original backstory that is yet to be revealed.
Nguyen and Friend have a wonderful style in this series. They have a fine traditional rendition of Batman and a great big, nasty monster. The creature comes out like something out of L. Frank Baum’s nightmares, a real Scarecrow from hell.
The Winick/Nguyen Batman may not go down in history as the greatest run of all time, but it’s a good, solid run that should be satisfying any mainstream Batman fan. If the mystery turns out to have more to it than it seems, it’ll be better than solid. I’ll just enjoy it while it lasts.