Writer: Steve Niles. Artist: Kelley Jones
It’s almost Spooktober! Let’s celebrate it by talking about a scary Batman tale. In 2008, DC Comics released the first issue of Batman: Gotham After Midnight. Writer Steve Niles and artist Kelley Jones makes Gotham a grim city that Batman must cleanse in this dark story arc.
The issue begins with Batman creeping through a shadowy alleyway. Jones draws Batman’s movements as if he were Dracula. He moves swiftly from shadow to shadow. Batman begins an inner discussion about the first time that he said the iconic quote: “I’m Batman.” He discusses this mentally as he slips inside an antique building after Scarecrow. Scarecrow is in an all brown outfit with menacing red eyes. Scarecrow is slim with long limbs. His brown hat is similar to a wizard or witch’s hat. Scarecrow is looking to steal the Hand of Glory.
What’s weird is Scarecrow is carrying matches. Not his usual M.O. Batman punches Scarecrow and asks him what’s he up to. Scarecrow tries to douse him in fear toxin, but Batman is immune. Batman gets Crane to breathe in his own toxin by removing his mask. Jones makes this panel frightening as he portrays Crane as losing his mind due to his own toxin. Batman is menacing in this scene as he gives Crane a taste of his own medicine. Crane sees Batman as a gigantic monstrous bat. Batman defeats Scarecrow, then ties him up as the G.C.P.D. arrive.
Batman traverses the rooftops as he realizes that Scarecrow has gone astray from his usual criminal patterns. Batman’s years of experience helped him come to the conclusion that all insane criminals have repeated patterns. I like this analysis that Steve Niles gives through Batman. I never have thought that criminals have patterns that are the same. When thinking about it, it can be true. Riddler is always making puzzles. Catwoman is always stealing. The theory makes sense.
At midnight, in this first issue, things get weird. All of these evil people start to appear in the city. Batman gets a tip on the Axeman, who escaped Arkham Asylum with Scarecrow. He goes to hunt for him inside of an abandoned warehouse. He gets jumped by guys with plenty of guns. They all unload on Batman. He drops to the ground lifeless. Is the Bat dead? Niles leaves readers with a pleasing shocker at the end of the issue.