We’re finishing up the second arc of Tim Drake’s introduction as Robin, where last time we learned our villain is Scarecrow.
Written by Alan Grant
Penciled by Norm Breyfogle
Inks by Steve Mitchell
Colors by Adrienne Roy
Letters by Todd Klein
Edited by Denny O’Neil
Batman #457 is available digitally from Amazon.com. Buying anything through that link helps to support the site.
We open with Scarecrow having Batman trussed up and dangling from the roof while he taunts The Bat. He has a wonderful Christmas present he was looking forward to unwrapping, and Batman’s presence just makes that better. He’s less happy about the presence of Vicki Vale, and he voices his appointment to Marcuse, before giving him his Christmas Bonus. It’s probably going to be murder.
Once Marcuse leaves, Scarecrow monologues to Batman & Vicki Vale about his plan – instead of fear gas, he has a drug that makes people open to suggestion – followed in-turn by planting suggestions of murder. However, that’s not what he has in mind for Batman. Crane has something… special in mind for him.
Meanwhile, Tim Drake speeds by cab to the warehouse that Batman and the Scarecrow are, with Marcuse and his goons passing him in the other direction. Marcuse opens the bonus envelope in the back of the car, and to the surprise of nobody reading this book gets a faceful of fear gas. He lunges for the driver, causing the car to hurtle out of control into a bunch of barrels of toxic waste, presumably as a Robocop reference.
Tim Drake arrives, jumps the fence, and lures two guards into a hut full of canisters of flammable gas and locks them in – presuming they have the good sense to not do anything that would set them off. Fortunately, in this instance he’s correct. Inside, Scarecrow has been giving Batman a Fear Gas tasting, and is moving from “Arachnid” to Crane #2 – “Essence de Trauma” – which leads to Batman once again being confronted by images of his parents’ death.
At this point, Tim slips on a red ski mask (which actually makes him look a lot like resurrected Jason Todd will later on), and bursts in carrying a pipe as a staff, creating enough of a distraction for Vicki Vale to break free. Unfortunately, Scarecrow is able to hit both Tim and Vicki with Crane #2. Tim is faced by The Obeah Man, while Vicki gets images of her puppy being run down when she was a child.
In Tim’s head, the spirits of Robins past compel him to act, and act he does, swinging his pipe and sending Scarecrow hurtling into a shelf of his own Fear Toxins, dosing him in a miasma of misery. Tim cuts Batman free and slips away before the Police arrive. After the cops collect Scarecrow and call an ambulance for Vicki, Batman returns to the Batmobile, where Tim is waiting.
Tim explains his action, and Batman tells him he made the right call. The story ends in the Batcave with Batman letting Tim know he’s earned the mantle of Robin, and the story ends with Robin in his new costume, for a new era.
This is a well-done storyline. It puts Tim up against one of the heavy hitters of Batman’s Rogues gallery for the first time. Speaking of which, I appreciate how well Scarecrow’s plan is executed here. Scarecrow is one of the members of Batman’s Rogues that I’ve always felt just as dangerous, if not more so, than The Joker, and this story gets that across incredibly well.
Also, I do appreciate the fact that Vicki Vale’s traumatic memory is utterly unrelated to sexual assault.
Next time, for the first time as Robin, Tim Drake flies solo in his first miniseries.