We're All Just Little Children
The cover for this issue is utterly boring, and it doesn't capture the same rough and scraggily tone of the interior art. The cover is incredibly generic, and while nothing about it is genuinely 'bad,' nothing about it is particularly good or noteworthy. However, like last issue, Finch has really stepped up the stylism of his artwork to perfectly suit the arc. Particularly, anything fabric looks AMAZING.
This issue clears up a lot of the confusion and concerns of the previous issue. It now makes a lot more sense to realize that the only villain we've seen thus far in this arc is Scarecrow, Boogeyman and Hollow Man were just alternate nicknames that helped to increase the theatrics and tone of Scarecrow's actions. The other big thing to notice here is that although Scarecrow's backstory is altered quite a bit, it still keeps to the same tone as the original, and makes him a little more unstable and insane without undermining the character; unlike Batman Annual. The sewn together lips work well with the sack hood, and everything. But the biggest change is to his childhood, where he was a horrendously unfortunate guinea pig of his father's experiments in fear, his father highly resembling Pre-New 52 Scarecrow from before he donned that persona. It's clear that Scarecrow was so horribly traumatized as a child, that his broken mind likely reassembled itself into a position of power, emulating his father and carrying on his work.
But something happens here that threatens to tip his already unstable psyche. He's been reenacting his father's work much more directly here by experimenting on young and innocent children, and yet stopping himself from reliving the trauma by only using little girls. But the compassionate words of a little girl throw him off his game. It's basically seeing the one option a young Jonathan Crane never could've conceived of, genuine compassion for the towering bringer of nightmares. Scarecrow buries these emotions for now, but it's clear this little girl will have a huge impact on him as this arc goes on. It's a brilliant and subtle exploration of some truly disturbing psychology.
Furthermore, Scarecrow's broken mind has painted Batman as the replacement of his father. Scarecrow is simultaneously reenacting both parties from his childhood trauma in the present, taking the role of the sadistic authority as he experiments on kids, and yet standing up to the fear-striking authority of Batman as a young Jonathan Crane always ached to be able to do. By making Batman feel fear, he's going to make 'daddy' feel fear.
In Conclusion: 4.5/5
This was a great sign for the future of the series under Gregg Hurwitz's pen, with a brilliant and VERY intensive psychological exploration of a villain who is a psychologist himself. It's a little bit meta, but mostly it's just dark, painful, and deep.