With a recent focus on the Scarecrow in “Batman: The Dark Knight,” it makes sense that “Detective Comics #23.3: Scarecrow” isn’t a rehash of his origin. Instead, Peter J. Tomasi and Szymon Kudranski take readers on a tour of Gotham City with the Scarecrow as guide, illustrating what a lot of the other villains up until this point have done to various portions of Gotham City. It’s not a bad idea, but it’s unfortunately less than enthralling.
“Detective Comics” #23.3 really is just a walking tour of Gotham City, with the Scarecrow stopping in on acquaintances like Mr. Freeze, the Riddler, Poison Ivy and Killer Croc. Some encounters are better than others, with the Scarecrow and Riddler scene in particular standing out. It helps that both characters work the mind (if in vastly different ways) and the end result is a confrontation that plays into the strengths of both characters. Others, like Mr. Freeze, feel overly long and drawn out. Tomasi tries to spice things up a bit by including a henchman for Scarecrow, but that story never quite clicks and in the end “Detective Comics” #23.3 feels like it never quite gets started.
I do appreciate Kudranski’s art here, although even it doesn’t quite gel all the time. A book starring Scarecrow needs a dark and dingy look and most of the time the art hits those notes but is still easy to follow. Every once in a while, though, Kudranski and John Kalisz’s collaboration becomes a little too murky — almost muddy in its lack of clarity. Still, moments like Killer Croc zooming through the air look great, and the final two-page spread of Gotham City with different regions seized by various villains is a fun little “map” of the new landscape.
“Detective Comics” #23.3 is ultimately a slightly unremarkable book. It might have almost achieved its goal a bit better as one of those “Secret Files” comics from years ago, serving up the same information without trying to provide an extended narrative. I appreciate what Tomasi and Kudranski were going for, but ultimately the problem is that the idea just doesn’t lend itself to a 20-page story.