Well, I’ve reached the 200th trade from “the shelf”, and this is it. Not too shabby for less than a year’s work. I knew this milestone was approaching, and a part of me had hoped it would work out that the 200th trade would be something super important. As it stands (for now, since Mistah J is constantly adding comics to his collection) this story holds the distinction of being number 200.
As the Crow Flies features Penguin employing Scarecrow to create a new fear toxin so that he may control the crime families in Gotham. With every major mob boss fearing Penguin, he figures he can rule over the city. It’s a neatly contained little story arc, and that’s the problem with it. It’s too self-contained.
There are literally no extraneous characters in this comic. We don’t see anyone from the GCPD, not even nameless officers, nor do we see any of the typical extended Bat family. We get Batman, a brief appearance by Robin, and Alfred. That’s it.
That being said, I’ve certainly read comics where this style can work. It’s just that in this case it felt a little too predictable.
What I liked:
-The artwork. It wasn’t revolutionary, but it felt like a classic artistic styling that hearkened back to comics of old. It’s vintage with just a touch of modernity.
-The brief moments of levity. Given that Batman has very few interactions with his partners in these pages, it was nice to see that when he does, the moments aren’t wasted, and we’re left believing that there might actually be a sort of friendship between Batman and Robin.
Some may think these moments detract from the overall dark image of Batman, but they’re a vital component to the comic. Robin follows Batman into battle time and time again. We need to see the interpersonal relationship play out between the two of them, otherwise Robin is nothing better than a blind follower, putting his faith into a symbol. The human side helps make the Bat-family feel more like a family and less like a cult.
What I didn’t like:
-The lack of extraneous characters made the comic feel wholly predictable.
Crane’s assistant is the only character brought into the story who doesn’t seem to serve a key role; so, obviously she’s the bad guy. It was a little too easy to figure out, and took away from the overall mystery.
-The story has a certain penchant for using characters to summarize what’s just happened in an all-too convenient and unbelievable way.
Aka, “Okay readers, here’s what we’re dealing with in this new character now, since we couldn’t really figure out how to fit it into the storyline organically.” This goes back to the basic, “show, don’t tell” principle of storytelling, and there were simply one too many moments like this where explanations felt forced and contrived.
Overall, not the worst Batman story I’ve ever read, but also not my favorite. There’s certainly potential here, and it’s a simple enough story that although it’s tied up easily enough at the end, it still leaves an opening for characters to make reappearances. I liked certain aspects, I disliked others. For now I’m just filing this story away in my mind as “just another Batman story, but may serve a greater purpose down the road.”