The Batman Family not only survived the events of Fear State but they were able to put an end to the Magistrate in the process. That is a major deal as now we enter a future for Gotham City that is completely unknown because with putting an end to the Magistrate they stopped Future State from happening. At least stopped the events that created Future State for the Batman Family and Gotham City. But while there is a lot to celebrate the hard work for the Batman Family is not nearly over. Fear State further highlighted all the problems within Gotham City and how weak the entire structure of the city is from the government down. How will the direct aftermath of Fear State be dealt with? Let’s find out with Batman: Fear State Omega #1.
Writer: James Tynion
Artists: Riccardo Federici, Christian Duce, Ryan Benjamin, Guillem March, and Trevor Hairsine
Colorist: Christ Sotomayor
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Outside City Hall Commissioner Renee Montoya and Mayor Nakano oversee the transport of Scarecrow to prison.
As the convoy is driving all the cops are hit with a dose of fear gas by Scarecrow causing them all to see demons. Knowing this would happen Batman appears and decides to personally transport Scarecrow to his prison.
During the drive Batman reveals to Scarecrow that the court has sent Miracle Molly to prison. Batman says this will likely lead to Miracle Molly being able to recruit more people to the Unsanity Collective, who have gone underground to rebuild.
It is then shown that Lucius Fox is having Fox-Tech lead the recovery efforts of the Magistrate Skybase that crashed into Gotham River. As this goes on Batman (Jace Fox) watches from the shadows.
As that is going on Simon Saint has already been sent to prison with all the Magistrate resources being auctioned off by the government under Amanda Waller’s watch. It is said that Saint Industries is trying to convince the government to let Simon out and be placed under house arrest so he can work for the United State military.
Scarecrow wonders if that makes Batman mad but Batman states it just means more work is to be done.
Scarecrow then brings up Sean Mahoney and how he made him into an out of control person.
It is shown that as doctors tend to Sean Mahoney’s wounds he wakes up and kills all of the doctors. Then he puts on his Peacekeeper-01 gear and tears his way through the government facility. He then goes into hiding underground.
Scarecrow pushes how the city that once believed in Batman no longer does. Scarecrow goes on to say peoples lives in Gotham City will just continue to get worse. Batman does not believe this to be true.
Over in Eden Catwoman finds Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn quietly together. Gardner shows up and says that after all she has been through Poison Ivy deserves some peace. Catwoman asks Gardner to let Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn to pay her a visit in Alleytown whenever they want.
After Catwoman leaves Poison Ivy appears behind Gardner, having overheard everything Catwoman said. Poison Ivy reveals she knows Gardner took a part of her mind from her. Gardner tries to say she was only trying to help. Poison Ivy doesn’t care as she plans to use her power to save the world without Gardner.
Back in the Batmobile, Scarecrow brings up how the Batman Family likely fears how Batman has decided to surround himself with questionable people lately. Batman says that even if the heroes rising up aren’t how he would like them to look that people can change for the better no matter where their hero journey begins.
Flashing back to sometime in the past Clownhunter is shown running off some followers of the Joker. When Batman shows up Clownhunter unleashes all his thoughts on how Batman has failed Gotham City. Ghost-Maker appears and Batman offers Clownhunter the chance to become Ghost-Maker’s protégé. After hearing Ghost-Maker’s rules Clownhunter agrees to the offer.
Back in the present, Batman says even if he doesn’t know how tomorrow will turn out he will not fear the future of Gotham City. Batman then calls out the fact that no matter how big and intricate Scarecrow makes his plans he is still the same Jonathan Crane who has never shown the ability to change or evolve.
Batman then admits that Gotham City doesn’t need him to evolve and it makes him excited for the future.
Batman then drops off Scarecrow to Dr. Chase Meridian at her new facility. Dr. Meridian tells Batman that while this all started with Arkham Asylum’s destruction the birth of its replacement shows Gotham City will never change.
Thinking of what Dr. Meridian says Batman some things should change as Arkham Tower is shown to be completed. End of issue.
The Good: Batman: Fear State Omega is such an odd way to end James Tynion’s run on Batman. More than anything this comic book serves as a clean up to put as much back to the status quo before Tynion’s run began than anything else. There are certainly things left that future Batman writers can explore in the immediate future. But for the large part Batman: Fear State Omega feels like a “putting the genie back in the bottle” moment.
Where Batman: Fear State Omega works best is in showing how there is unknown future for Gotham City. Tynion does such a good job along with all the artist to create an air of mystery of what will happen next. Which is what you want to see happen after an event like Fear State that completely challenged the status quo for the last few years. It does truly feel like everyone in the Batman Family and other related characters can go in any direction. Which is to the credit of Tynion’s writing that he is leaving the other current and future Batman Family writers with a strong starting point for many, different storylines.
That is where the conversation between Batman and Scarecrow is at its best. You see the two sides of the argument of what Gotham City has been and what it can be. Both these characters represent the past and present of Gotham City. But for Gotham City to move forward it needs people who can actually see change for the city.
This is where you can see that Fear State and other recent events has been an eye opening experience for Batman. Because villains like Scarecrow and Joker believe in the state of chaos Gotham City that has been at the core of the city’s status quo. Which isn’t that different from Batman who has always believed in his mission from the moment he decided to become Gotham City’s protector is above all. But now we see how Batman has taken all of his experiences to understand that the world doesn’t just revolve around him. It’s a big step forward for the character that makes the entire conversation feel like a point where we are seeing an evolution of Batman’s character.
Batman’s new state of mind works well into the mystery of what the newly built Arkham Tower will represent for Gotham City. There wasn’t a big clamoring for the return as it did seem like Gotham City was fine with Arkham Asylum being destroyed. And as Batman ominously mentions, Arkham Tower does seem like the government officials trying to bring Gotham City back to the pre-Joker War status quo. How well that goes over and what the Batman Family’s response is will be very interesting to see.
It was also great that Tynion finally addressed one of the biggest problems with the entire Fear State event, which is how the rest of the world reacted to Gotham City becoming a police state. That was a missing element from Fear State that felt like a big missed opportunity given what the Magistrate were doing was game changing. Bringing in Amanda Waller to oversee the future of the Magistrate’s technology and Simon Saint’s company future presents a lot of interesting possibilities for the future. There are things that can be brought up not only in the Batman Family titles but also in books like Checkmate and others that could make Fear State an even more important even for the DCU.
Admittedly there are parts of Poison Ivy’s scene in Batman: Fear State Omega that I did not like I’m genuinely intrigued in the future plans for the character. Poison Ivy is someone that always seems to be a character DC Comics has been grooming for bigger things but never pulls the trigger on. Her scene with Gardner at least gives me hope that we will actually see big things in Poison Ivy’s future now that she is fully back.
I’ve spoke about how I’m not a fan of artwork by committee and that is no different with Batman: Fear State Omega. That said I will give Riccardo Federici, Christian Duce, Ryan Benjamin, Guillem March, and Trevor Hairsine all credit as individual artists getting the job done for their respective assignments in this issue. They gave their scenes a good energy that reflected the characters and settings they were given to draw.
The Bad: While I appreciate how Tynion does his best to leave current and future Batman writers a foundation to have as clean of slate to work off of Batman: Fear State Omega does leave you with a bad taste in your mouth for how things conclude. A large portion of this issue is concerned with putting everything back to the way things were that the characters that Tynion had us grow to be invested in feel like are now gone forever. Sure there is room to explore these characters in the future but that is all left to future writers as Miracle Molly, Ghost-Maker, Clownhunter, and Gardner were all locked away in a vault when all was said and done.
That all started with Miracle Molly ending up in jail while the rest of the Unsanity Collective is out free. Making Miracle Molly the fall guy in the Magistrate and Unsanity Collective story just did not feel like a satisfying conclusion to her arc. There was a vibe that she and the Unsanity Collective were being set up to return in more of a villainous role if they are ever brought back. It just did not work for the character we’ve grown to understand through Miracle Molly’s interactions with Batman.
Similarly, Ghost-Maker and Clownhunter being paired up in a Batman and Robin-esque way just seems to be more of getting them out of Gotham City than anything else. Which further drives home how these two characters were never brought in to be new parts of the Batman Family. They are forever outsiders that can now disappear as though they never existed. That is at least the feeling with how Batman goes about pairing them up.
But as bad as all that is no character gets a worse deal than Gardner. Out of all the mentioned characters Gardner was the newest and least developed character that Tynion introduced. She was nothing more than a plot device to get Poison Ivy back to being whole. The character ended up not doing much of anything as she could’ve never been around and things would’ve gone the same. It’s a shame because there was a lot of things that could’ve been done with Gardner’s origin and her design being so cool.
It’s also odd that with Batman: Fear State Omega being an aftermath issue that Tynion never address the impact of the Batman Family in this event. This would’ve been a good chance to show Batman address how things have been in Gotham City with Nightwing, Oracle, Red Robin, the Batgirls, Signal, and Batwoman. It would’ve definitely added to Batman’s own character arc of understanding what it means to change and evolve that he thank the others for their help during Fear State. Since if it wasn’t for the Batman Family the Magistrate would’ve never been brought down.
For as much talent as Riccardo Federici, Christian Duce, Ryan Benjamin, Guillem March, and Trevor Hairsine have as artists the artwork by committee just never worked. All of them have different styles that just ended up clashing with one another. Even when Federici carrying the bulk of the art responsibilities it did not help the pacing. Rather it just made it even more obvious how all the art styles clashed whenever the shift in artists happened.
Overall: With Batman: Fear State Omega James Tynion concludes his run on Batman by setting up the foundation for future writers to get a fresh start with the character. There is a lot of putting the genie back in the bottle with characters that Tynion introduced during his run that was disappointing to see take place. Though the steps forward that Batman seems to have made in the aftermath of Fear State does provide some intrigue in what the future will be for the franchise. All in all, this wasn’t a perfect way for Tynion to end his run on Batman but it did get the job done for what his intentions were.
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