Review: BATMAN #113
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Jorge Jimenez
Colors: Tomeu Morey
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Batman #113: Ghost-Maker reveals a dark revelation about his past connection to Jonathan Crane while Batman puts together the pieces of Scarecrow’s master plan. Using the Unsanity Collective’s technology, the villain plans to detonate a “Fear Bomb” in Gotham City!
Backup: Clownhunter has been dosed by the Scarecrow with a deadly fear toxin and is now traveling through his greatest nightmare of Gotham City. Will the Clownhunter center himself and strike back at Scarecrow? Or will he succumb to all his worst fears?!
Batman #114 opens with the false Oracle delivering a message to the citizens of Gotham designed to heighten their fear. It’s still a mystery who has co-opted Barbara’s network to further Scarecrow’s agenda. But it’s still unclear who this imposter Oracle is. It’s got to be someone pretty tech-savvy to manage it. However, it looks like that particular mystery is going to be explored in the Nightwing chapters of Fear State.
We also see Batman confronting Commissioner Montoya in her office to fill her in on what’s going on with Scarecrow and the Magistrate. Even though Batman and the other masked heroes are persona non grata in Gotham, Montoya listens to what Batman has to say. It’s important to remember that despite her current position, she was a masked vigilante herself not too long ago.
She also makes an important observation: “The people need to believe in something– all together. It’s the only way to break them out of this…”. That may be the crux of the Fear State storyline. Will Batman be able to give the people something to believe in? Or will Simon Saint’s Magistrate win out and fill that void? Or will the people of Gotham settle on some third option?
We also get to see one of the strangest Bat-gadgets yet. If there’s any doubts about Batman being one of the DCU’s greatest inventors of tech, this device should lay them to rest. Batman refers to it as “a technological approximation of short-range telepathy based on Mother Box techology” – or as Ghost-Maker calls it, “a Bat-mind-control helmet”.
Batman asks Ghost-Maker to use this device to make sure that Scarecrow hasn’t compromised his mind. They successfully rid Batman’s mind of Scarecrow’s influence. After which, Ghost-Maker makes an interesting observation: “There’s a philosophy to what Crane is doing here, Bruce. But it can’t work on you. You’ve already gone through the Fear State and survived”.
This has some interesting implications. If Batman has gone through the Fear State and evolved because of that, does that mean that Scarecrow’s current plan might actually benefit Gotham in the long run? And if Crane succeeds, what exactly would that mean for Gotham? That would be a very interesting idea to explore further.
Before exiting Bruce’s mind, Ghost-Maker reveals to Bruce that he sought out Jonathan Crane years earlier. This is mainly an opportunity for Tynion to explain Crane’s Fear State theory in greater detail. But I find Ghost-Maker’s motive for seeking out Crane to be intriguing. After Bruce had told Ghost-Maker that his lack of empathy is a weakness, Ghost-Maker sought Crane out, hoping that Crane could teach him how to feel fear.
I sense that there’s a hint here about how they are going to defeat Crane. It’s no accident that Tynion introduced a hero that is immune to fear to Gotham City just in time for Scarecrow to subject Gotham to his Fear State. I strongly suspect that Ghost-Maker will be key to the conclusion of this storyline.
In the backup story, Clownhunter continues to experience hallucinations while he continues to fall to his death. Like Gotham, Bao is being forced to confront his fears. I wonder if Scarecrow is also putting Clownhunter through a Fear State experience to force him to evolve. It will be interesting to see if this story will lead Bao to make a step forward. I think it’s likely, as the path he’s on doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. But first he has to survive the fall off a Gotham building.
I have nothing to complain about Tynion’s story so far. He’s given Fear State a powerful setup. And now we finally get to see if he can deliver the payoff. It seems a tall order, but I have faith in Tynion’s storytelling abilities. I doubt that he’ll choke now.
With Batman #113, Tynion has brought us to the point where the real fun begins. As Batman says, “Scarecrow’s turned the city into a powder keg. Peacekeeper-01’s the match that’s going to blow it all to hell”. And now we will find out if Tynion’s story will live up to this explosive promise.