We’re used to seeing Batman calm and rational, even in the face of unspeakable terror and overwhelming odds. He stares down death every day, both on the streets of Gotham and in service to the Justice League, where he often stands against cosmic-level threats who can shape reality on a whim and fights them off with batarangs. (Seriously, we’re not sure how he does it.) Batman has locked wits and tested his will against Bane, stared pure chaos in the face during the Joker War and fought his own literal demons from the Dark Multiverse and he’s done it all projecting a calm, cool confidence that made it clear the outcome was never in doubt. Not to him and not to the rest of us.
All of which is to say that when Batman gets scared, we get scared. And Batman is clearly very scared as “Fear State” begins in next week’s Batman #112. For months we’ve seen him tormented by the Scarecrow, a prisoner of the newly enabled master of fear. However, we’ve never known how Bruce found himself in that state. Was it possible that he allowed himself to be caught as a way of stopping Dr. Crane? Was Bruce secretly in control?
Now, after the events of last month’s Batman #111 and Batman: Fear State Alpha, it’s clear he isn’t. Unbeknownst to the Bat-Family, the Scarecrow had secretly been working with industrialist Simon Saint all this time, and Saint’s Magistrate program was just one piece of a larger plan to induce a phase of absolute terror for Gotham City—a fear state that will ultimately allow the city to evolve beyond its current existence.
If it doesn’t kill Gotham, it will make the city stronger. But that’s a pretty big if. And if Gotham was hoping Batman might save them once again…well, they might be disappointed. After all, in this exclusive preview of this opening chapter, he can’t even save himself.
Batman #112 by James Tynion IV, Jorge Jimenez and Tomeu Morey is available in print and as a digital comic book on Tuesday, September 7.