Scarecrow’s Fear State has completely taken over Gotham City. If that wasn’t enough for the Batman Family to contend with there is a new Anti-Oracle that has risen up and taken control of all of Barbara Gordon’s systems to pose as Oracle. That is on top of how Simon Saint has maneuver his Magistrate to be part of Gotham City Mayor Nakano’s anti-vigilante crusade. It’s a lot for the Batman Family to go up against as they try to protect Gotham City from becoming even more chaotic, if you can imagine that. Let’s see what happens next in the Fear State event with Batman #113
Writer: James Tynion (Fear State); Brandon Thomas (Clownhunter: High Score back-up story)
Artist: Jorge Jimenez (Fear State); Jason Howard (Clownhunter: High Score back-up story)
Colorist: Tomeu Morey (Fear State)
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: The Anti-Oracle (who continues to pose as Oracle) spreads information to the people of Gotham City about Batman being dead, the Magistrate trying to control Gotham City, and Scarecrow’s fear toxin already spreading across the city.
As that message is heard by everyone Batman is shown swinging across the city, Oracle is trying to figure out how to shut the Anti-Oracle down, the Unsanity Collective plan their next moves, and Harley Quinn and Gardener team-up to search for Poison Ivy.
Over at Gotham City Police Department headquarters after getting an update on everything going on in Gotham City from one of the officers Commissioner Renee Montoya wonders to herself why she took the job. Batman appears out of nowhere and says its because Commissioner Montoya wanted to help people.
Batman then reveals to Commissioner Montoya that the Magistrate were the ones behind the bombing at City Hall and Simon Saint manipulated the situation to place the blame on the Unsanity Collective so he could scare Mayor Nakano into getting fully behind the Magistrate program. Batman goes on to say that Peacekeeper-01 is currently loose after being infected by a heavy dose of Scarecrow’s fear toxin.
Commissioner Montoya says she trusts Batman but needs physical proof to put a stop to Simon Saint and the Magistrate along with their connections to Scarecrow. Batman says he is working on it. As Commissioner Montoya says with Gotham City reaching a breaking point the people need something to believe Batman disappears without her noticing.
Somewhere in Gotham City one of the Magistrate drones spot Batman swinging through the city. The drones start to fire at Batman and corner him so that he can be surrounded by several Peacekeepers. Batman is able to defeat them all while getting a message to Simon Saint that he will make sure everyone in Gotham City knows who is responsible for everything going on, something that Simon is terrified of.
Some time later Batman meets up with Ghost-Maker in his underground Batcave in Fort Graye. Believing he is compromised, Batman asks Ghost-Maker to analyze help his brain to find the fear center where Scarecrow likely planted something when using his new fear toxin on him. Batman hands Ghost-Maker a VR headset called the Mind Connector he created along with Cyborg using Mother Box tech to access this fear center part of his brain.
After putting on the Mind Connector VR headset Batman and Ghost-Maker dive through Bruce Wayne’s mind until they get to the point when Scarecrow captured Batman. They see how Scarecrow was manipulating Batman through his new fear toxin. As Ghost-Maker mentions this being the point that Scarecrow planted something in his mind Batman starts freaking out. Ghost-Maker forces this simulation to end so they can dive deeper into whatever Scarecrow planted in Bruce’s mind.
Ghost-Maker then shows Batman one of his own memories of a the time he met Jonathan Crane at Gotham University not long after first meeting Bruce. During this time Crane spoke to Ghost-Maker about the Fear State Theory he had written at the time that included information about creating fear in stages to create the pure state of what Crane dubbed as “Fear State.”
Coming out of the simulation Batman and Ghost-Maker figure out that Scarecrow has been using Simon Saint and the Magistrate to fully test out his Fear State Theory while Simon Saint is trying to use Scarecrow to fully establish the Magistrate as Gotham City’s highest authority figure.
Elsewhere, Peacekeeper-01 stands over several dead bodies of people he has killed while continuing to suffer from Scarecrow’s fear toxin.
Peacekeper-X suddenly shows up and tells Peacekeeper-01 to surrender so they can focus on bringing down Scarecrow. Peacekeeper-01 continues to rant that he is the hero as Scarecrow watches all this from a nearby rooftop.
Back at the Fort Graye Batcave, Batman tells Ghost-Maker that Scarecrow has turned Peacekeeper-01 into the match that will cause Gotham City to blow everything up. End of main story.
The Good: The Fear State isn’t progressed very far with Batman #113. This issue is more about positioning the various main characters of this event into spots where real impact will be made in this series and all the tie-ins.
Specifically placing a spotlight on how Bruce Wayne as Batman is actually being proactive about figuring out what to do next was very much needed. He has been sidelined up to this point due to being Scarecrow’s prisoner while the final set-up for Fear State was going on. Bruce in a way needed to ground himself after what he went through in order to be his optimal self.
Starting out by meeting with Commissioner Renee Montoya for the first time since she took on the job was a smart move by Batman. James Tynion did a good job in quickly establishing how there is already a built in trust between Batman and Commissioner Montoya based on their past. Tapping into that past through the way they speak to one another made the interaction come across as natural. Especially with how Commissioner Montoya was blunt with Batman that while she trusts what he is saying about the Magistrate and Scarecrow working together that she needed actual proof was important to establish. This helped put an importance on Batman also having to get tangible proof to show the citizens of Gotham City that Mayor Nakano, Simon Saint, the Magistrate, and Scarecrow aren’t working in the city’s best interest.
Which made the follow-up scene of Batman taking on a group of Peacekeepers have even greater intensity. With what Commissioner Montoya told him in mind, Batman was even more focused on bringing down the Magistrate from top to bottom. That is something that you can feel with how he yelled at Simon Saint, knowing that the Magistrate leader was listening in, about taking down the Magistrate. It made the sense of fear that Simon Saint that he is already screwed from the start be even more believable as his Magistrate plans continue to crumble around him.
Going from all of this into Batman having Ghost-Maker help him figure out how compromised he is after Scarecrow used the updated fear gas on him was well done. It once again highlighted how Bruce understands that he can’t just power through to overcome Scarecrow, Magistrate, and everything else going on to save Gotham City. Before he can get to that point he needs to make sure he is mentally right and doesn’t leave himself open to be manipulated by Scarecrow even further.
And it was very cool to see how Tynion taps into the greater DC Universe by having Bruce reveal that he has been working with Cyborg to develop technology based around the Mother Box. This is obviously something Bruce would do given all he has experienced as a member of the Justice League. Specifically creating a Mind Connector VR helmet to scan a person’s mind is all in line with what we’ve seen the character do in recent history with both Grant Morrison and Scott Snyder’s run on the series. Having this sense of continuity makes what Tynion is doing feel even grander in scope than just isolating Batman from the rest of the DCU.
Actually having Ghost-Maker experience what Bruce went through under Scarecrow added a different level of intensity to this. We got to see things a bit more through Ghost-Maker’s eyes as how messed up everything was. This was all a good way of exploring Batman and Ghost-Maker’s unique partnership that is different from what we normally see from a Batman and Robin team.
This dive through the Mind Connector also provided Tynion with the opportunity to dig into more of Ghost-Maker’s own history as we find out that he previously met a college aged Jonathan Crane. This reveal worked in context of the story given how Tynion previously established how world traveled Ghost-Maker is. Of course he would run into potential villains Batman would face in the future. This made the deeper dive into Scarecrow’s Fear State Theory be something you focused on more than if it was Bruce in this scene. It all set up the understanding of what the Fear State Theory that has been mentioned before to make the foundation of this event even stronger.
The ending with Peacekeeper-01 still in the psychotic state Scarecrow put him being confronted by Peacekeeper-X was a strong hook ending for Batman #113. It set the stage for some major progress to made in each following issue. Because as Batman mentions in the final panel, Peacekeeper-01 is already being used as the match for Gotham City to go from just chaos into becoming a living hell in Scarecrow’s Fear State. How everyone involved deals with the ramifications of what Peacekeeper-01 has done on top of everything else will be very interesting to see play out.
With how epic of a story Fear State already is shaping up to be Jorge Jimenez delivers big event level art throughout Batman #113. He does such a great job with making the scale of events feel big with how he implements splash pages and double-page spreads. The journey through Batman and Ghost-Maker’s respective subconscious through the Mind Connector was made greater thanks to Jimenez’s artwork. The fight between Batman and the Peacekeepers also was a good tease for what kind of fights we should expect throughout Fear State.
The Bad: For as much as I enjoyed how Batman #113 sets things up for the future of Fear State the feeling that we have to read other tie-in books to get a full story is very much felt from the beginning. The Anti-Oracle story, while very interesting, does come across as something that isn’t an important story with how Batman never actually address it. It is more of something that is going on behind the scenes that Batman is not worried about. Which is such a shame given how serious of an plot point Anti-Oracle is to Fear State. At least showing Batman being in contact with Barbara Gordon similar to the meeting with Commissioner Montoya would’ve created a greater sense of importance to the Anti-Oracle sub-plot.
The same goes for what Miracle Molly, Harley Quinn, and the Gardner as things unfold in Fear State. These characters are given one panel each of screen time without actual details of what they are doing or where they are going. Having a better balance of all the different sub-plots that were established in both Batman: Fear State Alpha and Batman #112 will only strengthen the overall Fear State story being told in this series.
While I’ve grown to appreciate Clownhunter I am just not into his back-up story for Fear State. He is the character I’m least interested in knowing what is going on with him in this event. Clownhunter just does nothing to help the event move forward. There are so many other characters like Tim Drake and Kate Kane that should get a chance to get a spotlight in Fear State with this back-up story.
Overall: Batman #113 solidifies the foundation for Fear State created by the two issues that proceeded it. Now that all the set-up is out of the way Fear State could quickly match and exceed the scope of a story we saw in Joker War.
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