Incapable of distinguishing reality from lucid hallucination, Batman must battle the Scarecrow against a Gotham City skyline darkened by perpetual night. Unfortunately, the victor of this battle cannot be determined by merely throwing hands. Only through confronting his personal demons will the Dark Knight be able to achieve victory and return the villain to the confines of his padded cell. Do Scott Peterson and Kelley Jones use Batman Kings of Fear #3 to accurately assess the Dark Knight’s mental health or should our beloved Caped Crusader get a second opinion?
“You Really Spend your Nights this Way? Watching Over Nobodies?”
Picking up with Batman’s journey toward becoming a blood-soaked, pavement pancake, Batman: Kings of Fear #3 makes some necessary adjustments to move past the shortcomings of the previous issue. Once again, Scott Peterson plays on Batman’s insecurities as a hero by having the villain relieve him of his one true super power (beyond the boatloads of cash): a superior mind. This enables Scarecrow to inspire fear by toying with the Dark Knight’s perception of reality. Scott Peterson truly succeeds with Batman: Kings of Fear #3 when examining the titular hero’s greatest fears.
Following a year of grandiose Batman stories where the Caped Crusader’s greatest fears and darkest desires were brought to life in an epic, Multiverse-spanning crisis, Scott Peterson chooses to take a quieter approach toward this topic. With a roster of rogues featuring themes ranging from clowns to condiments, Batman has seen it all. As a result, it would only seem natural that Batman’s greatest fear would be some horrific amalgamation of these terrors. (Perhaps he would be terrified of eating at a McDonald’s? I know my colon is afraid of that.) Scott Peterson bucks this notion by choosing something more poignant and relevant to Batman’s character.
I think it speaks volumes, and provides an additional layer of character depth, that Batman’s greatest fear would be related to protecting children. More specifically, it seems that preventing what happened to him as a child from traumatizing anyone else is his reason for existence. As readers, we are accustomed to reading Batman’s greatest exploits involving his most deadly villains. Scott Peterson takes care to illustrate that on most nights Batman isn’t hunting members of his infamous Rogues Gallery, but rather protecting Gotham’s citizens from less sensationalized crime. Scarecrow’s reaction to this realization provides the humor required to make these uneventful moments interesting for the reader.
“I Did Not Enjoy That. Do Not Do That Again.”
One of the largest issues that I have with this miniseries so far is with the slow pace. We are already halfway through the series and I’m not entirely sure I understand Scarecrow’s motivations or endgame. Scott Peterson and Kelley Jones have used the villain to explore Batman as a character, but after three issues I could see where the slow pace combined with uneventful crime fighting would be a turn off for some readers.
Kelley Jones’ art continues to be a highlight of the series. Jones’ pencils combined with Michelle Madsen’s colors are the perfect combination for conveying the menace Batman imposes from the shadows. Visually, their Batman is a King of Fear. Ultimately, there is no need for a second opinion. Scott Peterson and Kelley Jones use Batman Kings of Fear #3 to aptly assess the Dark Knight’s greatest fear and provide depth to the character in spite of the story’s slow burn.