Story Arc: Fear State.
Writer(s): James Tynion IV.
Penciler(s): Jorge Jimenez, Bengal.
Colourist(s): Tomeu Morey.
Letterer(s): Clayton Cowles.
Publisher: DC Comics.
Format: Single Issues.
Release Date: March 15th, 2022.
Genre(s): Comics, Superheroes, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating:
Previously in the Batman (2016—) series:
Batman (Vol. 1): Their Dark Designs by James Tynion IV.
Batman (vol. 2): The Joker War by James Tynion IV.
Batman (Vol. 3): Ghost Stories by James Tynion IV.
Batman (Vol. 4): The Cowardly Lot Part One by James Tynion IV.
It is no surprise when villains put the city in which they reside through the wringer and force the hands of its heroes, sometimes to the extent of pushing their physical and psychological strengths to the extreme limits. Since writer James Tynion IV’s debut on this comic book run, starting with Batman #86, he has approached the Caped Crusader with tact and offered fans a grim, ally-surrounded, and complex characterization where both Bruce Wayne and Batman’s psyche were crucial to his survival. Concluding his time on this canonical Batman series and collecting Batman #112-117, writer James Tynion IV teams up one last time with artist Jorge Jiménez to deliver his grand finale before handing over the mantle to writer Joshua Williamson.
What is Batman: Fear State? Gotham City is now on the verge of self-destruction as Batman has to participate in a two-front battle. On one end, he must hunt down the Scarecrow before his mass-brainwash experiment sends the population into a delirious and fear-fueled mayhem, as he uses Peacekeeper-01’s (Sean Mahoney) tormented mind to his benefice to create his Fear State. On the other end, the Magistrate is ready to begin his high-tech and high-level law enforcement project with the accord of mayor Christopher Nakano. Still, before the world can embrace this new draconian anti-vigilante authoritative vision, Simon Saint must stop the now insane Peacekeeper-01 before the Magistrate’s reputation is harmed. With unusual allies waiting in the periphery, Batman must act quickly before Gotham City succumbs under the weight of this newly-established chaos.
“Batman will die. Gotham City will evolve. You can resist and die yourself, or you can let it make you better. Make… Your… Choice…”— James Tynion IV
Once more, this final story arc falls victim to a larger marketing and publisher issue as the narrative suffers from the absence of crossover issues that could potentially fill in the plot holes spread across this major crossover event. With the release of Batman: Fear State Saga, containing the additional issues, from Secret Files to the Alpha & Omega stories, fans are better off picking up the complete story than focusing solely on the Batman issues. The absence of these issues mostly emphasizes writer James Tynion IV’s weaknesses, noticeable in terms of narrative pacing and his tendency toward unstoppable torrents of words through an abundance of dialogues. Although there is some great characterization and key dilemmas discussed in-depth, it is difficult to not observe their irrelevance, which could have been spared to allow readers to indulge in the subtleties of these intimate and emotional moments through action and artwork alone.
With all the major new characters created by writer James Tynion IV making their appearance once more in this final battle, allowing him to wrap up the motley of narrative threads that he has had difficulty weaving together since his debut, the story itself is not particularly impressive, often feeling like certain central ideas didn’t get the opportunity to properly bloom. Where his comic book run did succeed however is almost entirely thanks to the phenomenal artwork by artist Jorge Jiménez. There isn’t a single moment where his artwork doesn’t command the narrative and leave the reader mesmerized by the glorious character designs, impeccable and dynamic action sequences, and phenomenal grasp over emotion and feeling. Tomeu Morey’s colouring also adds electricity and madness to the world, perfectly capturing a world on the brink of destruction. It would not be an exaggeration to vouch for this comic book run simply for its visual exploits. And, of course, Batman.
Batman: Fear State is a chaotic and frenzied finale marking writer James Tynion IV’s final moments as the lead writer as he sends Batman up against Scarecrow and the Magistrate in a nutty and twisted two-front battle.