Batman Kings of Fear #5
Written by: Scott Peterson
Art by: Kelley Jones
Colors by: Michelle Madsen
Letters by: Rob Leigh
Scott Peterson really went out on a limb with Batman Kings of Fear #5. Not in the sense that he wrote anything risqué. He really went all in with Scarecrow’s concept “Gotham would be great without Batman” idea. Scarecrow makes the claim Batman fighting his villains grants them legitimacy, which is why they continue to commit crime. This isn’t the first time this type of argument has been made. Pretty sure Jack Napier said something along those lines in Batman: White Knight—while he was possessing Gotham’s villains in the background.
It’s definitely an argument worth having, though I disagree with Scarecrow. However, the one thing Dr. Jonathan Crane does bring up that might be true is some of these villains might attack other places and leave Gotham be. Although, with all the organized crime Gotham had, it’s still a bit of a stretch.
(I guess the only way we can truly find out is if someone takes on the mantle in Ney York or Chicago or something. If supervillains pop up, then we know Scarecrow was right. It really is a no-brainer when you think about it.)
What’s really rich in Batman Kings of Fear #5 is each of Batman’s villains supposed accomplishments with him never existing. Bane dying and Penguin sticking to a life of crime are just about the only two believable “what if…” storylines that are remotely believable. Maybe the Riddler developing video games, too. But Mr. Freeze becomes a hero in the traditional sense? Poison Ivy saves the Rain Forest and makes amazing strides in the pharmaceutical world? Catwoman is label the American Mother Teresa? Joker is the greatest profiler in history? The biggest crock might be Scarecrow finding a “new” treatment for schizophrenia.
Look, these characters have the intellectual capabilities to become those things, no doubt. But to say Batman is the one thing standing between them being labeled brilliant versus insane is absurd. These people hated corporations, were struggling financially, raised by lunatics, the list goes on. You can’t just blame Batman for the birth of these criminals, not even the Joker. Batman knows that, the drugs have just distorted his perspective for the moment.
Now, where Scarecrow is absolutely right is there are a lot of other good things Bruce Wayne could have done had he never taken up the cowl. That’ no guarantee that things would be better, despite what Crane says, but Bruce would certainly have a different impact on the city.
Batman Kings of Fear #5 ends with Batman injecting himself with something. It might be more scarecrow juice, maybe something else? It’s hard to tell what, making it impossible to figure out exactly how this mini-series will wrap up.