STORY: Gregg Hurwitz
ART: David Finch
Batman: The Dark Knight started out as the weakest Batman title in DC’s arsenal. Detective Comics explored the more emotional aspects of Bruce Wayne’s life, Batman was all about the psychological, and Batman and Robin provided the familial themes so important to Batman’s characterization. The Dark Knight didn’t really have much to explore that the other three titles weren’t already delving into, and it showed. It didn’t help that David Finch – the acclaimed artist – was attempting scripting duties. Now that Gregg Hurwitz has taken over the writing duties, things have started to pick up with the debut of the ‘New 52’ Scarecrow.
Hurwtiz’s Scarecrow is far more visceral than previous incarnations as the son to a mentally unbalanced psychologist (how ironically fun is that?), Crane has a disturbing connection to fear that makes a lot more sense with his inclinations to toy with fear on the molecular and chemical level. “Well, Dad…Take a look at me now!” hearkens to universal paternal issues that trigger deep-seeded rage. More interestingly, Hurwitz has made Crane’s fear toxin a viable threat once again – it goes deeper and coaxes the subconscious fears that are usually blocked out.
“You see, that’s why I understand you, Batman. You fear nothing. Except fear itself,” pretty much sums up Batman as a whole. Bruce fights every day of his life to stave off the fear that criminals use to subdue their victims, but in the end, it’s Batman himself who uses fear the most. He uses that fear to “prove yourself, over and over.” – Scarecrow claims he’s mastered fear while Bruce runs from it. On a psychological level, Bruce fills the void in his life with the fight against fear. On the emotional side, Batman uses fear as a crutch more often than not, and that’s why Scarecrow can win, why he continues to be a thorn in Batman’s side.
And that’s the real tragedy: that Batman’s void can really never be filled because he will never be able to conquer his own fear and ascend to a greater cause.