Batman #112 review

Batman #112. The second issue of Fear State, and the second issue that does absolutely nothing to progress the story. I feel like we’re getting played over here.

Last week Batman: Fear State Alpha hit shelves and people had mixed feelings about it. The book was designed for readers who hadn’t been picking up all of the various Bat titles tied to the event, so they’d know what’s been going on in Gotham lately. That issue contained a ton of exposition, but it was genuinely executed well and managed to accomplish its mission rather successfully. Yes, if you’ve been reading all of the Bat-books then it might have felt like a bit of a slog, but for everyone else, I bet it was rather engaging. I typically despise exposition but it is needed from time to time, and Fear State Alpha did it well.

At the end of Fear State Alpha, Batman manages to break free from Scarecrow’s reign and escape. In this issue, we see more of Batman escaping and enduring more hallucinations. This is the first example of unnecessary repetition from previous issues. The opening pages of every chapter of “The Cowardly Lot” features Batman being tortured by Scarecrow and hallucinating. In each instance – including this one – it does nothing more than show Batman is struggling… That’s it.

The story progresses to show that Batman makes it to the Clock Tower, where he’s taken down by Cassandra before skirting into an awkward, “You’re alive?” exchange. This then leads to a massive, issue-long exposition dump where Oracle basically recaps most of Fear State: Alpha, which – as a reminder – is nothing more than a recap of what’s been going on in various titles leading up to this.

To make matters worse, interwoven throughout the entire issue is a commercial promoting the Magistrate, Simon Saint, Peace-Keeper 01, and what they plan on doing for Gotham. While I understand that the ads are meant to represent what’s playing on all of Gotham’s TVs, the reality of showing this, in detail, now doesn’t make sense. It’s information and propaganda that we already know. Had these clips been shown back when Nakano agreed to work with Simon Saint at the very beginning of the arc, it would’ve been exponentially more impactful. Instead, this just feels like it’s there to pad the story, and doesn’t add any tension. In fact, if I were a citizen of Gotham and my tv suddenly transitioned to Magistrate ads and nothing else, I’d be concerned about what the city is trying to hide.

Speaking of Simon Saint, he’s still in a puking panic because of Scarecrow turning on them and doping Peace-Keeper 01 with a lethal dose of fear toxin. With PK now hallucinating and terrorizing Gotham, Saint’s public image could be in the toilet. Naturally, he has a backup plan though, as he suddenly remembers that he has a mech suit more dangerous than Peace Keeper 01’s… And that leads to the introduction of Peace Keeper X, who is actually just Saint’s house boy that Batman already beat the snot out of… And then the issue ends.

Look, I know I can be overly critical, but I don’t think that asking for something to happen is asking too much from a $5 monthly comic. This is just insulting at this point. As fans and consumers, our wallets are getting raped. Also, this is, officially, the first issue of an event. Tynion should be kicking this off with a bang! Not a meandering look back. Narratively, this isn’t good, and I can’t recommend people to spend money on something that has absolutely no payoff.

The Art

The one good thing about this issue is the art. As always, Jorge Jimenez really delivers here, and there’s more than one page that looks poster-worthy. Unfortunately, when you have a story that does very little narratively, that means that the artist has very little to do as well. I can’t help but feel that Jimenez’s talent is being wasted on James Tynion’s Batman. Literally half of the issue is illustrations of a Saint Industries/ Magistrate advertisement. What a colossal waste!

Jimenez is so talented, and he’s not getting anything that will let him emotionally explore characters in-depth. In addition to this, he creates incredible, dynamic action – which is also void here. I find it more and more difficult to discuss the art on Batman because while I recognize how good Jimenez is, there is literally nothing for him to do. He deserves better. Fans deserve better. And Tynion/ editors shouldn’t be allowing this type of product to move forward to print.

“DIY” featuring Clownhunter

The backup story for this issue is “DIY” written by Brandon Thomas with art by Jason Howard. The story features Clownhunter encountering Scarecrow in a confrontation on a Gotham City rooftop. He’s bested physically (sure, I guess…), before getting dosed with fear toxin and being thrown from the building. He has some trippy hallucinations while falling to his death, and comes to mid-fall. That’s it… That’s the story. I’ll let you decide if it’s worth your time.

Recommended if:

  • Check it out for Jorge Jimenez’s art. That’s all.

Overall: James Tynion proves, once again, that he’s not only the king of exposition but that he’s the king of regurgitating exposition. This issue does nothing to move the needle and fails to deliver any excitement unless the final page does the trick for you. But even then, Peace Keeper X is nothing more than a copy of a copy, which is just an individual representation of a very tired idea. Jorge Jimenez’s art is fantastic, but also completely wasted considering there’s literally nothing for him to do here. I was excited for Fear State, but this first chapter was nothing more than a massive letdown. Oh, and skip the Clownhunter backup.

SCORE: 4/10