Villains Month: Scarecrow #1
While writer Peter J Tomasi makes sure Detective Comics #23.3 is one of the most verbose issues in Villains Month, he accomplishes very little other than to shill for an event within an event. Those hoping for a quick end to Forever Evil, prepare yourselves for the long haul. With only the first issue of Forever Evil released, DC is already preparing its readers for Arkham War, a coming battle between Blackgate prison and the former inmates of Arkham Asylum.
Detective #23.3 focuses on The Scarecrow, only this time it’s not an origin story. This time, the Scarecrow is in the middle of the new dawn of evil. The world is covered in darkness (thanks to Ultraman moving the moon in front of the sun) and Gotham City has been left to the criminals. Penguin is the new mayor, and he’s allowed the Gotham rogues to stake their claim to the city. Scarecrow’s intentions are bigger; he’s looking to use this impending war to own all of Gotham.
All of #23.3 is set up. Scarecrow walks into Mr. Freeze’s section of town, warning him of the coming war. Then he attempts to match wits with Riddler, and then attempts to charm Poison Ivy into coming into this war on the side of Arkham. It’s odd to see Scarecrow acting so magnanimous towards his fellow criminals. When the truth comes out, it makes total sense; especially the way Tomasi has Scarecrow approach each of rogues. He strokes their ego, makes them each feel that they aren’t crazy, that they may be from Arkham but are not of Arkham. Using their own desires against them, Scarecrow begins to hatch his plan.
While I have no real desire to become muddled in the Arkham War series, I admire how deep into the darkness Tomas is willing to go. There’s no caddy “bad guy” here, it’s all real evil. Without the Bat watching over them, the rogues are free to act out their darkest impulses. Perhaps the best of them is Mr. Freeze. The citizens of Gotham are relegated to the areas controlled by certain rogues. Scarecrow finds a family trying to escape Freeze and doses them with his fear toxin. After their conversation, Freeze kills the father and takes the rest of the family to be treated for Scarecrow’s dosing. He tells his men that when they come off the drug, the family is to be told the father escaped so that the family will spend all time wondering why he never came back for them.
Damn. That’s cold.
If I have one complaint with Detective #23.3, it is the art. Szymon Kudranski tries so hard to show the darkness of the new world that he ends up muddying his own work. The lines here aren’t very strong; Kudranski prefers thinner, sketchier lines. When those lines meet his over zealous use of shading, the result is a hair too shadowy to be enjoyable. I appreciate what Kudranski is trying to do, he just needed to either use stronger inks in the outlines or ease up on the shading.
(4 Story, 2 Art)