October is here, which means it’s the perfect time for Dr. Jonathan Crane, aka The Scarecrow, to strike terror into Gotham City again – and now, he’s getting even deeper into the head of Batman than ever before.
If that wasn’t bad enough, he may have also uncovered the Bat’s true identity.
DC Comics and a creative team led by the pen of James Tynion IV said goodbye to Future State and kicked off Halloween early when they ushered in the latest Bat-event, Fear State, in Batman #112 in September.
In the issue, it was revealed that Bruce has been captured and held prisoner by Scarecrow, who is craftier and more fearsome than ever, for an undetermined amount of time.
He was able to break free, but Bruce doesn’t know how much Crane may have learned when he was in captivity under the influence of Crane’s fear toxin.
Scarecrow could know his archenemy’s true identity is Batman (remember, Bruce Wayne is the mask).
Whether he has or not is unclear, but that knowledge would give Crane an edge over the Dark Knight that he’s never had before (except in the present season of Titans on HBO Max).
What we do know is Bruce can still feel the Master of Fear in his head, despite having cleansed himself of the toxin.
Losing the advantage of his secret identity, he may be compelled to leave Gotham and hand the mantle of the Dark Knight to somebody else.
The fact such a development already happened in John Ridley’s The Next Batman, with Lucius Fox’s son Tim taking on the job, suggests Bruce might chicken out and actually do it this time – without having fulfilled his goal of saving Gotham.
It happened before in TV shows such as Titans, Batwoman, and Birds of Prey, and considering what DC is like today creatively, don’t be surprised if Tynion goes that route.
Scarecrow’s plans have been brewing since Future State, so he’s had time to spread his fear everywhere and psych out everyone including the Bat.
Working with industrialist Simon Saint – CEO of Saint Industries and creator of the Peacekeeper unit that’s currently putting the city in a stranglehold – Scarecrow is developing a secret ploy to enact the Fear State and spur Gotham to “evolve beyond its current existence.”
Naturally, Scarecrow goes rogue and leaves Saint in such a lurch that he unleashes a new Peacekeeper in the seriously upgraded model X, while the X’s predecessor Peacekeeper 01 turns up after going missing.
Unfortunately for the people of Gotham, who are already boarding up windows and steering clear of the streets, Peacekeeper 01 is in a crazed frenzy brought on by fear toxin that has him believing everyone in sight is a cannibal out to eat him.
Where is the rest of the Bat-Family in all this, namely Barbara “Oracle” Gordon?
She was locked out of her connection to Gotham’s servers and mainframe by an “Anti-Oracle”, who drew inspiration from the Gotham government’s order that Gothamites should stay in their home because the air and water are toxic in order to ‘cut off’ Oracle from the outside world.
Big things are in store for the rest of Fear State – such as the return of new characters including Ghostmaker, Clownhunter, and Miracle Molly – and afterward.
Additionally, none other than The Joker teased something big coming in his own title but that’s another story.
Written by James Tynion IV, and with art by Jorge Jimenez and colors by Tomeu Morey, the Fear State saga wends its way through the pages of Batman (starting in issue #112), Catwoman, and Nightwing.
The key entries are being collected in the Batman Vol. 5: Fear State hardcover, which is expected to release in March 2022.
Have you been keeping up with Fear State? Let us know what you think of it in the comments.