In the aftermath of The Joker War and the horrific A-Day bombing of Arkham Asylum, Gotham City is in a state of panic. To this end, Simon Saint and Saint Industries have stepped in to help bring a state of peace with the Magistrate with Sean Mahoney, a survivor of A-Day, becoming Peacekeeper-01 to lead a new group known as the Magistrate. Thanks to actions performed behind the scenes, Saint is seeking to push Mayor Nakano to accept the Magistrate to protect Gotham. However, not everyone is keen to this idea.
Jonathan Crane, the Scarecrow, has found that these actions are pushing Gotham into a heightened since of fear. This is something he wants, he enjoys. And thanks to a new dosage of Fear Toxin, he has turned Peacekeeper-01 into a fear-driven madman.
This is not a Future State anymore. This is now a Fear State. To try and save Gotham, Batman will need all the help he can get and one man may become The Next Batman.
Fear State starts with three prologue issues — I Am Batman #0, Catwoman #34 and Harley Quinn #6 — before jumping into Batman: Fear State Alpha one-shot before continuing in Batman #112 - #117 and ending with Batman: Fear State Omega. There will also be tie-in issues throughout Nightwing, Catwoman, Harley Quinn, and I Am Batman.
Tropes Used in this Event:
- Bat Family Crossover: While the main story is situated in Batman, all the other Bat-Family titles except Robin are involved in the event.
- Big Bad: Scarecrow masterminded the Fear State itself, taking it out from under Simon Saint.
- Big Bad Wannabe: Simon Saint fancies himself as the one in control but Scarecrow plays him like a fiddle and Saint steadily becomes more and more unhinged towards the end.
- Bittersweet Ending: More on the "sweet" end than the "bitter": Simon Saint, the Magistrate and Scarecrow are defeated and locked up, the two Poison Ivys are reunited into one being and helps calm Gotham down and seemingly reignites her relationship with Harley and the Bat-Signal shines in the night sky for the first time since the Joker War. However, Stephanie and Cass are still framed for murder and the destruction of the Clocktower with the Seer still on their trail.
- Fear State: Omega continues the Bittersweet Ending: Simon Saint has been ousted by his company and the Magistrate brand shuttered, but the company is under the watchful eye of the U.S. Government with Amanda Waller in center stage. Peacemaker-01 has escaped custody, seeking to continue his psychotic mission. Despite these setbacks, Batman realizes that Gotham continues to grow and evolve and perhaps it really doesn't need him.
- The Bus Came Back: After not being seen since the 2017 Batwoman series, Beth Kane reappears in Batman: Urban Legends #8, still struggling with her Red Alice Split Personality.
- Call to Adventure: The storyline completes Jace Fox's transformation into the next Batman as he takes to the streets of Gotham in a new Batsuit after word begins to rapidly spread of Bruce's apparent demise.
- Do Not Adjust Your Set: While impersonating Oracle, Seer hijacks every screen in Gotham to spread a massive disinformation campaign that Batman has been killed, both the air and water supply has been poisoned with Fear Toxin, and that any of the city's potential saviors regardless of their affiliation can no longer be trusted. With Gotham already in a state of mass panic, Seer's surprise maneuver has succeeded in pouring gasoline on the figurative fire.
- A Day in the Limelight: Tynion's stated one of his goals with Fear State was to do a defining Scarecrow story — something he feels the character, despite being one of the oldest Batman villains, lacks. YMMV on whether he succeeded or not.
- Evil Is Not a Toy: Batman downright says this to Simon Saint while he's destroying several of his drones. That he thought he could use the Scarecrow to instill his vision of Gotham, only to get played by Crane, who goes off the rails intending to drive the city into total terror to prove himself right in his theory about a Fear State.
- Evil vs. Evil: The Magistrate is as much of an enemy of the Batfamily and the other vigilantes as the Scarecrow, and Saint ends up desperately trying to come up with a counter for Crane's plan.
- For Want of a Nail: This storyline completely derails the story in DC Future State as Scarecrow refuses to get himself arrested and pushes the fear to higher levels, corrupting Peacekeeper-01 with a potent dose of his Fear Toxin in the process.
- Frame-Up: Seer, the Anti-Oracle, frames Cass Cain with a video of Batgirl killing people in broad daylight.
- Gone Horribly Right: Inspired by Dr. Jonathan Crane's Fear State theory, an idea that the introduction of a tremendous traumatic event could be utilized to help society evolve for the better, Simon Saint enlisted Scarecrow's help to terrorize Gotham City with the goal of making the public more susceptible to the idea of submitting to the protection of a Magistrate-led rule. But with Scarecrow now off the reservation, the meticulously planned False Flag Operation Saint had masterminded has officially derailed into a genuinely serious threat to the city.
- Grand Finale: Has accidentally become one to James Tynion IV's run on Batman in light of his announcement that he was leaving the book in favor of Substack.
- He's Back!: Multiple ones:
- Barbara Gordon returns to action as Batgirl, suiting up in a new costume based on her Burnside look but designed to protect her back due to injuries and damage sustained in The Joker War.
- Poison Ivy or at least a variant of her, returns to villainy here as well due to events of The Joker War.
- Journey to the Center of the Mind: Batman and Ghost-Maker briefly take one to remove Crane's subliminal programming from Bruce's mind.
- Literal Split Personality: There are actually two Poison Ivys running around, a good and evil version. Gardener suggests to Harley that if they can reunite the two, they can get back the old Ivy.
- Mugging the Monster: The Magistrate goons that go after Beth Kane are lucky to be alive.
- Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist: Scarecrow claims that he is trying to help Gotham by pushing it into fear and beyond to something greater, but he is really just driving the city into terror.
- Series Continuity Error:
- "Disinformation Campaign", the Batwoman story in Batman: Urban Legends, refers to Beth Kane's villainous persona as Red Alice. However, Red Alice was the name she took when she briefly fought alongside her sister in the waning issues of the New 52 Batwoman series, and was at worst an antihero. Beth was simply called Alice when she led the Religion of Crime.
- The same story depicts Beth as having blonde hair as a child, and her hair styled differently than Kate as well. All other prior appearances of the Kane twins as kids show them as identical redheads who matched their appearances well enough to pull a Twin Switch on teachers.
- Smug Snake: For all his intelligence and careful planning, Simon Saint's overconfidence in The Magistrate program he has dedicated his entire life to create, as well as underestimating both the Scarecrow and Batman, led to him losing control of the entire situation with ease.
- Unwitting Pawn: Simon Saint and Peacekeeper-01 turn out to have been this to Scarecrow, having helped put his Fear State theory into motion until he betrayed them both and took over.
- Upgrade vs. Prototype Fight: Peacekeeper-01, who serves as an upgrade, fights against Peacekeeper-X, a Super Prototype.
- Villain Forgot to Level Grind: As part of Batman's "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Scarecrow, he points out that his old foes have either doubled down and improved their gimmicks or that they realized they're in over their heads, gave up and changed for the better. Scarecrow, on the other hand, keeps doing the same shtick over and over again.
- Villainous Breakdown: Simon Saint devolves over the course of the event from wanting to just have order to wanting to kill the entire city because he believes It Is Beyond Saving, and ends up further aggravating Ivy to the point of nearly causing her to do so herself. By #117, he is a raving madman.Simon Saint: Get me back in communication with my men! We need to arrest somebody, and we need to do it now!
- The Worf Effect: Peacekeeper-X the Super Prototype of the Magistrate program, ends up being defeated and seemingly beaten to death by Mahoney despite being much more powerful on paper, just to show the madness the Scarecrow has put Mahoney through.