By Andy Frisk
October 27, 2009 - 20:02
What are Superman, Batman, The Joker, and Lex Luthor's deepest fears? What a better day to find out than on the most potentially nightmarish night of the year? The Scarecrow has somehow managed to capture the two heroes and villains and is planning to bury them alive while they are under the influence of his most powerful fear gas. The gas induces a powerful nightmare, driven by each character’s worst and most deep seated fears, while they are, obviously, unconscious. Each hero and villain have varying fear induced nightmares that range from being reduced from a man of wealth and power to a lowly photographer, to not being taken seriously, to living a life that was destined not to be, to failing to save one’s loved ones from a fiery death. One of these men is a living, breathing embodiment of fear though, who has spent nearly a lifetime honing the skills necessary to horrify even the most deranged of the cowardly and superstitious lot that criminals are…
Writers Peter Johnson and Matt Cherniss concoct a special Halloween issue of Superman/Batman that revels in the holiday’s most prevalent characteristic, fear. What better villain to cause all the trouble than The Scarecrow, a self styled master of the emotion. Each of the four characters’ nightmares is drawn by a different artist, and they are sandwiched between the longer frame tale of The Scarecrow’s overall plot. Each characters’ nightmares have very little to do with ghosts, goblins, monsters, or ghouls, which are the atypical Halloween haunts, but instead reflect very real psychological fears that uniquely fit each characters’ personality and outlook. Obviously, the most heart-wrenching belongs to Superman, the most ironic belongs to The Joker, the most egomaniacal belongs to Luthor, and the darkest and most disturbing belongs to The Batman. Because The Batman’s nightmare is so dark and disturbing, his mind forcibly awakens him from it, just in time to put a stop to The Scarecrow’s plans.
Each artist does a great job penciling and inking their part of the issue. Each nightmare has the look of its characters’ mindset, mental state, and is a reflection of the type of hero/villain they are... The Joker’s is absurd, Superman’s is iconic, The Batman’s is riddled with insane facial expressions, and Luthor’s is crisp and fresh as a newly pressed shirt. It is the images of The Scarecrow in Gotham City Cemetery surrounded by flaming Jack o’ Lanterns that fit the Halloween theme best visually, and makes the most sense as the overarching tale is taking place on Halloween night.
Superman/Batman is a great series because it can step outside the characters’ current and ongoing continuity and deliver a simple, no plot threads attached, one off stories that can be read as stand alone tales. This series is also one of the best from DC Comics’ DC Universe line for showcasing special one shot holiday tales, and it takes full advantage of its October issue to spin a fun, darkly disturbing, and worthwhile Halloween tale.
Rating: 7 /10