Batman #117 – James Tynion IV, Becky Cloonan/Michael W. Conrad, Writers; Jorge Jimenez, Jorge Corona, Artists; Tomeu Morey, Sarah Stern, Colorists
Ray – 9.5/10
Ray: Fear State is James Tynion IV’s final big story in the Bat-books, but what’s surprising is how little it feels like a traditional comic book event. Sure, there are villains and even a powerhouse who Batman can fight, but this is a comic with a lot more on its mind. It’s as much about what fear and anger does to a person than it is about fighting villains. That becomes very clear in this issue, as it’s often unlikely decisions that make all the difference. That starts from the first page, as the corrupt Simon Saint is taken down not by Batman, but by the Bat-family as they arrive to arrest him and dismantle the Magistrate network without throwing a single punch. But while Simon is done, the same can’t be said for the brutal Peacekeeper-01.
It’s surprising how little Jonathan Crane has actually had to do in this story, pulling off his master plan and then mostly just skulking around the shadows. Instead, Sean Mahoney has largely taken over the role of the big bad, and he makes a decent “final boss.” But the fight is the least interesting part of the issue, as this story is defined by two conversations. One, between Batman and Miracle Molly, shows a very different Batman than we’ve seen in a long time. The other, between Harley and Ivy, is some of the very best writing Tynion has done during his time at DC and will have Harley/Ivy fans cheering from their seats. These two need their own series as a couple in continuity. But while Tynion has one oversized issue to go, it feels like he’s set up a strong legacy as a Bat-writer.
Then there’s the Batgirls backup, which wraps up this issue with a final segment that sets us up for a great ongong. Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown are wanted, framed, and forced to crash in a run-down apartment while Barbara tries to clear their names and expose Seer. This leads to some great roommate comedy as the unlikely friends bond, but there’s some real tension lurking in the background. This is probably the first time the two girls have really felt “real” since they were introduced, getting to be more than background superheroes. It goes a long way to get us invested in their upcoming series, although the Seer reveal at the end could go either way. But as this site’s resident StephCass stan, I give this backup two big thumbs up.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.