As the Crow Flies

Author: Judd Winick
Artists: Dustin Nguyen and Richard Friend
Titan Books
RRP 8.99
ISBN 1 84576 914 X
Available 22 April 2005

Gotham City's underworld is thrown into turmoil as its crimelords start slipping into a rapid - and murderous - frenzy. Is it just a coincidence or part of an elaborate and sinister power play? One thing's for sure: the machinations of the Scarecrow and the Penguin will have Batman hard-pressed to restore order. Worse, Batman may have met his match in the vicious Scarebeast!...

As the Crow Flies is a short, but very sweet, tale from the Batman universe. Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot (Penguin) has hired the services of Jonathan Crane (Scarecrow) to instil fear into his enemies. However, when a seemingly unstoppable Scarecrow like beast starts systematically killing all of Gotham's crime families the real Scarecrow is just as surprised as everyone else. Who is this new threat to Gotham's peace and how can he be stopped?

This story packs a meaty punch. For those who like to dip in and out of the Batman universe, you'll be glad to hear that you don't need a PhD in Batlore in order to follow the events that unfold here. It has a very tight beginning, middle and end. Heck, even if you are not familiar with Penguin and Scarecrow (where have you been?) there is a handy refresher at the start of this collection. In fact the only slight bit of information you may need to be aware of is that Jason Todd was the second Robin and was killed in action by the Joker.

The script and artwork are fantastic - the larger than life Scarecrow is particularly creepy - unlike Crane's rather comical bloke in a Wizard of Oz costume. I loved the fact that Scarecrow is made to take of his "idiotic costume" by the Penguin - and spends his entire time stuck in a lab coat.

In the best Scooby-Doo style, the real villain is unmasked in the end and will, no doubt, be a bit of a surprise - it was to me anyway.

And to sprinkle sugar on the top, the ending has a spooky little twist. What more could you ask for?

Darren Rea

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