to fear or not to fear

So the reviews for Batman: Kings of Fear #3 have been pretty great, by and large. (Although there have been a few pans of each of the issues so far, something which delights one Kelley Jones no end, especially since the pans and the raves both say more or less the same thing.)

But the scene that's been called out more than any other—possibly than all the others combined—is the scene with the little girl.

I had already sent Kelley the first draft of the script, which had the beginning, the ending and the middle...but I had deliberately left the script several pages short, as I did all the scripts in the series, so Kelley could say where he thought we could expand a scene, or perhaps add a scene.

I was pacing around the backyard in San Diego talking about this issue. "It's fine," Kelley assured me. "I really like it."

I wasn't sure. I thought it was missing something. He accused me of never being satisfied with my work, which isn't untrue. He then pointed out that when it came to stories, my focus was often on the structure, making things were air-tight, that everything had been properly set up, and anything set up had been properly paid off, all of which was, again, true. Whereas he tended to care about the moments, that handful of bits that you immediately thought of when you recalled a story.

We got to talking about someone out on the street at night, late, who sees the Batman and maybe the Dark Knight doesn't even see them, much less interact with them; it's somewhere between nothing and virtually nothing to the Batman and yet to that other person it's a life-changing moment. Like those two drunken idiots fighting after closing time who stop what they're doing, frozen, terrified, merely by the Batman's presence.
I have the feeling Kelley said something about how terrifying the Batman is, how he can't help but be, because he's so physically imposing but, just as vital, he's so powerful on an emotional and (if you do actually interact with him) an intellectual level as well. Obviously, his costume has a tremendous amount to do with that, and intentionally so, but so does...well, basically everything about him, from his towering size to his ominous bearing to his generally threatening aura; as I said, pretty much everything about him. And we talked about despite the fact that the Batman had cultivated all that for years, how sometimes he perhaps has to deliberately try to turn it off, and how hard that might be for him, especially on this one night of all nights.

I said, "I gotta go" and hung up and ran inside and about half an hour later I sent Kelley the script for this scene and he said, "yeah, that's pretty much what I meant."

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