As “The Cowardly Lot” storyline has progressed in Batman we have seen how the state we saw Gotham City in during Future State may very well be the present for the city. Everything has been pointing to that being the case as the work by Simon Saint to establish the Magistrate as Gotham City’s ultimate policing force with Mayor Nakano has moved quickly. The progression with the Magistrate has placed Batman in a tough spot of being unable to react quickly enough to stop the transformation of Gotham City. Now with the Magistrate’s Peacekeeper-01 targeting Miracle Molly and the Unsanity Collective how with Batman get further involved? Let’s find out with Batman #111.
Writers: James Tynion IV (The Cowardly Lot and Ghost-Maker)
Artists: Jorge Jimenez (The Cowardly Lot); Ricardo Lopez Ortiz (Ghost-Maker)
Colorists: Tomeu Morey (The Cowardly Lot); Romulo Fajardo Jr. (Ghost-Maker)
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: At an unknown point in time, Batman says in a nightmare open field he won’t let Scarecrow win. Scarecrow says that he will teach Batman how to be better just like he is teaching Gotham City to be better.
In the present, the news talks about the Magistrate raiding the Unsanity Collective’s secret base.
Peacekeeper-01 (Sean Mahoney) is then shown holding Miracle Molly and Squeak at gunpoint. Miracle Molly uses her eye to communicate with Squeak to scream on her mark. Peacekeeper-01 fires his gun and Miracle Molly does the splits to dodge the bullet. Miracle Molly then activates a device that covers Squeak’s mouth. Miracle Molly signals Squeak to scream. Squeak screams and lets out a Canary Cry-like attack that knocks all of the Peacekeepers to the ground.
This gives Miracle Molly and Squeak a chance to make a break for it. As they run the Peacekeepers fire at them. Breaker suddenly appears and starts fighting Peacekeeper-01. This allows Miracle Molly, who gets shot on her side, to carry Squeak away.
Miracle Molly makes it to where Wyze is at and asks for Squeak to receive medical attention as she hurt herself from the power she used with her sonic scream.
Batman, Harley Quinn, and Ghost-Maker suddenly appear on the scene to back-up Breaker in taking on Peacekeeper-01 and the Magistrate. As they fight Oracle communicates with Batman to let him know that Gotham City is turning on him and being blamed for the bombing at City Hall.
Batman isn’t given a second to focus on that as Peacekeeper-01 charges at him. Oracle tells Batman that Peacekeeper-01 is dealing with some injuries that can be exploited. Batman takes that into account and uses Peacekeeper-01’s own momentum to toss him across the room.
Breaker tells Batman he can hold off Peacekeeper-01. While Miracle Molly wants Breaker to come with him Batman tells Ghost-Maker to get the Ghost-Stream jet ready to evacuate everyone.
As Breaker gets overwhelmed by Peacekeeper-01 assault Batman, Harley Quinn, and Ghost-Maker are able to get the entire Unsanity Collective in the building evacuated.
Peacekeeper-01 wants to go after Batman but is stopped by Simon Saint, who says they can now move to the grand finale of their plan.
Later that night Mayor Nakano holds a press conference, with Simon Saint watching. He announces that the Magistrate have arrested several members of the Unsanity Collective, who he connects with working with Scarecrow. Mayor Nakano swears to protect Gotham City by announcing that the Magistrate will have the authority to dismantle all costumed crime and vigilantism in the city.
Somewhere above Gotham City, in the Ghost-Stream, Ghost-Maker treats Squeak’s injuries. Miracle Molly is angry about how Simon Saint and the Magistrate the trauma people in Gotham City to be permanent.
Batman tells everyone that he needs to take care of Scarecrow in order to end whatever he has at play. Harley Quinn is surprised that Batman knows where Scarecrow is. Batman reveals that during their fight he slipped a tracking device on Peacekeeper-01 and has noticed he is going to the ruins of Arkham Asylum. Batman goes on to say that if he can stop Scarecrow there is a chance for them to reveal the truth about what Simon Saint and Mayor Nakano are doing with the Magistrate to the public.
Batman then asks Harley Quinn and Ghost-Maker to get the members of the Unsanity Collective somewhere safe so they can testify against the Magistrate when the time comes for that.
After Batman leaves, Harley Quinn tells Ghost-Maker she knows of a place they can take everyone.
Over at the ruins of Arkham Asylum, Scarecrow detects Batman’s arrival from all the security cameras he had set up. Peacekeeper-01 gets Scarecrow in contact with Simon Saint to talk about how they can move into the next phase of their plans. Simon says that he’ll worked things out so Scarecrow can be moved into a consultant role within the Magistrate.
Scarecrow shows no interest in this as he gloats about how he has positioned Gotham City into a state of fear he could only hope of in wartime. Simon orders Peacekeeper-01 to arrest Scarecrow. Scarecrow easily stops Peacekeeper-01 by destroying his helmet and injecting him with the highest amount of Fear Toxin he has ever given to a single person. The Fear Toxin immediately impacts Peacekeeper-01, who runs away scared from seeing a demonic version of Scarecrow.
At the same this happens Simon suddenly starts feeling sick and throws up in the room he is in.
Back at Arkham Asylum, Scarecrow calls out Batman, knowing he is above him, and reveals he has spent the last several months upgrading all his equipment to detect fear around him. Scarecrow uses one of his devices to cause the ground Batman was standing to collapse, causing Batman to fall hard on the ground in the room Scarecrow is in.
With Batman barely conscious from his fall Scarecrow says he is going to make Batman his first student as he is ready to teach all of Gotham City the true meaning of fear. End of main story.
The Good: James Tynion and Jorge Jimenez do everything they can to make sure we are entering the Fear State event with maximum amount of hype. While there are a lot of familiar elements from what we saw in the Future State continuity Batman #111 further hints at an unknown path being taken for the franchise. It is an unknown path that the entire Batman Family have been on since Joker War and that Fear State will be looking to continue setting all our heroes on.
What immediately stands out from reading Batman #111 is how unprepared Bruce Wayne is handling the chaotic state Gotham City is in. Even when Bruce as Batman tries to exude control over things the way he talks and looks give the vibe that he is making things up as he goes. We see that at various points in Batman #111. The biggest point in this issue this is shown is with Oracle revealing Batman is being blamed for the City Hall bombing. We already know that Peacekeeper-01 is responsible for this bombing but Batman was not able to get the time to use this knowledge to turn things around. Everything is moving so quickly that Batman can only act in the now rather than normally trying to be several steps ahead.
The only time he we see classic prepared Batman was when we learn he planted a tracking device on Peacekeeper-01. But even when it looks like Batman is regaining control Scarecrow throws a curveball by showing he is several steps ahead of the Dark Knight. Which all further pushes the narrative of how Bruce has really been stripped of all his normal resources so he is at a major disadvantage against the rising Magistrate under Simon Saint’s control. This does create an air of not really being sure if Batman will be able to handle whatever is to come with Fear State.
Speaking of which, Batman #111 does an excellent job at positioning Scarecrow as an unstoppable villain similar to Joker. It is an upgrade Scarecrow desperately needed. Tynion accomplishes this by going all in on the horror villain vibe that Scarecrow gives off from both his appearance and use of Fear Toxin. The way he mercilessly injects Peacekeeper-01 with Fear Toxin at a level never before seen instantly makes you terrified of Scarecrow. By doing this it made the ending of Batman #111 even more impactful as you are left extremely concern what Scarecrow will do to Batman.
This action by Scarecrow gives us yet another example of how we are diverging from the Future State continuity. Because in that continuity we saw that Jonathan Crane was working for the Magistrate with zero resistance. That is not the case from how Scarecrow turns down Simon Saint’s offer to extend their partnership. This works to set up how Fear State will be continuing to set a future that is unknown for Gotham City and its residents. Which in turn makes for greater excitement going into the latest Batman event because we cannot predict what Tynion’s long-term plans are for the franchise.
While Scarecrow does turn on him, Simon Saint is set-up well to have a long-term future in the Batman franchise. That is if he survives whatever sickness he had at the end of Batman #11. Believing he will survive we did see Simon firmly plant himself as being Mayor Nakano’s partner in the anti-vigilante crusade that Nakano’s entire administration is based around. This status quo makes the Magistrate into something that can been seen making an impact in all of the Batman Family titles moving forward.
Sean Mahoney’s arc as Peacekeeper-01 also took an interesting turn in Batman #111. As mentioned earlier, we saw that Scarecrow injected Peacekeeper-01 with a large amount of Fear Toxin. While Sean ended up running scared from this we don’t know how this will impact him in the long-term. He is after all been crafted into a Super Soldier by Simon Saint. How the Fear Toxin will possibly make Sean as Peacekeeper-01 even more dangerous than before will be interesting to see play out during Fear State.
The big wild card in all of this is Miracle Molly and the Unsanity Collective. Tynion has done a good job building the Unsanity Collective to be more than just another group of antagonist for Batman to face. They represent something to Gotham City through the people that are part of the group. With Batman looking to use the Unsanity Collective as witnesses against Mayor Nakano and Simon Saint it does make you wonder if that will work. Because we see how this experience with being raided has made Miracle Molly impatient for results. How Fear State impacts the direction of the Unsanity Collective is something to keep watch on.
Though they don’t play a large role outside of being Batman’s back-up it is good to see Ghost-Maker and Harley Quinn further established into the Batman Family. Simply having them working with Batman integrates both characters into the Batman Family in a way that is natural. You aren’t left thinking why they are there with Batman. The more we see them the more used to them being with one of the Batman Family members will be normalized position for both Ghost-Maker and Harley Quinn to be in.
This also works because we do get the back-up story where we get some actual character work for Ghost-Maker. The story in the back-up for this series is growing on me. Tynion is doing a good job with expanding on Ghost-Maker’s personality through the threats he is taking on in his solo story. The artwork by Ricardo Lopez Ortiz adds to the story as we are dealing with some supernatural elements in Ghost-Maker’s story.
Jorge Jimenez continues to deliver big event level artwork with his work on Batman #111. All of Jimenez artwork compliments the story that Tynion is telling so well that the story is elevated because of all art. You understand how chaotic things are in Gotham City through all of the action. Which added greater drama around Mayor Nakano’s Magistrate announcement. Jimenez also make Scarecrow appear in his most terrifying form that is made event scarier with how the injection of Fear Toxin to Peacekeeper-01 is drawn.
The Bad: With how things went for the majority of Batman #111 it made all of the flashforward scenes we have gotten throughout “The Cowardly Lot” come across as unnecessary. What we got from Batman being tortured by Scarecrow in all of the flashforward scenes through this story arc was something that the last few pages Batman #111 accomplished. The pages that were used for all the flashforwards would’ve been better used on giving more character development for Ghost-Maker and Harley Quinn or bring in another Batman Family member to help out.
Overall: Batman #111 sets everything into place for the upcoming Fear State story be an event I am entering at the maximum hype level. James Tynion and Jorge Jimenez do an excellent job making the unknown something to be excited about. In the process they turn Scarecrow into a top-tier villain with how terrifying he comes across. Everything else that goes down in Batman #111 creates a lot of questions for how the Batman Family will deal with the rise of Scarecrow and the Magistrate.
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