Batman: As The Crow Flies is written by Judd Winick, with artwork by Dustin Nguyen and Richard Friend. This book is notable as being the debut of Dustin Nguyen’s artwork in the DC Universe. The Trade Paperback collects the comic book issues Batman #626 – #630, beginning in April of 2004.
One of the most underrated villains in the Batman comics and the one with perhaps the most potential has always been Dr. Jonathan Crane, the Scarecrow. Often portrayed as a modern day Ichabod Crane of Sleepy Hollow, the original story by Hawthorne and not the glamorized version on television; Jonathan is a timid academic whose development of the fear toxin has enabled him to fight back against the bullies that have terrorized him his whole life. As the Scarecrow, Crane is empowered with ability to turn fear into a weapon.
In As The Crow Flies, criminals are turned into raging and murderous berserkers, until finally collapsing in death. Batman quickly realizes that they have somehow been drugged and that this is in fact a takeover of the Gotham underworld. There is only one player with the pull to try such an act, Oswald Cobblepot, the Penguin. Masquerading himself as a legitimate businessman, the Penguin has been quietly taking over the crime families of Gotham’s Underworld. But killing off the heads of the families was never his intention. Now, a ten foot tall murdering beast has been loosed and is tearing apart the gangsters with it’s bare hands. A ten foot beast in the form of a Scarecrow.
As the Crow Flies has several moments where we can see glimpses of where the Batman storyline is heading. The aberration that is the evolution of the Scarecrow creates a character far more vicious in its methods. Crane literally becomes a monster. Cobblepot becomes the head of the Gotham Underworld and while he was always dangerous, his character prior to this has always been something of a caricature of a serious villain.
There is also a hint when Batman is under the influence of the toxin, of the return of Jason Todd. This is in 2004, a full year before Jason is revived.
As The Crow Flies introduces for the first time, the character of Linda Friitawa aka Fright.
Overall this is a very well written tale that has serious implications for the Batman Universe to come. Unfortunately, the many DC reboots since then have rendered them null and void. Hopefully some to these seeds will be revisited and allowed to grow.