The Fear State event nears its conclusion as Batman is now teaming up with Miracle Molly to take on Scarecrow. While a focus has been placed on Scarecrow as he is the one who caused Fear State there are many other problems in Gotham City going on at the same time. There’s Simon Saint going overboard with controlling Gotham City with the Magistrate, the Anti-Oracle taking over the Batman Family network, GCPD lost of control, and Queen Poison Ivy’s Eden getting attack. And that is just to name the major things going on with Fear State. How will things go for Gotham City as we approach the end of Fear State? Let’s find out with Batman #116.
Writers: James Tynion IV (Batman: Fear State); Becky Cloonan and Michael W Conrad (Batgirls: Set It Off)
Artists: Jorge Jimenez (Batman: Fear State); Jorge Corona (Batgirls: Set It Off)
Colorists: Tomeu Morey (Batman: Fear State); Sara Stern (Batgirls: Set It Off)
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Following Simon Saint’s orders the Peacekeeper soldiers and robots invade Eden. Ghost-Maker appears and immediately chops the Peacekeeper robots to pieces.
Nearby Queen Ivy is pissed off that the Magistrate invaded Eden and uses her full power to destroy Gotham City in order for her paradise to survive.
Elsewhere, in the sewers, Batman and Miracle Molly rush to where Scarecrow is hiding out. They suddenly feel the ground shaking and are contacted by Ghost-Maker to let them know that it is Queen Ivy’s doing.
Scarecrow appears out of nowhere and reveals he knows about the technology the Unsanity Collective were using which makes them easy prey for his programming. Scarecrow shows this to be the reality as he causes Miracle Molly immense mental pain by activating his Fear State device. Knowing Batman wants to save Miracle Molly, Scarecrow tells the Dark Knight to follow him to bare witness to the final stage of Fear State he has prepared.
In his secret room Scarecrow shows Batman the procedure he is currently conducting on Peacekeeper-01 (Sean Mahoney) that is causing him to experience all his past trauma in order to rewrite Sean’s mind to process all the fear and horror into an evolved state.
Hearing enough, Batman tries to destroy the controller Scarecrow is using for his Fear State device but fails. Scarecrow mocks Batman that Miracle Molly and others need to learn that fear is stronger than anything else.
Just as he says this Scarecrow is shot from behind by Peacekeeper-1. Batman quickly gets Scarecrow’s controller to stop the pain the Fear State device was causing Miracle Molly.
Peacekeeper-01 starts talking about how Simon Saint thought that the Magistrate could be a force for good by creating order. Peacekeeper-01 says that order is not about being good or bad but about power so he will become the hero that Gotham City needs while he keeps Scarecrow on as a retainer and thinks of killing Simon Saint.
Batman tells Miracle Molly to go disarm Scarecrow’s Fear Bomb while he deals with Peacekeeper-01.
Batman and Peacekeeper-01 start fighting with Peacekeeper-01 getting the early advantage due to his power advantage.
Seeing how the Fear Bomb was built Miracle Molly asks Scarecrow to help her disarm it. Scarecrow says everything is going according to his Fear State plan and that it is Miracle Molly’s choice what to do next.
Back in Eden while Ghost-Maker took out the invading Peacekeepers he tells the others there that the Magistrate are getting ready to send another wave of Peacekeepers to Eden.
Master Wyze tries to get Queen Ivy to stop destroying Gotham City but Queen Ivy does not want to hear it and ties him up in some vines.
Harley Quinn suddenly appears and says that maybe Queen Ivy can listen to herself. Harley Quinn then brings in Poison Ivy (who has the other half of Queen Ivy that has been staying with Catwoman in the Alleytown district of Gotham City since the start of Infinite Frontier). End of issue.
The Good: Batman #116 does a lot of work to improve the pacing of the plotlines this series is dealing with in Fear State. At this point while the Fear State event is one that spans all of Gotham City that is not always coming across in the main Batman series. That both leads to a more focused story on just Batman but makes the events here not feel as big as they are in other Fear State tie-ins.
Where Batman #116 improves on previous Fear State issues in this series is a better sense of moving the story forward at a pace you get the urgency of what is going on. The opening with Queen Ivy in particular added to the sense of urgency because you saw how powerful she was. Jorge Jimenez did a very good job in making her come across as the most powerful character in Gotham City.
This made the rash decision Simon Saint did with his gamble to take in Queen Ivy to save face even more intriguing. Because right now Simon Saint is in a bad spot. Everything in Fear State has shown that his Magistrate are not the answer to all the problems Gotham City has. Which creates even more concern for what will happen to Gotham City after it survives the events of Fear State.
Which made the ending with Harley Quinn showing up with the more human half of Poison Ivy even more intriguing. The entire presentation from Queen Ivy’s speech to how Harley Quinn, along with Gardner, presented Poison Ivy made it feel like a true wild card entered the events of Fear State. That is credit to Tynion and Jimenez as a creative team that they got this vibe across through both the dialogue and artwork at the same time.
The Batman side of the story was also better done as he actually went to go deal with the direct problem being Scarecrow orchestrating everything. Adding in Miracle Molly to the situation made things a bit more dangerous for Batman as he ended up walking into another trap by Scarecrow. So even when Miracle Molly was the ally he needed to stop Scarecrow the villain of the story showed that he was prepared for such a situation to happen. The explanation of how Scarecrow was going about creating his Fear State took what we learned when we entered Ghost-Maker’s memories to be a bigger threat to Gotham City. Which continued to elevate Scarecrow to be more than he was before this story arc.
The focus on Scarecrow allowed the big surprise of Sean Mahoney’s Peacekeeper-01 getting an unexpected power upgrade even more intriguing. The Peacekeeper-01 that we see appear here has a lot of elements to the version we saw appear in Future State. Even the talk about Future State and how Peacekeeper now plans to keep Scarecrow on as a retainer brought flashes to the Future State version of Gotham City. That visual made the fight between Batman and Peacekeeper-01 to have even greater stakes as we know what it would mean for Gotham City if Sean Mahoney’s Magistrate takes over.
The Batgirls back-up by Becky Cloonan, Michael W Conrad, Jorge Corona, and Sarah Stern elevated what was going on in the main story for Batman #116. It did this by doing something that Tynion was doing earlier in this story by having the Gotham City media cover the events of Gotham City. This choice made the events of Fear State be even bigger as we were given a look into how the narrative of this event is being crafted by the Magistrate and Gotham City government through the media. It made what the entire Batman Family are dealing with across all the different comics even more important as they have to figure out how to turn things around against the Magistrate on another level.
The back-up story also did a good job in further showcasing the chemistry between Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain as Batgirls together. Picking up on the events from the end of Nightwing #85 where we saw Oracle’s Clocktower blown up was a way to separate Stephanie and Cassandra from the rest of the Batman Family that made sense. With all communication cut off between everyone Stephanie and Cassandra are on there own right now. Seeing them deal with the direct fallout of hearing how the media is making the entire Batman Family look bad creates greater interest in how they will deal with their part in Fear State together.
The Bad: The one thing that the main story in Batman #116 still is not nailing is the scale of Fear State. There was an opening created to show this when Queen Ivy started her mission to destroy Gotham City so she can create her Eden. Unfortunately the opportunity was missed to show the reaction of the people in Gotham City to their city nearing destruction. Showing how people are reacting to the earthquakes that Queen Ivy created would’ve added to the severity of the situation.
Also it is odd that we aren’t seeing Mayor Nakano show up to deal with what Simon Saint is doing with the Magistrate. Mayor Nakano has been such a major player with getting the Magistrate over that we should be seeing him have some involvement in the main story of Fear State. Having him basically be a non-factor was another missed opportunity to get over the scale of Fear State.
Overall: Batman #116 elevated the sense of urgency to Fear State with the multiple plains of action that is featured in this comic book. James Tynion and Jorge Jimenez made the final battles that Batman, Peacekeeper-01, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, and others are involved in as we near the conclusion of Fear State. The Batgirls back up story by Becky Cloonan, Michael W Conrad, Jorge Corona, and Sarah Stern elevated the stakes as we get a better idea of how Gotham City is dealing with the events of Fear State through the eyes and ears of Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain.
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