Batman in recent years has had issues going from event to event, a non-stop cacophony of chaos. Future State gave a slight break taking us to a future Gotham, one controlled by fascist police. After, we got a line that focused on that possible future, each series having an “end goal” to get us to. It’s been fresh in some ways delivering one vision in a way.
James Tynion IV‘s run began plagued by “mini event” syndrome with each arc feeling like a “big event” shrunk down to fit in a trade, some major story that wound up just setting up what’s next. Post Future State, that feeling has gone away a bit with story arcs focused on Gotham’s possible future with numerous plot threads all combining to move Batman’s story along. With Batman: Fear State Alpha, we get some of those threads coming together, things that have been hinted at for some time.
Tynion’s run has been up and down but for some time now, the series has show massive improvement as it has been laser focused on Simon Saint and his slow takeover of Gotham through his technology and military police force. We’ve had interesting characters and new factions introduced. But, what’s been interesting is that Tynion has, in many ways, been addressing the “event fatigue” that has been a hallmark of recent Batman runs. Batman: Fear State Alpha puts that fatigue square in the center as Scarecrow’s place within Simon Saint’s plan is fully explored. The comic in many ways is the villain explaining their complicated plan but it works really well.
Batman: Fear State Alpha is the rare start to an event that works as moving the story forward but also acting as a primer for those new to the story. It does a great job of not just focusing on Batman, but Oracle, Harley, and more importantly, Gotham as a whole. It lays out what’s going on, why, and what our heroes will be up against. There’s frustrating moments, the fact the elected officials are this dumb, but Tynion even addresses that through a character vocalizing doubts. It’s a meta comic in some ways not just commenting and the endless event driven storyline but also the reader screaming at stupid decisions characters make.
Riccardo Federici handles the art duties with Chris Sotomayor on color and Clayton Cowles lettering. The art is pretty solid giving us a look that’s just to the side of nightmare. The style really fits a story about fear and the Scarecrow at the center. It never quite crosses the line into nightmare territory but there’s a look to the style that really works for the subject matter. The characters look solid and there’s a great amount of emotion delivered. With the angles and panels presented the way they are at times, it all comes together to leave readers slightly off, just before a Scarecrow attack.
Batman: Fear State Alpha is a solid start to the next Batman event. There’s an awareness about it all that acknowledges what has come before and works it into the story. It works as a great introduction to the event while really laying things out for long time readers. There’s a lot packed into the story and as far things go, a solid start for what’s to come.
Story: James Tynion IV Art: Riccardo Federici
Color: Chris Sotomayor Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.15 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8.15 Recommendation: Buy
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review