Sunday, September 6, 2015

Batman '66 #68 Review and *SPOILERS*

Written By: Jeff Parker
Art By: Lukas Ketner, Kelly Fitzpatrick

Digital Price: $0.99
Release Date: September 2, 2015

Fear The Walking..... Oh Wait, Scarecrow

*Non Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*

I've been really digging Jeff Parker adding Gotham villains that we know into the '66 world who never had the chance to debut in the television show.  We've gotten Two-Face, Poison Ivy, Bane last issue and now we'll be dealing with the camped up version of Scarecrow and that's just amazing to me.  Let's jump into this issue of Batman '66 and see what terrorizing trauma Jonathan Crane is inflicting on the good people of Gotham City.  Let's check it out.

Explain It!:

Our story begins with police headquarters being broken into for it's confiscated money sacks and when our dynamic duo arrive on the scene, it's the most curious thing......... Commissioner Gordon and Chief O'Hara are in front of the building screaming about how all is lost and that the city is doomed.  Without inspecting the problems that our law enforcement characters seem to be having, Batman and Robin enter the police station and man is it cool.  Waiting inside is Scarecrow with his '66 debut and he doesn't waste anytime in introducing himself to the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder.  Before our heroes have a chance to defend themselves, Scarecrow blasts them with his gas........ and while I love Robin's fear induced hallucination, Batman's is a little odd.  Okay, Robin sees Batman telling him that he no longer needs a sidekick, that he failed Gotham and that the villains of the city are right when they call him the Boy Blunder.  This just comes off so well, but Batman on the other hand, his just really weird.  Now, I can't think of a time in the Batman '66 series where we actually saw Bruce Wayne's parents killed....... and while I do like it's inclusion here, I don't know if this was the best way to go about it.  We see a little Batman being walked down the Crime Alley as he tries to pull his parents away stopping them from their fate.......... but he's only a little guy and "BLAM! BLAM!".  Eventually our heroes snap our of their fear visions and find that the villain has escaped.  I wish I could say that this was the majority of the book because it was really good, but sadly it only takes up a couple of pages and the rest begins to feel a little corny........ and for this series, that's saying something.

After going back to the Batcave to analyze their costumes to find out what this gas is, our heroes determine that the raw elements that were needed to created the gas can be found in a small town in the Appalachian Mountains.......named Jitters Hollow.  If you've ever seen the movie Pumpkinhead, the town is a lot like the one in that movie....... just straight up Sticks-Ville, but hospitality is not lost on the people there and a couple ask Batman and Robin in for dinner.  It's during this meal where we find out about the odd boy that was left on the doorstep of the Crane Family Boarding House, who the Crane family took in and raised as their own....... I guess their actual son Zeke wasn't fond of this idea and spent most of Jonathan Crane's childhood terrorizing the boy with a scarecrow........ Oh yeah, it's not hard to put this mystery together.  Anyway, with that and the knowledge that the crops in this town are known to give outsiders the jitters, Batman and Robin return to Gotham to take on their new foe.

In the end, Scarecrow intends on flooding the city with fear toxin that he's placed in the sewers throughout the city, but he finds that he isn't the only one that enjoys a good scare.  Through the mist of the gas, Scarecrow sees his brother Zeke holding the Scarecrow that terrorized him in his youth, but this time the Scarecrow is the one talking and ridiculing Jonathan for believing he could actually be The Scarecrow.  Zeke confirms that the Scarecrow is real and ever since they were children he's been doing it's bidding.  Well, this confrontation with his childhood trauma just puts Scarecrow right over the edge and he becomes catatonic because of his fear.  As the issue closes we see that Zeke and the Scarecrow from the field were actually Batman and Robin and the reason they were immune to the gas now is because of the meal that they shared with the couple in Jitter's Hollow, since Scarecrow's fear toxin was based on the crops there.  All's well that ends well, but I love the Scarecrow and would have loved to see a larger story for his debut into this world.

That's it for this issue of Batman '66 and initially I wasn't that impressed with this issue and it's inclusion of Sticks-Ville USA, but after reading it again, I found myself enjoying it more and the idea of Batman and Robin being in the country in their bright colored outfits just struck my funny bone in the right way.  The hallucinations that our heroes suffered due to the fear gas was split down the middle for me though.  I loved Robin's, but Batman's came off too odd to me and it feels like a missed opportunity to really show something that I don't know has ever been shown in this series, but it is what it is.  Really, my main complaint is that this story arc wasn't longer because a big bad like Scarecrow deserves to be given more panel play, especially for his debut.  I loved the art in this book and think that it really suits this series so I hope to see Lukas Ketner on this title for awhile and I can't wait to see what Jeff Parker brings to the table next.

Bits and Pieces:

Holy nightmares Batman, it's the Scarecrow's debut!  I love the inclusion to this character to this series and the fun that Jeff Parker gives to this origin story, but my main complaint is that this is all we get.  A one and done.  Hopefully though, Jeff Parker continues to add to Batman's rogues of this world because so far I've loved every addition that we've gotten.


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