Batman: Kings of Fear—the hardcover!

So the Batman: Kings of Fear hardcover is being released these week, and we've already got our first review...and it don't suck.
In this adventure, writer Scott Peterson focuses on Batman’s greatest fears and the hallucinogenic powers of the Scarecrow to enhance [Kelley] Jones’ idiosyncratic style. Every new twist encourages exaggeration and provides a narrative where readers would want to escape if it weren’t so well drawn. For any Bat-fans that missed this story in monthly publication, the arrival of this collection is a perfect chance to check out one of the most enthralling Bat-stories of 2019.
I assume it would be immodest of me to say I agree.

family issues

When I was writing the fifth issue of Batman: Kings of Fear, I decided it was in character for the Scarecrow—or, really, Doctor Jonathan Crane—to slip into a bit of French, perhaps channeling his fellow doctors, Frasier and Niles...Crane. (COINCIDENCE? Highly unlikely.)

But going over the lettering a few years later, I realized that the google translation I'd utilized when first writing the script might not be 100% reliable. (Please don't disappear me for impertinence, google.) So I went to an expert to have my slapdash French translation verified, someone who'd grown up speaking French, sometimes in French-speaking countries: my awesome nibling, Sam.

  1. Hey! YOU! I already wrote your mom but I'm not sure if she'll be checking email this late and then it occurred to me that, hey, my good pal Sam might speak French. you? kinda?
  2. And, if so, does this roughly translate?
  3. it's okay if it's not exact--he's not supposed to be fluent so much as pseudo-intellectual.
  4. Also too: hi! how are you?
  5. I do! a little! probably at least as well as Mom, anyway.
  6. the note i'd make is the h is silent, so generally it'd be "l'homme de chauve-souris"
  7. ah! most excellent!
  8. it's also a little. stiff, I guess? but no more than saying "the man of the bat" in English so it definitely has that pseudo-intellectual flair
  9. perfect

And thusly I was absolutely positive that my Scarecrow was suitably pseudo-intellectually flaired.

Thanks, Sam!

Gotham Adventures #26

Well, this SYFY piece about best Batman stories ever was a delightful surprise

It's always nice to be appreciated, of course. And a good review can be a delight. But when one of your very favorite creators pens an incisive and glowing piece about how great something you wrote was, well...that's pretty darn special. 
My favorite Batman stories are the ones that strike a balance between his mythological status and his humanity, and I think that's often demonstrated most effectively in the comics that are deliberately made accessible to kids. A great example is Batman: Gotham Adventures #26 by Scott Peterson and Tim Levins. 
The story, "In Arms," has a mystery he's solving as a detective, plenty of action, suspense, and humor, a great example of the extent to which his reputation precedes him and how he uses that to his advantage, a lovely acknowledgment of his connection to Alfred, and multiple illustrations of his compassion—all while he's carrying a baby around, Lone Wolf and Cub-style.  
There are probably more succinct ways of demonstrating who Batman is than showing him protecting a baby's life in increasingly hazardous situations while also holding it wrong, but I'm not sure there are better ones. One of his defining qualities for me has always been the extent to which he's had to sacrifice aspects of normal human development in order to become as extraordinary as he is. This story shows that very clearly while also underscoring how his decision to do things that way, while sometimes problematic, is unquestionably heroic.
This issue is by far the most re-Tumblr'd thing I've ever written, having been reblogged in various forms at least a half million times. I had no way of knowing, of course, that I'd strike such a nerve when I wrote the story: I think I simply had a new baby at home and, well, "write what you know" and all that. 

And, of course, it's the phenomenal art by Tim Levins that makes the story resonate the way it does. As is true for everything Tim draws. 

Batman: Kings of Fear #6 reviews

And so it comes to this: the final issue of Batman: Kings of Fear.

Hey, I wonder what people thought of it? Let's check in, shall we?


The ultimate title match is finally won, in this concluding issue of Batman: Kings Of Fear. This mini-series has been a revelation and – to my mind – the best Scarecrow story ever. Scott Peterson has used his decades as an DC Comics editor to plumb the psyches of both Jonathan Crane and Bruce Wayne. What he’s achieved in this mini series has really impressed an old and sometimes cynical comics fan. Anyone who’s read my reviews of issues 1- 5 will know that I wasn’t sure what Peterson was up to at first, and that this series seemed like nothing more than a vehicle to show off the considerable talents of Kelley Jones. I’m man enough to admit when I’m wrong. The writing on Kings of Fear is every bit as excellent as the art.
The concluding issue of Batman: Kings of Fear is an extremely satisfying conclusion to one of the most unique miniseries it has been our privilege to enjoy! From the retro feel of the art, to the thrilling deconstruction of Bruce Wayne's psyche, this is one Batman book that should be in every DC fans library! Yes, we're saddened to see this story end, and we sincerely hope Peterson and Jones will be back within Gotham City soon enough!
Rating: 5/5 - "A fascinating deconstruction of The Dark Knight's damaged psyche!"
Peterson and Jones’ Kings of Fear was a wonderful roller coaster of learning more about what makes Batman the hero he is and wants to be for Gotham. This arc is now one of my favorite Scarecrow stories (who is such an underrated villain) and falls in line with classics like Darwyn Cooke’s ‘Batman: Ego’. Any book that is so self reflective of the title hero and gives an honest look, for better or for worse, at if his vigilantism is a necessity is a series I would recommend to any Bat fan.
The Verdict: 10/10

Kelley Jones has been one of the most iconic Batman artists dating back to the 1990s, but he’s rarely lent his art to a story quite as good as this Batman/Scarecrow character drama. Essentially an extended group therapy session between hero and villain as Scarecrow attempted to break Batman down and make him believe his entire career as a superhero has been counterproductive, Batman: Kings of Fear #6 brings it all full circle and lets Batman confront the true consequences of his actions.
This series started as a Batman vs. Scarecrow battle but evolved into a brilliant look at what Batman truly means to Gotham. It may seem like a minimalist story, but under the surface is one of the smartest Batman stories I’ve read in a while.
Aptly titled “The Once and Future King,” the final chapter of Batman: Kings of Fear provides an appropriate ending to what has proven to be one of the more entertaining, and, perhaps, most visually impressive, Dark Knight deconstruction tales to date.

Scott Peterson has given us a fine character study of Batman and Gotham City itself. Coming into this last issue, I wanted Peterson to do something different and bold, mostly just because it’s out of continuity and he can. But what he gave us was endearing to the character of Batman. It broke down a character that is known for being fundamentally broken and then built him back up – making you understand why he does what he does. This series had been great.
This series has been a delightful discovery issue after issue. Originally, I had thought this was going to be a quaint, if somewhat nostalgic series after reading that first issue. It had classic Batman artist Kelley Jones after all, and he’s done solid work throughout the years. This however, is beyond anything he’s ever done. The power of the artwork here is unimaginable. When you combine that with a different type of story, you’ve got something truly wonderful indeed.
Peterson does a great job scripting this book. It’s smart without ever talking down to the audience. The writing also kept me on my toes right until the end. He doesn’t always rely on normal types of plots to tell his story and that’s incredibly refreshing. He also is confident enough to let the story and the characters breathe.
It’s really some powerful stuff. This story needs to be in my collection as a hardcover. It’s really that good and I commend the creative team for taking a chance and really just going for it. It paid off in an imaginative and creative way. RATING: A

Batman: Kings of Fear #6 is easily the best entry in the entire mini-series.
In previous issues, the alternative positive realities for Batman’s Rogues Gallery were certainly entertaining. However, I found the narrative Scott Peterson has constructed to disprove this fear more interesting. It is so easy to get caught up in the grandiose schemes that we often forget Batman’s effect on the common criminal. It’s in these moments that not only Batman: Kings of Fear #6, but the entire miniseries as a whole, thrives.
This presents the reader with a fresh, interesting perspective. Ultimately, Batman: Kings of Fear #6 is a fitting end for the mini-series. The slow nature of the plot will benefit greatly when read in a collected form. Scott Peterson’s character work with the Dark Knight is exemplary as he delves into the character’s fears. Additionally, Kelley Jones’ artwork is enough of a reason to pick up the issue.

This spot on mini series comes to a close in all of the right ways. Peterson and Jones have deliver quite a ride with this story and this final chapter does so many things right in finishing it out.
What I loved about this story was that it was in many ways more about Bruce and Gotham than it was a traditional Batman story. In a simple way it was a day in the life of Batman’s nightmare and the one thing that it did very well was elevate Scarecrow as a villain to a very strong adversary that he had never quite attained before. Peterson really went deep into not only Batman but his long mythology but never let it overwhelm the story and kept it focused and well paced.
I have said it before and I will say it again, that if you haven’t been reading this mini series then you have missed one of the best and more off beat Batman stories in years. Peterson and Jones to both risks and different approach to this story and has paid off handsomely. With this final chapter wrapping the story up to a very satisfying conclusion that far exceeded my expectations and with Jones on the book you know that bar is set very high for me.
This is a truly must read book and gets my HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION!

I feel like Peterson has done—and in this issue, continues to do—an excellent job with a high-mileage Batman trope. This story could easily have felt like a rehashed plot, revived only so that Kelley Jones could draw Batman again; but it didn’t. Instead of giving us lots of Bruce navel-gazing, Peterson lets three allies counter the Scarecrow’s thesis. I won’t spoil what was said, or who said it, on the off-chance you haven’t read this yet, but it is in these rebuttals that this issue’s greatest strength lies. Two of them are testimonies of actual events in which Batman had a far-reaching positive effect, but the final—and most stirring—is the “last word” of the book: one that is perhaps more emotional than logical, but is probably also the most convincing.
So many Batman comics come out every year, so many Batman comics blend into each other, so many Batman comics go unnoticed. Batman: Kings of Fear is not one that falls into any of those categories, it has carved its path to be a quick be decorated books with many twists and turns. The ending was, in my opinion, the exact way a Batman comic should end, with another call coming in, another problem to solve, another reason to put on the cowl and bring justice to the city he serves so well.


I’ve been reading Batman books for over forty years and I can’t recall ever having an ending to a Bat-tale with such a smooth delivery of what the character means to others and himself. A fantastic conclusion to a great series. The visuals are the reason to pick this up, but my hat’s off to writer Peterson for having such a perfectly executed conclusion for the characters and the reader. This was a fun series and I will repurchase it once it comes out in hardcover. This is a great series to give to non-comic readers to hook them. Overall grade: A

Gotham Adventures #46: Scarface, the Ventriloquist and Their Creators

My youngest two kids have been going through my Gotham Adventures comics, reading most of them for the first time. Which has led to me reading some of them for the first time this decade. I used to be amused when fans—or pros—would come up to Dennis O'Neil and ask him about stuff he'd written, and how often had little to no memory of the story in question; he'd written so many that he just couldn't remember them all, especially since many of them he hadn't even seen since he first sent the original script off. Meanwhile, those fans—and pros—(and I) had often read and re-read those issues over and over, sometimes as recently as the day before, so they were completely fresh in the mind. I was amused but a bit baffled. 

Well, I'm not a legend like Denny, and I haven't written anywhere near as many issues, but now I have some idea of what it was like for him. Because I had no memory of putting the amazing creative team of Alan Grant, John Wagner and Norm Breyfogle—the creators of Scarface and the Ventriloquist, one (two?) of their many great creations—into an issue of The Gotham Adventures. And yet, I opened it up, and suddenly there they are. 

And then it came back to me. Because I dimly recalled that for some reason I didn't tell my magnificent penciller, Tim Levins, that he was going to be drawing Alan, John and Norm. Nor did I provide photo reference. Instead, I described them. Why? I don't remember. Maybe I was afraid someone at DC wouldn't let us do it?

So I just wrote this:
Batman lands on the other side of Scartriloquist, bowling over two of the five or six men he’s got with him on this here job, three of whom (including the two bowled over) are holding bags o’ money and whichever two you choose to show here also happen to be holding the manager of the bank. The manager’s an African-American woman of fifty-two years who looks very business-like. The three gangsters, who will collectively be referred to as Our Three Mooks, although they will occasionally be joined by others (taking the Red Shirt role from Star Trek) are: 
ALAN, a five foot nine, slightly-built gentleman with light brown hair which just touches his shoulders; Alan’s got a dangly ear-ring and wears John Lennon spectacles. Moreover, he looks like the love child of John Lennon and John Hurt; he does not, however, look just like John (or Julian) Lennon. 
Mobster #2 is JOHN, a heavily-built, but not fat, guy who’s about six four. He’s got a squarish head and shaggy dark brown hair that’s not long but could use a trim; he looks like the love child of Chris Noth and Paul Sorvino. 
Last comes NORMAN, about five ten, usually wear muscle t-shirts and shorts; he’s not big but is very well-muscled and looks like he could hold his own in the Australian outback; he’s got long dark brown hair in a ponytail.
And in return got this:

When I got the pencils I was, of course, delighted.  

I didn't really try to capture their actual speaking styles, per se—rather, I went for rough approximations in a very broad manner. There's no sign of Alan's Scottish burr, for instance. And Norm didn't really sound like a California surfer dude. I just decided to exaggerate the incongruity for comedic effect, so I made two of them unusually eloquent for a couple of mooks, while the third would be unusually laid-back. Besides, it was sorta my own private tribute, so versimilitude wasn't necessarily of parmount importance.

It's funny that this is one of the few issues I ever wrote that had Scarface and Ventriloquist and yet, due to story demands, didn't show Scarface getting maimed or mutalated—something that was always delightful to do, because you could. Scarface was (obviously) made out of wood, and not flesh and bone, so creators were able to treat him in really reprehensible ways. And were generally delighted to do so. Almost any time I set part of a story in Arkham, I'd have Scarface there, and quite often, he'd get his head ripped off and tossed around, or impaled by a batarang or something gruesome yet humorous like that. Not here, though: because he was the focus of the story, and because it leaned a bit more heavily than usual on the pathos, we had to keep him intact. Ah, well. The sacrifices we make for our art.

Opening up the book the other day brought several different emotions. As always, extreme pleasure when I see Tim's art. Amusement when I saw Alan, John and Norm. Nostaliga for the days of working with those talented gentlemen. And maybe most of all, sadness that I hadn't remembered to send this to Norm when he was alive.

Mark Millar reviews The Gotham Adventures

A pal just sent me a review of The Gotham Adventures from way back when. It's a really nice review, but what makes it truly noteworthy is that it was written by superstar writer Mark Millar, back when he was still pretty new himself, and well before his days on The Authority.
Again, one of the buried treasures since it started. It's almost a cliche, but the Adventures books really do tend to be better than the core titles and incredibly underrated. I thought this would take a dip after the departure of the brilliant Ty Templeton, but Scott Peterson has really made this book his own. It's a shame more people aren't reading this. Peterson's another guy who should get a crack at the core titles and they could do a lot worse than Burchett on the art.
I don't know what issue he was reviewing, but it seems to have been published around November 2001, which means it might have been Gotham Adventures #44.

I opened on something not at attention-grabbing:

Oh, Tim Levins. No matter what I asked for, you always made it look so much better than I dared could have dreamt. That last page is comic book storytelling perfection. And the weird worm's eye view of the first panel of the previous page? Fantastic.

Kelley Puckett once teased me for these kinds of really blatantly obviously heartstrings-tugging openings. I ignored him. And then turned him into a villain.

(And of course, Millar was right about Ty the Guy's brilliance—I really truly believe that Ty's on the shortlist for Most Talented Creator in the history of the medium. He once wrote and illustrated a one panel comic for DC's in-house magazine that showed what looting during a blackout would look like in Gotham, and it remains one of my very favorite Batman-related pieces ever ever ever.)

Truckus Maximus

So this just happened:
In a world where the Roman Empire never fell, gladiators are enslaved teenagers racing monster trucks on reality TV. How can you resist? by + illustrated by is coming to bookshelves in October 2019!

I am beyond delighted to finally be able to talk about Truckus Maximus, an original graphic novel that will be published by First Second Books in October. Written by me, illustrated by the amazing José Garcia, it’s nearly 300-pages of speculative fiction that’s been in the works for years. (Pencilling, inking, coloring and lettering 288 pages takes a while.)

I'll be writing more—much more!—about Truckus in days to come. For now I'm just excited that it's no longer a secret!

Batman: Kings of Fear #6 preview

And here we are, (almost) at the very end of the road. The previews for the final issue are out, and it's a bittersweet feeling.

It's sweet because the artwork by Kelley Jones (with Michelle Madsen and Rob Leigh) is gorgeous as always. And I'm incredibly happy with how it came out. And it's satisfying that it's finally concluded. But it's bitter because the journey, which started back in the summer of 2014, has been so doggone much fun.

On the other hand...well...just look at these pages:

And, I suppose, as consolation, there's always our next project, already in the works...

Batman: Kings of Fear #5 reviews

Do we have reviews? Oh, we have reviews:
What would life be like without the Dark Knight? Scott Peterson and Kelley Jones answers this classic question with a brilliant and refreshing breakdown that even makes the reader wonder if this fan-favorite hero is a necessity for a damaged city such as Gotham.
While there have been stories that wonder what this reality would be like if Batman wasn’t around, Peterson’s extremely detailed look into how the citizens, good and bad, of this tragic city would thrive for the better is spectacular.


This has been a series that I wasn’t too excited about initially, but it has won me over since with a strong story and some really excellent visuals. Having now read this fifth chapter of the story, I am thinking this might actually end up being a classic.
Peterson writes an amazing story. It’s an emotional ride into the deepest recesses of Batman’s mind. Eventually the hallucinations get so bad it becomes borderline insane.
This issue ends on one of the darkest notes I’ve been seen in a comic book.
This is a descent into madness and it takes that decent very seriously. And that’s something to truly be commended. This is simply a comic book that is fantastic.


Last issue was an sensational issue written by Scott Peterson getting into what makes Batman tick. Now the caped crusader has to see how Gotham would be different if Batman never existed.
The final line: This is a must-read, must-own Batman book. The story is fantastic and the visuals are to die for. I’ve read Batman comics for years and I’ve not seen Batman’s psyche so focused on with such mind blowing artwork. Seriously, this is the Batman to get. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+

This was an amazing issue. It's something that I can actually wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who hasn't even read the previous four issues of the series. Just jump on and read this, and you'll be delighted.
Peterson's take on Scarecrow is one of the fresher perspectives on the character I've seen in the last few years, and is a major reason as to why this series has been really working for me. The lightness and the humour in the story despite the deep delve into why Batman shouldn't exist is a contrast that surprisingly works for me. This is just fantastic. Everyone should be reading this; Peterson's dialogue is expert and Jones' artwork is some of the best of the year.


I’m not even going to try to keep you all in suspense. I’m just going to say it. Batman: Kings of Fear, so far at least, is hands down my favorite Batman series on stands right now.
What I appreciate about Peterson and Jones’s approach to the story is that they maintain such a fine balance between creating a deep character study and still keeping it light and easy to read. In other words, the creative team dives deep enough but knows where to draw the line. I think they could have easily turned this into a convoluted psychoanalytical book, but such a story is probably a tough sell. Instead, they create a fun and engaging narrative that has me on the edge of my seat all the way through. I think that this fine balance and the overall quality of the story mainly comes from the chemistry that Peterson and Jones share. To tell a story in comic form the writer and the artist need to be on the same page, trusting each other to tell the story in such a way that the text and the art can’t be separated from each other. By extension, because there is such chemistry between the creators, it would be nearly impossible to replace the writer or the artist with someone else. I’ll give an example in just a moment, but first I need to explain a couple more things in order to really get my point across.
Without giving away what happens on the final pages, I can say this much: it is a cliffhanger that literally had me jump up from my seat and throw my hands in the air. As the creative team manages to turn the character of Batman upside-down through Scarecrow, they also manage to turn this entire comic upside-down with that final panel.

Wow. Deep stuff… and all from the glossy pages of a comic-book. Yet this issue isn’t just existential angst and philosophical debate, this is entertainment, this is art and this is 100% Batman.
Writer Scott Peterson and artist Kelley Jones are 90% through their epic tale of fear and terror. They have provided us with five issues of incredible emotion, nightmarish horror and true blue heroism. I have to say that this story could go down as the greatest Scarecrow tale of them all.
Though we know heroes always win in the end, I truly feel that any victory Batman may yet glean will come at a cost. This series has been so well executed that I even fear he may not win at all. I eagerly, yet tentatively, look forward to the final chapter of this excellent series.


We've loved Batman: Kings Of Fear since the beginning, and every time a new issue hits newsstands, our love for this miniseries grows stronger and stronger! Jones and Peterson have created a beautiful love letter to the Batman books of the 80's and 90's - one that's unafraid to peel back the layers of the Batman's subconscious and have one of the world's most popular heroes face some very real, hard truths! Sure, it may not be for everyone, but it's sure to offer something unique, fun and fascinating to those looking for something a little different! We'll be sad to see this one come to an end, but we're certain that the dynamic duo of Kelly Jones and Scott Peterson have something that will deliver in a very big way! 

With all of the Batman comics being published sometimes some get a little lost in the shuffle but hopefully you have been reading my reviews of this wonderfully offbeat book that has taken a very different approach to the Batman mythology. It has been a mix of both what if and a deep psychological mind f**k that break from the traditional approach that a lot of Batman stories tell. Peterson really goes deep into Bruce’s subconscious this issue and nearly breaks the man but the real question is Scarecrow just toying with him or is he actually trying to help him. That is what has made this story so fascinating is you’re not sure what is real or hallucinations. He never takes the easy path with the story in the sense that it just a dream and that in fact this might be what is buried deep down in Bruce’s deepest depths of his soul. Peterson really plays the devil's advocate story quite well here and never gives you the answers. It lets you the reader take away what you want from it that is quite impressive for a Batman story. I honestly can’t imagine any other artist that could pull off this mind trip as well as Jones has done here.
Is this book worth your time and money? This is one of those comics that continues to surprise me and that is pretty hard to come up with a truly unique Batman story in today's comics. Peterson and Jones are delivering a story that cuts deep and takes a uniquely different approach to Batman. It’s a book that continues to surprise and impress and quite frankly keeps you on the edge of your seat. At this point I honestly can't wait to see where it all ends next issue. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION!


Incidentally, this bit?
I think that this fine balance and the overall quality of the story mainly comes from the chemistry that Peterson and Jones share. To tell a story in comic form the writer and the artist need to be on the same page, trusting each other to tell the story in such a way that the text and the art can’t be separated from each other. By extension, because there is such chemistry between the creators, it would be nearly impossible to replace the writer or the artist with someone else.
Could not possibly be more on the money. I think Kelley and I had more back-and-forth, more give-and-take on this series than either of us has ever had with any other co-creator. And the results were not only all the stronger for it, it was also just ever so much fun.