“Fear State” concludes this week in Batman #117, the culmination of Scarecrow and Magistrate’s plans crashing to a halt thanks to Batman. Well, hopefully, because if Batman doesn’t succeed, Scarecrow and the Magistrate will be behind millions of deaths! It’s a story that has been rocketing to the top of my pull list thanks to the exceptional art by Jorge Jimenez and a story that ties deeply into Batman’s desire to never stop trying to save Gotham.
This book is without a doubt one of the coolest looking books ever to see print. Jimenez and color artist Tomeu Morey are doing things visually that are hard to comprehend. Motion blur, lighting, and texture are just a few things that add realism to every page. It’s often hard to believe the level of detail you’re seeing, and it elevates every moment.
This issue pays off in a lot of ways, making the events of Batman #116 act as a satisfying bridge to his issue. Harley Quinn is an agent of resolution in the Poison Ivy subplot while Batman and Miracle Molly attempt to stop a bomb from going off. Batman ends up scratching the action itch superhero comics need while the Bat-Family satisfies the loose ends. I can’t say the villains come off as very strong or well developed here, but there’s little time for that as the story needs to close off each plot.
The real heart of the issue lies in Poison Ivy’s story. There’s a surprise involving a part of her identity that was lost which helps explain why she went so evil, but also how she’s not in the right headspace. There’s a metaphor here about mental health and not being who we really are at times.
Her actions directly lead to a rather satisfying explanation of what the Gotham residents are going through, which is conveyed via reporters on the news. There’s a message here about hope, never giving up on your fellow man, and knowing in the end we should feel more hopeful about humanity even in the toughest of times. Scarecrow’s mission was always to show Gotham to be unworthy of saving, and James Tynion IV shows us he was dead wrong in a well-written finish.
Speaking of Tynion, knowing this is his last Batman comic makes this ending bittersweet. Seeing Jimenez draw the entire Bat-family looking up at the Bat symbol in the sky, one can feel a lot of emotions. Tynion has brought a lot of heart and honest-to-goodness joy from the series and he’ll be missed.
This issue also wraps up the Batgirls backup story by Becky Cloonan, Michael Conrad, and Jorge Corona as well. Cassie and Stephanie have gone into hiding and we get to see the antics they’re up to. Considering fighting crime nightly is their bag, it doesn’t go super well as they try to keep themselves entertained. This story further shows the bond these characters have helping to develop an idea of where they’ll be once Batgirls #1 comes out.
You’d think the story would feel stuffy, but Corona and color artist Sarah Stern use the tight space well by showing different angles, sometimes impossibly high above where the ceiling would be, to convey their boredom and how much they’re trashing the place. We also gain new insight into the villain they’re up against, who has a grungy, grafitti-drenched style that works well. Really, the entire story is graffiti-drenched thanks to Corona’s incredible lines.
If expectations were running high for Batman #117, you can breathe a sigh of relief: it’s a satisfying conclusion. Tynion and Jimenez have crafted a finale that resolves story elements, supplies ample character work, and closes the door on Gotham in a satisfying and hopeful way. Considering how Gotham tends to be incredibly dark and hopeless, it’s nice to see Tynion leaves Batman in a place where his love of these characters is obvious from cover to cover while drenched in artistic mastery by Jimenez and Morey.
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!