“Little pretty bat who flew his way to me…
Look into the looking glass, and tell me what you see.”
In contrast to the disappointing Volume 1, this second collected edition delivers the goods in style. It's bloody and violent at times, but so completely reliant on the small details too that it feels as if it was sculpted as opposed to the pieced-togetherness of the previous book.
The story takes us back to THAT night in Bruce's past. It's a device we've seen a thousand times before, but it's the context acting as the catalyst that makes it seem different. It's even presented as a comparative and contrasting element to the Scarecrow's beginnings, which we're also treated to. Again, his story is nothing particularity new to comics readers but it's so tightly plotted and executed with nothing wasted that it's a joy to read.
Hurwitz and Finch's Scarecrow is genuinely terrifying and his actions calculated and chilling. It's as if he's been pulled directly out of a lonely child's darkest nightmare. I could almost smell the dusty, mouldy odour of his face mask.
The art is suitably dark and disturbing. Finch's liberal use of black hides nasty things of the reader's own making. Unseen horrors fill the cold spaces and add to the unease. Even Wayne Manor is draped in shadows, its size making Bruce seem small and insignificant, as helpless as a child. I got the feeling that if he only had some warmth in his life it would chase the shadows away. That's why I love Batman so much. He's the valiant knight, the defender of the weak, but he's also fragile and broken beneath the surface and he knows it.
Hopefully the quality of this arc is a sign of things to come from Hurwitz's run on the New 52 and not just a lucky strike. The next TPB is due to be released in a few weeks, so time will tell.
The book collects together Batman: The Dark Knight issues 0, 10-15.
4 defining fears out of 5