CREDITS: Written by Kelley Puckett; art by Mike Parobeck and Rick Burchett.
REVIEW: I don't know if Puckett is getting more comfortable or been given more leeway, but this issue has a lot of little references to people who've worked on the character (in all mediums), and even a psych major joke about Skinner and behaviorism. Showing some range!
But of course, these are asides. How's the story go? Well, it's a pretty great Scarecrow tale on the whole, one that gets to the heart of his psychosis - needing to be feared - and allows him some measure of success. Though Batman has terrifying dreams in this issue, I like that he's shown cowering before the Scarecrow without the need to make him hallucinate. The cognitive dissonance works well without it. And yes, why not trot out psychological terms here, as there's psychiatry conference in the issue, and that was Crane's profession. With Gothamites all having nightmares about the villain, conditioning them to fear his image, there's a chance to compare them to Bruce Wayne's traumatic flashbacks, and the issue actually ends on a sad not as Alfred realizes the dreams he's happy to do away with are his young master's constant burden.
But the issue does have plot problems. Most notably, the scientist who's beaming dreams into our heads comes out of nowhere and isn't punished for the part he plays. Was it that important to confirm the Scarecrow could not build these high tech machines alone? If that secondary villain had turned out to be JLA villain Dr. Destiny, at least. But we don't even learn his name. One minute Batman is detecting a suspicious transmission, the next he's discussing it with the nonplussed man. I also take issue with the way Batman figures out the fear only comes from the IMAGE of the Scarecrow. You see, he runs into a dark room, but that should only make his OWN image impossible to see. The Scarecrow highlighted in the doorway is quite visible. Ah well.
REREADABILITY: Medium - Plotting stumbles can't quite nullify the fun Scarecrow bits and the emotional ending.