Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Batman #113 Review


Welcome to Primetime...

Writer: James Tynion IV and Brandon Thomas
Artist: Jorge Jimenez, Jason Howard, Tomeu Morey, and Clayton Cowles
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: September 21, 2021

I haven't been loving Fear State so far, and while I know we're only two issues into it, James Tynion has been setting things up for a while now... only to set things up again.  That's not my main problem, though.  I understand how these big crossovers work and know that it's essential to get everyone on the same page at the start, but it still sucks for those reading all the books up to this point.  Again, though, that's not my main problem. My main concern is not seeing how the average Gotham citizen is dealing with all of this.  Sure, we told that Gotham is still reeling from the Joker War or that Gotham is panicking, but we rarely, if ever, see it on the page.  That doesn't bode well for a story about a city on the brink of losing its shit!  Tynion is setting up Gotham City's residents to be Scarecrow's greatest patient, yet we don't see them or their reactions to much of anything.  Let's see if that changes in this issue...

The issue opens up with more Anti-Oracle (I'm guessing that the last issue of I am Batman spoiled that this baddie will eventually be called "Seer") messages going over the otherwise shutdown airwaves. At the same time, we see all the Fear State players walking around, looking pensive or, in Batman's case, swinging through Gotham.  It's more of that "let's show who is involved in the story" recap that is already getting old, but at least Anti-Oracle is upping their game and getting darker and darker with their "hide your kids, hide your wife..." message.

We continue with Batman visiting Renee Montoya, who keeps questioning her decision to take over as Commissioner.  Batman pretty much tells Montoya everything about Simon Saint, the Magistrate, and Mayor Nakano.  The only thing they need to bring it all down is to establish the connection between Saint and Scarecrow.  I guess that's easier said than done and sets up the gist of the "detecting" part of the story.  Back to my earlier point... Montoya TELLS Batman, "Gotham is at a breaking point. Lies are spreading through the City like wildfire."  Is it?  Are they?  I know Anti-Oracle is spewing their fear messages, but everyone we see, including Montoya right before this, knows that Anti-Oracle is bullshit. 

The other problem with this story is the tug-of-war between the Magistrate and the Scarecrow.  Fear State works in Gotham because it's all about crazy fears that go from rational to irrational and spread among people like mass hypnotists.  What better place to set it up than Gotham with its recent Joker War, City of Bane, and even Endgame.  Yet, the Magistrate is all about a police state that shuts down any information that isn't theirs, that keeps the peace by keeping everyone off the streets.  Sure, that can lead to its own brand of fear and paranoia, but the two don't seem to jive in the same way.  Of course, this is all part of Simon Saint's plan to take over, but both are fighting for the spotlight here and muddying up the overall Fear State narrative.  Plus, Simon Saint already looks like he planned to set up the Magistrate, and now that's happened, he is way over his head, which is another problem I have with the overall narrative.

Back to the story, Batman leaves Montoya and decides to pose for an awesome-looking swing through the City when he gets confronted by some Magistrate Peacekeepers.  These must be the Cybers we saw in Future State, which seem to show up here without much setup or fanfare, but are good punching bags for Batman to show he's still got it.

After an extended fight scene, Batman goes to see his buddy, Ghostmaker, to watch some mind movies using an old VR headset that is "the approximation of short-range telepathy based on Mother Box tech."  Yea, those seem like words just thrown together like those classic refrigerator magnets, but I can go with it, I guess.  I don't have much choice because most of the remaining page space is Ghostmaker in Batman's mind searching for anything Scarecrow might have left behind.

It all starts playing out like a deleted scene from a Freddy Kruger movie, complete with Ghostmaker getting overly jokey, the possibility of the big rule (die in the dream...), and a quick nightmare-like battle.  When that's over, Tynion reveals why we are really here, to somehow switch over to Ghostmaker's memories and see his past connection with Scarecrow, or at least Jonathan Crane.  Besides not making much sense, to begin with, this does set up Ghostmaker to be more of a villain in this story possibly.  I thought he was Anti-Oracle already, and this makes me believe it even more.

Just as a quick aside, did Tynion think this played off like a horror movie?  It made me realize that even though this Event is called "Fear State," there is a real lack of any scares or fear in it.

This issue ends with Peacekeeper-X confronting Peacekeeper-01 while Scarecrow watches on and Batman says a badass action movie line to end the issue.  The Clownhunter backup continues in this issue, but there isn't much to it besides looking cool.

So, Fear State continues to limp along.  Tynion talks a big game, but the psycho-mumbo jumbo he is setting it all up is a foundation of sand, and a bunch of his moving pieces are working directly against each other.  Fear State hasn't risen above the setup that has been going on in this book for almost a year, making this Event feel very uneventful.  It looks fantastic, and there is plenty of time and space to make things better, but what we've gotten so far doesn't have me optimistic.

Bits and Pieces:

Fear State continues, and while I want to see how the Scarecrow's plan is working in a big picture sort of way, Tynion narrows the view even more.  This issue looks great, but the story only moves inches on all fronts and needs to pick up asap.  Hopefully, the tie-ins lend a hand because the main book has been a dud so far.


No comments:

Post a Comment