Fear State continues this week as Batman seeks to save his city from destroying itself. Last issue got the Caped Crusader back in the game and now he’s going on the offensive. The story so far has been extremely plot heavy, and issue #113 comes in to provide some much-needed action. It’s a brilliantly illustrated issue that deepens the overarching plot and also has a particularly great action set piece early on.
SPOILERS AHEAD for Batman #113!
The issue opens on a Gotham consumed by fear. The citizens are either holed up in terror or looting. A distorted Oracle’s voice rings through the streets that Batman has been declared dead and no one is coming to save the day. However, the Dark Knight is determined to prove the reports of his death have been greatly exaggerated. He takes to the streets to establish his presence before tactically retreating to his cave for some mental deprogramming with Ghost-Maker.
The absolute highlight of this issue is the action set piece that occurs near the beginning. We are given a visual feast as Batman tears into the Magistrate’s drones and proves their utter incompetence. He deftly dodges in and out of gunfire, dismantling their electronics with ease. All the while he explains to Simon Saint how easy it’s going to be to defeat him. This scene encapsulates everything one could want from Batman. He’s as badass as ever and has planned eight steps ahead to defeat the villain. This scene is beautifully rendered by artists Jorge Jiminez and Tomeau Morey and proves they’re the best at what they do.
After this scene, the story pivots to a psychedelic journey into Bruce’s mind. Bruce and Ghost-Maker delve into Bruce’s subconscious to see what Scarecrow left behind during his torture. This is a really cool idea that capitalizes on the fluidity of events and visuals. As our heroes sift through the memories, it turns out they might not be the only ones rattling around in Bruce’s head. The visuals here are also standout, and in particular Morey’s coloring lends itself to creating an eerie atmosphere.
Without going to deep into specifics at this point, the issue also contains an extended sequence detailing the Fear State theory and its utilization. Here the story screeches to a halt as a character explains to the reader his goals. Despite there being so much time devoted to “explaining” the master plan, its purpose remains unclear. It centers around the idea of mass manipulation of a populous, but to what end is never elaborated. Manipulating people is a given evil, but what this manipulation is supposed to bring about is still unclear. Hopefully the end goal will become more clear as the story progresses, but at this point it’s still up in the air.
The Clownhunter back up also returns here. In the grips of Scarecrow’s toxin, Bao struggles to shake off a waking nightmare. It’s still a visual treat with a particularly great title splash. The story is nothing we haven’t seen before. It’s our protagonist’s first exposure to fear toxin, so his greatest fears haunt and hunt him. Despite this, the distinct art style makes it an easy read.
Batman #113 rectifies some past issues while continuing others. The action beats are the high points here especially with the artwork. Yet at the same time, the issue continues to feel the need to over-explain/re-explain the plot and somehow still leave the end goal ambiguous. This issue is a step in the right direction for the arc and continues to be one of the best illustrated books on the comic rack.
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