DC’s Fear State event ties into various other titles, but its main story takes place right here in Batman. Issue #115 continues the adventures in Part Four this week, which features Jorge Jimenez and Bengal on art and a backup story featuring the Batgirls by Michael Conrad, Becky Cloonan, and Jorge Corona. Given the multi-pronged plotting of the event, expect advancement in the story, but you may ask yourself where the fear is by story’s end.
Batman #115 features three plots, starting with Magistrate Skybase and the chaos ensuing there, jumping to the sewers where Peacekeeper is reeling from wounds, Miracle Molly and Batman teaming up to stop Scarecrow’s plan to destroy Gotham, and finally Poison Ivy in Eden nearly ready to pull all of Gotham down. James Tynion IV pops from plot to plot, dropping important exposition as needed, but since it bounces around so much overall advancement of the story is minimal.
The biggest takeaway from the story is another layer to technology Miracle Molly helped make that could give Batman an edge over Scarecrow. There’s some interesting backstory revealed for one of Mad Hatter’s henchmen, too. The issue suffers a bit from being low on the action, with one fight kicking into gear between Batman and a rather nondescript henchman. Tynion smartly ties this henchman’s ability to Miracle Molly’s genius, but aside from that, it’s a rather boring issue if you’re looking for action. It’s unfortunate, however, that the cover is far more interesting than the actual scene that it is referring to.
The issue is predominantly drawn by Bengal who offers a simpler and sometimes cartoony look to the work. It’s jarring when the art jumps to Jorge Jimenez, who offers a hyper-detailed and realistic look. All told, Jimenez draws only three pages so the jarring change is very limited. It does make you wish for more Jimenez in part because his work is so incredible and mind-bogglingly good, but Bengal keeps the story moving well enough.
The backup continues to show how well Conrad and Cloonan work together and also how Corona is a comics artist to watch. The art style has a punk quality with a graffitti style and bright colors by Sarah Stern. Corona’s angular style — seriously, Barbara has a square head at one point! — gives the story an artistic feel that suits the villain messing with our heroes.
The voice of all these characters is on point and the use of Cassandra Cain is great too. Here’s to looking forward to Cloonan and Conrad’s work on Batgirls which is out in December. A key to an ensemble like this is how the characters riff off each other and you get varying dynamics in this shorter backup.
Batman’s Fear State story carries on here, but it progresses in a much too slow way. Bouncing from multiple plots with little action makes for a rather boring fourth chapter. Expect to find some table setting in an okay chapter that could have used the zing of Jimenez’s art a lot more. Still, the backup is enjoyable which makes the overall package worth a look.
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