Wednesday, May 8, 2013
SHADOW OF THE BAT #16 - Early September 1993
The God of Fear - Part One
Credits: Alan Grant (writer), Bret Blevins (penciler), Mike Manley (inker), Todd Klein (letterer), Adrienne Roy (colorist)
Summary: Scarecrow rents a hall at Gotham University under an assumed name. He’s recognized by Herold, a student whose father was killed by Scarecrow ten years earlier. Scarecrow incapacitates him and uses his fear-based virtual reality program to brainwash the rest of the students. He declares that he’ll end religion and become the god of fear. Meanwhile, Anarky escapes juvenile hall and patrols the city. He decides that Batman is indirectly responsible for Gotham’s supervillains and vows to stop him.
Production Note: The Knightfall trade doesn’t reprint the title page from this issue, which means the full credits and title aren’t in the book.
I Love the ‘90s: Anarky claims that he was rewarded with shop duty in juvenile hall after telling the staff he’s “glad the Democrats won.”
Review: For anyone who might be unaware, Shadow of the Bat was the fourth monthly Batman title, launched in the summer of 1992 to coincide with the release of Batman Returns. Batman ended up with a fourth monthly title for the same reason Spider-Man received one -- the market was incredibly strong at the time and retailers wanted more product from the major franchises. Like Legends of the Dark Knight, Shadow of the Bat was a higher-quality format series that consisted of self-contained arcs that rarely had anything to do with Batman and Detective. However, while Legends of the Dark Knight was set in the past, and as fans later learned, not even considered in-continuity within DC (unless Denny O’Neil wrote the arc), Shadow of the Bat occurred in the present day. Not surprisingly, many fans drifted towards Shadow in favor of LODK, since it seemed to “count” in a way the previous spinoff did not. Shadow of the Bat was also nominally in-continuity, even if it rarely participated in any of the ongoing storylines at the time.
“Knightfall” was too large to be ignored, however, so now Shadow must find some way to incorporate the events of the past few months, while still remaining vaguely “standalone.” It’s obvious when the Shadow issues begin in the Knightfall trade because the pages are abruptly full-bleed, making the sides of the book look as if someone took a Sharpie to them. The actual stories are also an awkward fit, as someone has decided that this three-issue arc takes place after Detective #665. That’s the issue that ended with the new Batman already unhinged and pursuing his vendetta against Bane, while Robin’s father and Shondra are kidnapped and Bruce Wayne lies helpless in the Drakes’ lawn. This story has Jean-Paul still trying to follow Bruce’s wishes, Tim in no real distress, and presumably Bruce Wayne safe at home. There’s no numbering on the cover to indicate when this storyline should be taking place within the larger event, but clearly it’s before the last chapter the audience read.
As a story, there’s little more than setup. A nerdy college student is introduced who will presumably play a role in Scarecrow’s schemes, the new Batman has a few pages to go all Miller on a few hoods, and Alan Grant’s pet character Anarky is awkwardly shoehorned into the plot. The only real excitement comes from Bret Blevins’ art, although some readers might think his anorexic Scarecrow is a little too preposterous.