Review: BATMAN #112
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Colours: Tomeu Morey, Jason Howard
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Batman #112: A story over a year in the making and set into motion with Infinite Frontier #0, Fear State begins! Batman played into the hands of the Scarecrow, who has unleashed a coordinated attack on Gotham City through his manipulation of Simon Saint and Peacekeeper-01. But there are other forces at work with the emergence of an Anti-Oracle spreading fake news across all channels and inciting terror and violence on the streets of Gotham! NEW HERO – PEACEKEEPER X!
Backup: Clownhunter has turned down help from Batman, Leslie Thompkins, the Red Hood, and everyone else who has offered it to him, thinking that he can handle being a vigilante on the streets of Gotham City by himself. But when he takes a shot at fighting the Scarecrow one-on-one, he’ll learn very quickly how much in this city he’s not ready for yet.
During the issues leading up to Fear State, James Tynion IV showed us flash forwards to Batman being held captive by Scarecrow. Now, in Batman #112, Batman has escaped from the villain’s clutches, but he hasn’t come through the experience unscathed. We see him experiencing hallucinations of Scarecrow.
Bruce’s radios a call for any allies in the Bat-Family that might be listening. He explains, “Scarecrow got inside my head. Not just with the usual toxins. He’s using some kind of experimental mind control technology. I don’t know if my brain has been compromised. There’s no telling what’s real anymore”. The Batman is arguably the most self-sufficient character in comics. For him to send out a distress call like this to his allies is a rare admission for the Dark Knight. And it says a lot about how desperate a situation he has found himself in.
Batman manages to find his way to Oracle’s clocktower, where he meets up with Barbara and the Batgirls. He learns that Oracle’s network has been hacked and a false Oracle has informed Gotham that Batman is dead. This anti-Oracle is a key player in Scarecrow’s plan, telling the Gothamites fake news that is designed to ramp up the level of fear in the city.
In this issue, we see Simon Saint’s response to Scarecrow’s betrayal. With Peacekeeper-01 under the influence of fear toxin, Saint unleashes a new agent, Peacekeeper-X to apprehend or kill Peacekeeper-01. The solicitation text for Batman #112 refers to Peacekeeper-X as a hero, but it seems more likely that he’s going to make things more difficult for Bruce and his allies.
I don’t know if there’s meant to be a connection between the characters or if it’s coincidence, but Peacekeeper-X reminds me of the character Red X appearing in Teen Titans Academy. Their costumes and monikers are quite similar . Both wear predominantly black costumes and both have an ‘X’ motif. In fact, Peacekeeper’s chest symbol is literally a red X. Even if it turns out that the similarities are entirely coincidental, it would be interesting to see Peacekeeper-X and Red X face off against each other.
At the story’s end, Batman summarizes the situation they’re up against to his allies. The worst of which is the dangerous level of fear that Scarecrow has instilled in the citizen’s of Gotham. Bruce states, “They have been pushed to the brink, scared out of their minds. They are capable of anything right now. And scarecrow is here, ready to push them over the edge”. The scene immediately cuts to Scarecrow, who says, “Very good now… let’s begin”, implying that Scarecrow is done with preparation and is about to put his plan into effect.
Tynion has aptly set the stage for the main event. All the players are in place for Fear State to truly begin. Tynion has done a great job of setting up Fear State as a major turning point. And now it only remains to be seen whether the event lives up to the build-up Tynion has given it.
The second story is a Clownhunter solo story, and it’s a bit of an odd story. This backup story by Brandon Thomas shows Clownhunter having an encounter with Scarecrow that ends disastrously for the young vigilante. The villain proves to be more of a challenge than the petty goons that Clownhunter has been fighting so far. The fight ends with Scarecrow tossing Clownhunter off of a building.
At first, Bao believes that he’s survived the fall and has found himself in the care of a sympathetic elderly woman. But he soon realizes that he’s in a delusion and is still falling. Given that he’s suffered one delusion so far, I suspect that the fall itself might be a delusion as well.
The problem with Clownhunter as a character is his woefully unpreparedness for the path he has chosen. It seemed inevitable that he would quickly run up against opponents that would easily outmatch him. This story seems to be tackling that issue head on. It would be great if this story leads to Bao coming to realize the danger of this deficiency and perhaps find himself a mentor that can train him to be a more effective crimefighter.
It’s hard to judge this issue accurately. Tynion has done a tremendous job setting things up for his Fear State event. But if the event doesn’t live up to the expectations this will undermine the build-up he has created. However, Tynion is a talented writer, so I believe that Fear State will be all that Tynion has led us to expect. But the jury is still out on that until the event reaches its conclusion.
Batman #112 marks the end of Tynion’s set-up for the major event that will conclude his run on the title. The potential is there for this to be an all-time classic story, but it remains to be seen if Tynion can deliver. I’m hoping he can. Thomas’ Clownhunter backup story shows some potential too. But it’s an interesting beginning and I look forward to seeing where he’s going with it.