One of the things I appreciate about “Batman: The Dark Knight” #14 is how Gregg Hurwitz and David Finch have paced their story about the Scarecrow. It would have been easy for this issue to wrap things up, as Batman attempts to break free from the Scarecrow’s clutches even as Dr. Crane relives his own dark past. But instead, they don’t let it end quite so easily.
The first half of “Batman: The Dark Knight” #14 plays by the rules. Readers get the big confrontation between Scarecrow and Batman, and an escape that involves a rather large explosion to seemingly draw a line that declares a conclusion. Characters are recovering, the police are investigating the aftermath, and then — round 2. It’s at that point as a reader you’re going to straighten up in your chair and pay closer attention.
It’s a move on Hurwitz’s part that makes sense. Instead of a setback pushing a villain back into fictional storage for a year or two, one of his captives notes that everyone needs to be careful, because, “He’s mad now.” That’s when everything starts tumbling forward once more, and the Scarecrow’s plan expands from one that affects just a few kidnapped people to masses of people. It’s a logical, “What would happen next?” moment, and it’s what reinforces for me that Hurwitz is the right writer for this book.
The art in “Batman: The Dark Knight” #14 is fairly consistent. It’s dark and grimy, and there are moments that are definitely not for the faint-hearted (like what happens to the Scarecrow throughout this issue). The Scarecrow himself is probably the crowning achievement of Finch’s art, though. The moment where he draws a tight close-up on his masked face as he barks, “Go,” is genuinely frightening, and this is ultimately a man with a burlap sack over his head. Finch’s interpretation of the character isn’t a radical revamp, but instead an accentuation of what makes the character look unsettling. It’s a wise approach; Finch is showing us that with the right attitude just about anything can look creepy.
“Batman: The Dark Knight” #14 continues its run as the darkest of the Batman family comics, but now that’s a good thing. It’s a little more violent and gory, but with Hurwitz and Finch working together I feel that it’s also telling stories for which it fits in a more appropriate manner. It’s nice to have this take existing, and this creative team is working together quite well.