These four annual issue tie into Year One of Batman, and they are also one-shots. I have mixed feelings about this collection as three are origin stories and one isn’t. Poison Ivy’s issue isn’t all that interesting. It’s full of cheesy 90s comic dialog and is just a single conflict between her and Batman. It’s strange that her origin story isn’t in here, but Scarecrow and Riddler’s are. We also get the origin story of Man-Bat from the Legend of the Dark Knight series.
As I stated before, Poison Ivy’s issue is pretty forgettable. She needs more money and pulls off a heist using her charm and looks. We do get some interesting info on her poisons and toxins, but the first half of the issue is a drab dialog and mostly uninteresting. I also didn’t care for the art here. It’s typical 90s comic art, and not the good kind either.
The second story is much more interesting. We get Riddler’s origin story of how he was ignored for not being the genius he is and wanted to be the center of attention. I found the art here much better and the entire comic has an overarching twist at the end that I found really interesting. There’s very little Batman in this issue, but that’s okay as with any origin story we want to know about the character at hand.
The third issue is about Scarecrow’s origin story. Like Riddler, he was bullied and ignored in his teen years, but instead of being a genius he just wanted to be noticed. His origin reference as Ichabod Crane makes a lot of sense and his actual Scarecrow costume is quite funny. The Halloween costume beginnings of Scarecrow are before he had money and could fund better toxins and tech to disperse his gas. We discover how and why he chose fear gas and I really loved this one. It’s probably my favorite of the four. The art style is great and I love Crane’s over-exaggerated height and lankiness.
The last issue is about the origin of Man-Bat. A science experiment went wrong, but there’s quite a bit of detail here. He sacrifices something to do this and in the end, it turns out it wasn’t a good idea. There are some awesome shots of Batman in the shadows and a great full-spread shot of him fighting Man-Bat. The art here is great and much improved over Ivy’s and even Riddler’s issue. This origin story comes to a full circle beginning and conclusion in about 50 pages and I was really entertained. My guess as to why this is recommended to be read so close to Year One is how Batman is still not fully integrated into his role and is still trying to find tech to use to increase his fear among enemies.