Reviews for Modes of Distress
Guest chapter 1 . 7/1
This has become my favourite Scarecrow fanfiction. Good job.
Lady Eleanor Boleyn chapter 1 . 1/7
Carrying on with your Crane backstories because I can sort of pick something up here, which is always useful, as I am completely fandom-blind, never mind canon...

I like the opening of this ‘If Mary Keeny cared about one thing, it was her family name’. It’s such a brief sentence, but such a powerful one, one that gives us such a picture of the woman. It makes it so clear what her principles are and what motives will be behind whatever actions she takes as the story progresses. A true old-fashioned society matriarch – a portrayal that only strengthens as we see what she thinks of her own daughter and grand-daughter; how she sees them as weak and self-indulgent. She reminds me a little of the grandmother in the Flowers in the Attic series, if that means anything to you.

I have to admit though, I admire her view of Gerald Crane, and by extension, the rest of the Cranes. He is ‘a stinking coward’, she’s got that right – any man who knocks a girl up and then runs away, refusing to face the consequences, is one, and the dry comment about how the Cranes had tried to fix him made me smirk... she has quite the turn of phrase sometimes, doesn’t she?

Marion... I don’t approve of her selfish, flyaway, socialite persona and her likening the baby to ‘ spare puppies we couldn’t afford to keep’ was spine-chilling, yet, I suppose, maybe I should sympathise with her a little bit here – growing up with Mary as a mother cannot have been easy...she doesn’t exactly seem the maternal type, as shown when she’s talking so coolly about her son who died of measles as a newborn and when she holds baby Jonathon and feels some ‘sense of control over the brat’...

So no, I don’t like your characters, although I sympathise with Karen, who seems to be a naive good-time sort of girl who’s got herself into a bit more trouble than she bargained for, and love the way you’ve drawn the others. Nonetheless, you’ve intrigued me with this and I can’t wait to read more )
DjinniFires chapter 1 . 12/12/2014
Like just about everybody, I'm well-acquainted with the Batman universe from canon. I only know Jonathan Crane from fan fiction, but I can see he's an inspiring character for an origins story.

This pre-birth chapter is an anti-fortuitous start to Jonathan Crane's life. You imagined possible precursors to his cold, calculating methods for exploiting others' fears. Wow, what a great-grandmother: [Mary leaned into the frightened girl's face. She did well to be scared, and Mary had it in mind to terrify her. Fear was the best way to make sure that mistakes weren't made twice.] And what a grandmother: ["When I was a girl," she told Karen while looking on with disgust, "we had a dog. Whenever we found it with a litter of spare puppies that we couldn't afford to keep, fathered by some filthy mutt off the street, we simply put them in a sack, took them to the riverside, and threw them in." Her voice was hard and cold, and her hands twisted together, as if she wished she had the infant's neck in her grip.] I'm already anticipating his involvement in his great-grandmother's and possibly grandmother's death in some future chapter. His mother clearly retains some humanity but isn't forceful enough to stand up for him; that's good motivation for his lack of sympathy for the weak.

The fact that the grandmother and great-grandmother already wish the child dead is tragic: [Her religion made her refuse abortion as a possibility outright and reluctant to have the baby killed once born, but nature's hand would do the ugly work just as well, and no one could blame them if it happened. Mumps, measles, diphtheria - she knew that there were many ways a baby could die before the end of its first year. "God willing. Given our fortunes as of late, however, it will live."] [The Keeny name had too much honor behind it to be wasted on something that would most likely be buried in the family plot given a month's time.]

These hints of a horrible childhood to come are chilling: [The cane was a start.] [Despite her lack of maternal feelings toward him, Mary felt a sense of control over the brat. Oh, she would take care of him. She would see to it that, unlike Karen and Marion, Jonathan Crane would grow up with the fear of God.]

The backstory of the backstory makes sense: the once proud Southern family that's slowly but inexorably been losing wealth, influence and social standing. Nicely written from [She walked away with a measured gait, still carrying the Bible under one arm while Marion followed her into the family living room. It was vast, but empty, a sign of the Keenys' lost wealth] right through to [The house was alive yet, but in the way a dying animal is alive, waiting for the birds of the air to come and pick the bones white.]

Some small things raise questions for me:
Scene 1, paragraph 1: Do 63-year-olds typically need walking sticks (nowadays gyms are filled with 60ish people working out)? My grandmother didn't until her very late 80's.
Paragraph 2: Mary thinks about her daughter Marion: [But she kept to the faith and endured, bringing her own daughter Karen up to follow in her footsteps.] And yet, quite soon (the next paragraph in fact) and throughout the rest of the chapter, Mary is thinking of Marion as not as good as her upbringing should have made her: [Somewhere along the way she had acquired silly dreams of leaving Arlen, shedding the shadow of her mother, and becoming a society lady, preening in front of the bathroom mirror and eyeing pretty things in department stores] Perhaps read through for consistency in portraying Marion as not quite living up to her mother's Keeny standards and, in turn, allowing her daughter Karen to stray even further so no telling how far Karen's child would stray if Mary doesn't step in.
Paragraph 5: [She (Marion) took Karen's pregnancy even more harshly than Mary did.] This statement made me think Mary has some measure of mercy, which I don't think serves your purpose or is borne out in the rest of the chapter. Isn't Marion just more miffed, worried about how she'll look to her social circle while Mary is concerned about deeper things, the blot on the venerable family name?
Paragraph 9: the reaction is really great. Could you place it before Karen confesses the father is Gerald crane? When it comes between the confession and Mary's reaction to confession, it makes it seem like Mary doesn't at first realize who Crane is and is doing a double take. Throughout, the level of knowledge Mary has of the Cranes (and, in fact, where exactly they live) doesn't seem consistent.
As far as Mary's thoughts on infanticide, I'd think a woman this rigid would either have one consistent view throughout, yet in paragraph 23 she's thinking about discussing murder later with her daughter. What seems most logical is her being against abortion, against direct infanticide but dearly hoping God will send a sickness to take the shame away. If she'd even entertain the thought of murder, a reason it's different from abortion for her should be noted, i.e., the baby will be baptized, etc.
Paragraph 32: should be [Mary, who was old enough to {{have seen}} the good times...]
Paragraph 36: [She hated the manor as much as Karen did. If she wasn't afraid of Mary's displeasure, not only would the baby be dead but Marion would abandon her worthless daughter and witch of a mother and leave Arlen for good.] Pretty much we've been in Mary's POV. This seems like an author's note from Marion's POV.
Scene 2, paragraph 3: a stray period between "with Karen" and "four months after."
Paragraph 8: [...Karen gritted her teeth and fought to stay awake.] Actually, in the middle of labor with no epidural she'd have no problem staying awake at all. ;D
Wonderlander chapter 13 . 9/20/2014
Wonderful, absolutely delightful. It's hard to find good stories about Scarecrow, much less his past and his upbringing. Great writing and I can't wait for the next update
Son of Whitebeard chapter 13 . 9/13/2014
Crane certainly had a dark childhood
Tina chapter 13 . 9/13/2014
Yay! A new chapter :D
This is interesting to seeing everyone's reaction to Sherry's death.
I am very curious to see what happens next :)
I wonder what will happen?
G THE NEPHILIM chapter 12 . 6/9/2014
Holy crap that was awesome I actually felt a shiver go up my spine this was absolute perfection bravo dude just bravo G THE NEPHILIM.
Jael.Rice.1 chapter 5 . 6/10/2014
Although I started reviewing for the 'Review Lounge Tag Game', I really wanted to finish reading this story and reviewing without having to wait for the chance to.

With each chapter, Sherry becomes more and more unlikable. Even though this is more on the line of “guilt by association”, the line “there must have been a degree of real affection in their relationship” really sets in stone the fact that Sherry is staunchly on Team Bo. It feels like they are similar to each other, turning Sherry into a bit of a female Bo. It wouldn't surprise me if Jonathan grows to hate Sherry and plan his revenge against her alongside the Chickenhawks team.

Sadly, Jonathan's lie about where the burns came from is a sad fact that echoes in real life. There are schools that treat sports teams like royalty, while shushing the voices of those the elite abuses.

Charlene and Brad's relationship reads like an abusive one to me. I'm sorry if I am acting overzealous,
The part where Jonathan is reading Lord of the Flies makes me think he isn't as literary minded as he lets on. When he says that “children did not need to be stranded on a deserted island”, it sounds like those kids were dumped on the island on purpose. In actuality, it was not supposed to happen. They're on the island because of a plane crash. The ensuing chaos is a commentary on how kids will go wild when they don't have to abide by any rules or authority figures.

Jonathan's comments about how Mary will never let him do anything after the Ulysses incident feels repetitive by the end of the first section because we already know she is a battleax who is determined to control every aspect of his life and make him utterly miserable. You've already hammered that point in. Now let's see Jonathan rebel.

I was about to point out that Mary Keeny was acting out of character when she gives Jonathan the costume, but I love how you subvert her actions. It's like you have Jonathan a chance to be happy, and then jerked it out from under him. I love how you have her do this one act of charity, but it's on the condition that she does it to humiliate him. The idea that she knows about the bullying really amplifies how cruel she is. It entails that she doesn't want Jonathan to ever ask to go out on Halloween, and is determined to ruin his self-esteem to achieve her ends. It reminds me of Claude Frollo in the Disney version of Hunchback of Notre-Dame. He doesn't want Quasimodo to go to the Feast of Fools, but when Quasimodo disobeys him, he just lets the city throw tomatoes and bully him back to the cathedral where he “belongs”.

The payoff at the end of the chapter feels totally worth it. After years of abuse, we finally see Jonathan defying Mary without any real fear of punishment. The part where he says “she didn't deserve a single piece. It was mine. All mine” is the most emotionally satisfying line in the story so far. Although he is turning into a psychopath with a love of manipulation, it's so good to see him finally have a happy moment after all that has happened to him. It's a small act of rebellion that I hope grows into something bigger and will make him stand up to that nasty old hag.

Overall, this has been my favorite chapter so far. After sowing the seeds of his rebellion for the last few chapters, we finally get to see them sprout. It's emotionally satisfying as a reader to finally see the pace pick up and having Jonathan grow into himself as a character while standing up to the people who have abused him.
Theodore Hawkwood chapter 1 . 5/21/2014
First off this was a great start for a well written tale, one that in future installations can certainly be grounds taking a stance in the ages old debate of nature versus nurture arguments of villains.

Mary, honestly is nothing of a sympathetic character in my eyes at least what I can see in this story. What I found especially disturbing was that last line of having 'some measure of control over the brat'. I just hope, as completely messed up as it sounds, that she is Jonathan's first victim because of how horrible she is. She most certainly would deserve it for having made a monster.

The Mary/Marion conflict is equally compelling as the Mary/Jonathan dynamic promises to be. The juxtaposition between religious and society/materialistic type is well written in this particular case.

The Keeny family home's air, the lost possessions and the likening to a dying animal were very potent images and thoughts of a family in more than a state of turmoil and conflict and just overall decay. Quite macabre in some sense.

Good job with this writing and I have added this to my list of favorites to read on further.
Jael.Rice.1 chapter 4 . 5/19/2014
Let me just say that I finished reading Scarecrow: Year One, and I am really looking forward to the part where Jonathan finally gets his revenge. Mary is long overdue for some payback. She is downright despicable in this chapter.

Oh, Jonathan. What were you thinking, asking your Halloween-hating grandmother to go out on that night? If this is a case of his mind being affected by the dehydration, overwork, and the heat, then this is a great example of showing, not telling, that he wasn't thinking straight. I realize that maybe this wasn't what you were going for, but the implication that the heat was affecting his cognitive abilities is a believable one.

Aww, he even offered to share some of his candy. I really like this show of his naivety here. He probably knows that she won't let him out, but the fact that he thinks that he might have a chance to go is both adorable and sad at the same time.

Bo and his gang grow more and more despicable with each chapter. The way they exploit school pride in the name of beating up other kids who might now show it demonstrates their entitlement. It feels believable since I knew of cheerleaders at the high school I attended who were so gun-ho about representing their school, they literally made you feel bad if you didn't want to go to any of the school events. This chapter feels like the start of the moral event horizon. Not only do they try to burn a book, they end up burning Jonathan, which reveals a darker side to their character. If they don't have any problems with burning him, who knows what other sadistic tortures they wouldn't mind doling out on their human punching bag.

The way you describe the aviary is just astounding. I love how you personify it as “dying”. It feels like it has another dimension to its character. I also like how you go on to describe how it looks now that its past its prime. I can definitely picture the ivy and the broken, stained glass windows. Mary's hatred for her dad's preference for his bird definitely shows through the lack of upkeep. It really shows the extent of her anger at her family members. To her, it's a symbol of the weaknesses of her family; her dad's obsession, her mother's inability to move on after he died, and now a place to punish Jonathan.

Really good use of dialogue when Jonathan is trying to postpone his punishment. The short sentences punctuated with the exclamation points really convey the desperation in his voice as she takes him to the aviary.

The part where he is attacked by the crows reminds me of the scene in Batman Begins where Bruce Wayne ends up in the cavern below Wayne Manor for the first time. Him being freaked out by all the bats sort of served as his baptism into becoming the Batman. I was wondering if you were going for the same thing with Jonathan's attack by crows. This chapter feels like the turning point in Jonathan Crane's life. With the amplification of his abuse in this chapter, it's only a matter of time before he snaps.
Edhla chapter 8 . 5/19/2014
An interesting POV change, since for the most part we've been in Jonathan's head, but now it's necessary to be in Sherry's.

I like that you've characterised Sherry as a pretty awful person... actually, you know what, every single person in this fic is a pretty awful person :p But the "angelic girl dating complete jerk for some reason" trope was well averted here. A particularly nice touch is her correcting "Ichabod" to "Scarecrow."

Aside: Ichabod may be more appropriate anyway, since it means "no glory."

How awfully appropriate that Jackie is now the bitter outcast - or that he and Jonathan are bitter outcasts together.

A complex scene where Sherry asks Jonathan out, where he does drive the reader to remember that he's a sociopath because of his evil great-grandmother... but we're still watching one character dupe another when both of them are horrible.

I think I mentioned this in an earlier chapter, but Jonathan launching into a speech about how he's hungry all the time seemed a little heavy-handed; I can't see it as the sort of thing he'd say in front of a girl he was trying to impress, since I doubt he'd want her to pity him. If it were mine, I'd concentrate perhaps on his being confused at the idea that people eat things they like for pleasure, and not sure how to respond.

True fact: I very briefly dated a man who ate like Jonathan, with all his disgusting gulps, etc. It's mainly why I didn't date him for very long. It was nauseating to be at the same table as him. As such, that part came across really vividly and I could sense and understand Sherry's disgust.

Clever that you follow up "she didn't care about him" with "she couldn't afford to", which puts the lie to it.

Ominous last line there - looking forward to reading more. x
Erarey13 chapter 1 . 5/18/2014
Alright then. Let's get this started?

Let's start off with tone. I want to touch on this as much as possible. Holy crap. Dark, drab, depressing, inescapably so. Every word just reinforces the overall atmosphere of hellish decay and seclusion, the entire world existing as some other realm while this familial horror show goes on. The references to the child, the continued dwelling on archaic and brutally stringent religious dogma and 'behavior', everything was written as though you were watching from a corner, gritting your teeth, ashamed to be a part of it all. Poetic to a point but still detached, every sentence some kind of highly proper spiel that just feels numb and cold.

I understand that this is the intent, that the characters should exude this vibe not only within their hermetic little world but also in the mind of the reader. They're horrible. That's about as well as I can put it. I was an interesting effect that the young daughter had very few lines, and they were all prompted more in excuse or in duress rather than any kind of natural, equal speak. It really reinforced the dynamic of the characters introduced so far.

Language. You keep it very... proper. Very, very proper. The narrator is in on it as far as I can tell by reading. Every phrasing every sentence all helped to build this stiff yet rolling story that unfolded well but played around enough with language that it actually helped the visualization and concept of the scene.

It was depressing. Like holy shit. Just keeping it informal at this point. I read it and the entire time I was just shaking my head, making faces. It was like watching a movie with awkwardly harsh scenes and you can't look away because of contractual obligation. Depressing depressing depressing. Blah blah blah. Alright back to the formal speak.

This Georgian setting is interesting, giving more of an insight into the character and what helped to form him. I just wonder exactly how much actual BM lore you'll be using in your interpretation. Overall, interesting, and I hope to see this continue on with this same effective and developed effort.
Edhla chapter 7 . 5/18/2014
That's one hell of an ominous chapter title.

I like that this starts off in such a matter-of-fact and action-based way, without unnecessary exposition. While "smug and pleased with himself" is essentially saying the same thing twice, either on its own doesn't... sound right, if you know what I mean?

I'm fascinated with the idea that neither of them seem to have any problem with advanced chemistry, despite their educational limitations (I imagine Gran was not educated at a university, due to her narrow-minded outlook, her gender, and the time period this took place in.) They're both clever in a natural and probably genetic way, but Advanced Chemistry is impressive.

I find it really interesting that phobias of birds are very common, even for people who haven't had Jonathan's horrible upbringing... something about things flapping close to a person's face, I think, or the whole pecking business.

You describe the slow and careful process of getting the formula together with a sort of leisure that I really like... you take your time and bring those details out nicely.

Well, as for "nicely", I about hurled about the dead rat, but I'm pretty sure I was supposed to (reminder to self: do not eat while reading this fic...)

The horribly awesome thing about his revenge on Jackie is exactly as Charlene pointed out - nobody would ever believe that birds would do something like that, let alone that a person could get them to behave that way as revenge. There's nothing linking the crime with Jonathan at all. I thought it was an interesting thing too that Jonathan was attacked by horrible big crows, and Jackie's punishment was relatively light, being attacked by "cute" little brown finches. It looks like he probably won't be playing ever again, though - with one eye, he'd have no depth perception.

Ah. While Jackie is right, I'm really surprised he somehow knew there was a connection between his stealing Jonathan's money and that he had somehow done this to him on purpose. I like that even his own friends think that's a step too far to blame Jonathan for.

Great chapter x
Jael.Rice.1 chapter 3 . 5/14/2014
The fact that Mary lets Jonathan out of the house strikes me as being a little odd. It's established that she doesn't like teenagers, yet her great-grandson is a teenager. The moment he turned thirteen, wouldn't she have started treating him worse out of some sub-consious hatred? But maybe that's just a testament to her will... she's scared Jonathan so badly, he can't help but obey her or else it will be another night with the crows.

I like how we're finally starting on Jonathan's road to villainy. The fact that he is always at the library is something that I appreciate and can see since (based on what I read reading the wikia and playing Arkham Asylum), considering his future career as a psychologist. His motivation for courting Sherry feels like that of a criminal... less for love and more for a need for money, power, and revenge, so it's cool to see him start to develop that mindset from an early age instead of just suddenly snapping like in some horror movies I've seen.

At first, I kind of groaned at the connections between Jonathan and Ichabod Crane because I've seen it done so many times in other stories that sucked. It always felt a little contrived, but I like how you subvert the connection by lampshading the uncanny connection between the two characters and their lives. I also like how you have Jonathan learning from Ichabod's mistakes by being more careful. It will be cool to see how Jonathan will try to remain one step ahead of Bo, and this entices the reader to want to continue to read and see how this plays out.

Something I noticed:
-”Since her family was rich”- you had a 'j' there.
Edhla chapter 6 . 5/13/2014
I liked the thunderstorm described as a "straggler from summer" (quite a straggler, in November!) The annoyance of a single dripping tap was really well described. I'm one of those people who can't sleep when one is going, no matter what.

The description of the photograph made me wonder when, exactly, this is taking place, and when the photograph itself would have been taken... but then I'm thinking as a photographer. Just a small note: you reference the "colour" of the pale dress, but the photograph is black and white.

I get a great sense of that wonder we have as children when we try to think of our parents/grandparents/great-grandparents as young, of being different than they are today, as if they always existed exactly as they are now.

The dead-rat sequence was absolutely compelling - I really like how you drew out what she was doing and why, but not so long that it became tedious. Great note too that he was almost as astonished by her being unafraid of the storm as he was with the rat business. I assume it's canon, but it also helps with another query I had from the earlier crow incident, which was: crows aren't the friendliest of birds, but why would they attack a person like that? It isn't what crows do. Not when they're normal, anyway - this was a good explanation.

And it's awesome that this is what empowers Jonathan, though it's no doubt empowering him to be a psychopath... oh, yep. See, it at first didn't even occur to me that Jonathan would pass that kind of suffering on to the people who were bullying him... maybe because I'm not a psychopath. It's a very disturbing thought process, well portrayed without unnecessary melodrama. Well done x
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