James Tynion wraps his run on Batman with Fear State: Omega, or as I’m going to refer to it: “clean up your crappy mess and get out.” Yeah, that’s a little harsh, but seriously… It really feels that way.
After spending months building a story, only to rush to a conclusion, we now get an exposition issue that quickly ties up loose ends before the next creator, Joshua Williamson, takes the helm. And that’s honestly the only purpose for this issue: to end things. All of the characters that were built up and hyped, quickly find themselves swept under a rug, most likely (hopefully?) to never be seen again. And I’m perfectly ok with that.
While reading this issue, I had three major thoughts. 1. Riccardo Federici’s art is incredible and he needs to do more work asap (preferably on a book that’s actually good). 2. Tynion really is just throwing all of his toys back into the toy box. And 3. Fear State – and, ultimately, Tynion’s entire run – is pointless.
Starting off with Federici’s art, every panel and page he contributed is breathtaking. This issue is nothing but exposition, and he made it compelling and engaging despite that. If you’ll remember, he did this with Fear State: Alpha as well. I don’t want to go so far as to say that he made me want to read this book, but seeing his art makes me want to read other comics he’s done. But seriously, the guy is so good he should be doing quality work like Doomsday Clock, Three Jokers, or Killer Smile.
Additional artists contributed to the book as well. Christian Duce, Ryan Benjamin, Guillem March, and Trevor Hairsine all participated in this issue, and while their work wasn’t bad, Federici’s work made theirs look like amateur hour. I don’t say that to be condescending, it’s just the reality of the situation, and something DC needs to be more aware of before they bring in fill-in artists.
Moving on to the plot, this issue is nothing more than a paint-by-numbers exposition dump to end everything Tynion had going. I’ve commented in a number of reviews how Tynion “wrote around his story,” and this issue proves that. There are so many plot points here that should have been introduced into the narrative, and instead, we got issue after issue repeating the same story beats. It’s poor, lazy writing, and one of the main reasons I tend to cite Tamaki as the better of the two flagship books.
Here we get Batman and Scarecrow on a ride-along as they explain everything. (Hey, it wouldn’t be a Tynion book without walls of exposition in a visual medium though, right?). Along the way, we learn that Miracle Molly provides testimony against Saint so she can go to jail in the place of the rest of the Unsanity Collective. Umm… I don’t think that’s how that works, but ok…
We then see that Fox is leading the recovery of the Magistrate’s sky base as Jace looks on, and that Batman is aware that someone else is operating as Batman and will deal with him soon enough… Umm… We already know Jace is going to New York, but ok…
Next, it’s revealed that Saint’s technology is being broken up and sold off to the highest bidders, and that he will be working off his time under the watchful eye of the U.S. Government. *cough* Amanda Waller and the Suicide Squad. *cough*. Umm… I don’t think anyone wants to see this unless he gets shot and killed on his first mission, but ok…
It’s revealed that Peace Keeper-01 Sean Mahoney managed to escape custody and is on the run, because, dear God, the one thing we need more of is the Magistrate or any ties to it. I mean, people have been talking about how sick they were of the Magistrate and its ilk since before Future State debuted. It’s now been a year of this, and DC is just teasing more… Umm, I don’t think you’re listening to your audience, but ok…
If you’re hoping we’re done with this romp-fest down Tynions worst-of-the-worst, I regret to inform you that we’re not. There’s a ham-fisted wrap-up to the Catwoman/Ivy/Harley/Gardner “arc” that ultimately ends with Ivy telling Gardner to get out. Umm, I guess this is supposed to have some feeling of emotional weight, but since Gardner was nothing more than a plot device, it doesn’t… so… ok… I guess.
Things only get worse from here as we wrap up the arcs for Tynion’s most insufferable and obnoxious characters, Ghost-Maker and Clownhunter. This is, by far, the clunkiest and most forced scene in the entire issue. It’s embarrassingly bad. Clownhunter lectures Batman (because we haven’t had enough of that over the past year), and still, Batman tries to reason with him (Fuck my life. What? It’s my second-to-last review for the site… I had to drop an f-bomb in there somewhere.). Ghost-Maker jumps in to make Batman more of a chump (God I’m so glad Tynion Ghost-Maker won’t be around anymore to stroke his own penis ego). Then, Ghost-Maker offers to train Clownhunter to be a badass that doesn’t kill. After acknowledging that Ghost-Maker wanted him dead the last time they saw each other (How’s that for some massive character contradictions?), Bao accepts the offer. Umm, this makes no sense whatsoever, but for the sheer desire to never see these two again, I’ll just cheerfully say, “Ok…”
Finally, we get Batman delivering Scarecrow being delivered to the new not-Arkham, where he will be overseen by Dr. Chase “clearly-not-Nicole-Kidman-because-of-legal-reasons” Meridian. And… Ok. I’m ok with this.
And for my third point from earlier… What will Tynion’s legacy be? I think it will be a lackluster one, at least as far as Batman is concerned. He started with so much promise, but I’ve been burned by Tynion way too many times to hold out hope, and I feel like he proved my point here. How will history remember his run? Most likely as one that spun its wheels for a good while before abruptly ending while still trying to hold on to some delusions of self-importance. And this isn’t a dis against James Tynion. He’s a wonderfully, nice fellow who loves this medium, but this isn’t good work. Go read some of his indies. They’re pretty damn good.
Whether you read Tynion’s run or just Fear State, you might as well finish at this point.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.