Hurwitz Can Do Better
The lastest few Dark Knight covers have just been okay, but this one is awesome. Scarecrow looks pretty terrifying, and the idea that they're playing chess with the city itself is genius.
This issue is pretty weird, sections of it feel like its just tagged on after the arc was truly resolved, and yet certain plot points do come up at the end. Last issue Batman had his big fight with Scarecrow, so he doesn't really get one this issue. He just has to deal with large sections of the city strung out on fear toxin. This whole first section is very messily paced. Batman, still heavily injured from his encounter last issue, has to go out and help the people.... except then he has to suddenly go all the way BACK because the only way to make the antidote is to use his blood because he overcame the toxin from sheer force of will or immunity or something glossed over. And then there's a really intense moment where Batman is flying over the city, pumping his blood into the antidote machine built into the batwing or something.... it just doesn't really make sense. The urgency for where Batman needs to go keeps swinging wildly back and forth between locations, it's just a mess with forced plot points sprinkled in.
I must add that David Finch's artwork is fantastic for the mood of the story. It's really intense, and full of almost grotesque or eerie details that really make the horror tone work perfectly.
There's a few moments at the end that resolve some of the emotional plot points brought up at the beginning of the arc involving Damien and whoever this week's love interest was, but they come across very forced. Many stories will begin with characters needing to learn a real world lesson in addition to a villain related one, but there's no evidence of him having learned his lesson along the way, he just apparently learned it without any provocation. I never really saw anything along the arc that would suggest he changed his ways at all, and yet he demonstrates an unfounded understanding of his prior shortcomings.
The best part about this issue is the hauntingly depressing defeat of Scarecrow. He's seen a lot of the darker sides of himself, and he's been pushed back into a corner, definitely had his stability rocked by the kindness of a little girl. Batman arrives, and Scarecrow just collapses to the floor. The final moments as his plan for future escape backfire and collapse around him are a haunting refection of the harrowed inside of a broken man known as Scarecrow that we've seen more of in this arc.
In Conclusion: 2.5/5
I REALLY wanted to like this issue. This arc has been a significant improvement over the first 8-issue run, and I LOVED the final Scarecrow moments, but the whole first half of this issue was just a mess, and the heartwarming emotional resolutions in the fallout have no support from context in the rest of the arc. The artwork was scraggly and dark in all the right ways, but I think this arc stretched itself out a bit too thin. This issue needed to force a few plot points to lengthen in some areas and rush others. I'm pretty disappointed by this issue alone, though the Scarecrow scenes were a satisfying conclusion to this arc.