THE HALL OF WOW – March Inductees


Each month our team of writers each submits a classic or modern cover that they deem worthy of entering into the esteemed HALL OF WOW. At the end of each month, we ask our loyal followers over on our Wow Comix World Facebook page to vote on their favorite as part of our big giveaway!

See the inductees for March 2022 below!


9

The Amazing Spider-Man #75 – 1969 – Cover by John Romita

A fine reflective picture of a weary Web-Slinger. Truly iconic 

Chosen by Taz Maz


10

Silver Surfer #4 – 1969 – Cover by John Buscema and Sal Buscema

The ‘Sky-Rider of the Spaceways’ faces Thor on Buscema’s classic cover.  This depiction of a showdown on Asgard’s rainbow bridge stands as a great example of dynamic action, pose and character design.  Each instantly recognisable and very much a signature of one of the old masters.  Check out ‘How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way’ if you want to see how he worked his magic.

Chosen By Andrew Flood


11

Wonder Woman #600 – 2010 – Cover by Adam Hughes

There are no women like Adam Hughes women, and there are no covers like homage covers. Slap ’em together, and you get this stunning image. The already fantastic cover to Sensation Comics #41 is impeccably reworked by master artist Adam Hughes in a cover that no comic book fan could resist putting on display, and a fitting reward for readers of Wonder woman issue 600.

Chosen by Leo Brocklehurst


12

Unwritten#43 – 2013 – Cover by Yuko Shimizu

Could have picked any cover from this series. Shimizu drew them all and every one of them was brilliant!

Chosen by Ross Kelly


13

Tomb of Dracula #1, April 1972 – cover by Neal Adams

A cover that perfectly captures the over-the-top drama and the stunning artwork of the Bronze Age revival of horror comics, following a slight loosening of what the Comics Code would allow. Each issue of this series is a perfectly balanced blend of tense, dark atmosphere and melodramatic histrionics and this cover represents that perfectly, the helpless blonde in a classic Lugosi style Dracula’s arms with an eerie backdrop of forest, castle and moonlight. And that logo is just absolutely timeless!

Chosen by Nathan Harrison


14

Batman #496 – Cover by Kelly Jones

I’ve never been a fan of Kelly Jones’ artwork if I’m being perfectly honest. Which is why I have to give him credit for this brutal and haunting image from his Knightfall cover gallery, in which, the ghost of Jason Todd cries out for vengeance from beyond the grave. But is it a ghost or merely an expression of Batman’s guilt-ridden conscience? Pain, sorrow, guilt, justice, vengeance, anarchy, chaos: all of these things are happening here!

Chosen by Bryan Lomax


15

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: DEATH OF APOLLO #5 – 2015 – Mike Meyhew

This watercolor from Mike Meyhew is simply stunning. From a technical standpoint, it’s flawless. The color pallet, the postures, framing, and just how beautiful are those stars!

Thematically, it evokes an emotional depth in which the run itself just missed out on delivering, but given the title, any BSG fan would feel a lump in their throat seeing a scene such as this on the cover.

Chosen by LJ Marshall


16

Action Comics #393 – Oct 1970Cover by Curt Swan

It’s action, suspense, and a key question: why would a kid want to stop Supes from saving his father?

The added bonus of “How Superboy Became Superman” makes this a must-read 

Chosen By Liam Ashby


That’s it for this week! Some fine pick’s there from our review team!

Have you got any of these classic covers? Which of this week’s selections would you vote for!? Let us know in the comments! And don’t forget that you can see all of the HALL OF WOW featured covers by heading over there right now in the menu above!


Batman #119 – Review



Batman #119

“Abyss” part two! For years Batman used the darkness as a weapon, but now a new enemy turns that darkness against him! Batman must team with Batman Inc.’s mysterious new benefactor to bring the deadly Abyss into the light! Wait…who is Batman Inc.’s new benefactor?


Check out more from Bryan HERE!



Detective Comics #1048 – Review



“The Tower” part two! The mysteries of Dr. Wear begin to unfold as a new doctor named Frow joins the staff of Arkham Tower. The Bat-Family tries to figure out the best way to infiltrate the facility, but someone may have gotten the drop on them…someone not unfamiliar with psychiatric facilities…one Dr. Harleen Quinzel, better known to you dear readers as Harley Quinn! Backup: “House of Gotham” part two! A boy’s parents were killed by The Joker, and he fell through the cracks of the system. Instead of being sent to a facility that could care for him and his trauma, he was sent to Arkham Asylum! Will the villains inside eat him alive or show him how to survive in a city ruthlessly overseen by Batman??”

Check out more from Bryan HERE!



Detective Comics #1047 – Review


THE TOWER, PART ONE / HOUSE OF GOTHAM, CHAPTER ONE 

“The Tower” begins! The 12-part weekly Detective Comics event starts here. Arkham Asylum has fallen, and in its place, Arkham Tower has risen in the heart of the city, a pitch made by the mysterious Dr. Wear. Unlike the Asylum, Dr. Wear promises his methods and drug treatments will heal Gotham’s criminally inclined for good—a claim that skeptics like Deb Donovan and the Bat-Family don’t believe. There’s something wrong with the tower, with Dr. Wear’s methods—and with Batman away from Gotham City, the rest of the Bat-Family is going to find out what…but not before everything explodes. Written by critically acclaimed author Mariko Tamaki, continuing her incredible Detective Comics run, and drawn by DC Comics legend Ivan Reis

PLUS! “House of Gotham” begins! For a long time two houses have overlooked Gotham City, beckoning its broken: Wayne Manor and Arkham Asylum. In this epic 12-part backup story, writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Fernando Blanco will explore the impact that Batman and Arkham Asylum have had on the city…through the eyes of a boy whose life was changed forever by The Joker one dreadful night early in the Dark Knight’s career!’



Batman #118 – Review


Bryan has been an integral part of the review team since we started Wow Comix World, and now we have partnered up with his fantastic Youtube channel to bring you our regular Batman and Detective comics reviews! On his channel, he already produces some fascinating video essays on a range of comic and movie franchises, with a taste for horror in particular! He is also, as some of you may already know from his reviews, Bat-mad, so do make sure you check out his other videos on the channel for some excellent Gotham goodness!

Batman #118 – As Gotham celebrates surviving Fear State, Batman retreats alone into the darkness. But when he learns of a mystery involving Batman Inc., it forces the Caped Crusader to leave Gotham for a brand-new adventure! Thrills, chills, and international intrigue await!’

Watch Bryan’s review of Batman #118 below!



Justice League #68 – Review

Justice League offers two stories with marked contrast, each bringing its own strengths to the mix.  Both teams share a base of operations but their stories are pleasantly divergent in tone.

Justice League #68

Written by: Brian Michael Bendis (Justice League), Ram V (Justice League Dark)
Art: Scott Godlewski (Justice League), Sumit Kumar (J.L.D.)
Colours: Gabe Eltaeb (Justice League), Nick Filardi (Justice League Dark)
Letters: Josh Reed (Justice League), Rob Leigh (Justice League Dark)

Published by DC Comics
November 2021

Justice League #68 seems to be rolling out the red carpet for DC fans and newcomers alike with its cover from David Marquez and Alejandro Sanchez, depicting a huge gathering of heroes outside the newly rebuilt Hall of Justice.  There’s Superman offering a welcoming gesture in the foreground and, behind him, members of not only the League but also nods to JLD and other cameos besides.  Perhaps even more notably, Batman is smiling.  If that doesn’t invite you to read on, then what will? 

It’s a really warm piece of art, which depicts the aftermath of recent events in Justice League in just the right way.  Comics don’t always have to be full of drama and pathos, after all (at this point, readers of the Justice League Dark backup story will admittedly not connect the vibe of the cover to their favored content!).

As before, the issue opens with Brian Michael Bendis giving readers an ‘in case you missed it’ synopsis page, with mugshots of the prominent heroes within.  This is a nice touch for comic fans who might either be taking their first ride with Justice League or are more inclined/able to dip a toe in only every now and again.  It also helps younger readers keep track of events; a wise move, in light of the pacing of this title in recent times.  In essence, though, it levels the playing field each time and broadens the appeal.

Rejoining our heroes in the aftermath of their battle with Synmar Utopica (think alien Superman gone awry), we find them in a surprising face-off with the United Order (an intergalactic JL).  They are debating proper use and control of the Phantom Zone and, even in the wake of such a harrowing battle, tensions are mounting.  The resolution of this is interesting and gives a nice insight into Superman’s intergalactic standing.

We then move to a much-needed light relief scene involving Doctor Fate’s mild panic over John Constantine’s transgressions – both real and imagined – while he was in the Tower of Fate looking after Naomi’s parents.  These pages serve not only to amuse but also act as a further ‘catch-me-up’ for those needing it (another sign this comic is trying to include newcomers).  Meanwhile, the Justice league debrief and set about rebuilding the Hall of Justice (at least, two of them do…).


The second half of the Justice League story involves Checkmate, Green Arrow’s ‘other team’, a group tasked with covert operations/spycraft.  We join them as they watch footage of Leo Lane, aka. Daemon Rose, fight multiple Deathstroke’s.  This fight follows on from the ambush at the end of the last issue and shows some of Leo’s prowess.  The group makeup of Checkmate is interesting, with a particular highlight being The Question (a Steve Ditko creation thought widely to have influenced Alan Moore’s Rorschach).  Checkmate seems to be interested in Daemon Rose, be it as a potential threat or ally.

Hints of another shadowy group emerge, one intent on killing the Justice League.  Before more can be revealed, all hell breaks loose once again, leaving us wondering what comes next.  Until the next issue…

‘United Order’ part 5 brings the intergalactic threat storyline seemingly to a close while expanding on plot seeds planted in recent issues.  There’s now a sense that perhaps the mega threat of Synmar Utopica was in fact Bendis’ ‘magician’s assistant’; while we were watching the spectacle, hands were busy at work, building the true threat. 

Certainly, his approach to writing Justice League seems to be focused on delivering entertainment with variety, almost in the style of the Saturday morning cartoons.  We have big headline characters, with impressive action set pieces, drama, comedy, and cliff-hangers.  What new peril will the League face down next?

While the sheer volume of characters involved in his stories might seem off-putting to some, he is careful to offer some guidance for those not fully immersed in the series.  This is a commendable approach and is one that might further appeal to a younger audience too.

The writing is supported not only by some fine lettering from Josh Reed but also by a different art team this time, with Scott Godlewski and Gabe Eltaeb working hard to bring us well-defined and dynamic superheroes.  Panels are always laid out thoughtfully to enhance the narrative: wide and cinematic when suitable; closer, more intimate for dialogue.  Their art is eye-catching and atmospheric throughout and delivers some cool moments.

Speaking of cool moments, the Justice League Dark story has many.  ‘The Wrong Way Up’ opens on the catastrophic events facing John Constantine and the company as they try to both stop Merlin and save Atlantis.  Matters go from bad to worse as they tackle the many problems and distractions Merlin has left in his wake.  Ram V has written this in such a way that even with characters like Constantine, Detective Chimp and Zattana in the mix, we always have the sense that Merlin is several steps ahead of anything our heroes might fathom.

We’re given page after page of excellent reading here, with no end of superlative art depicting some seriously ‘way-out’ moments.  The closing page for this issue has some serious nightmare fuel, so be warned…

This run of Justice League Dark has been consistently superb, and all credit is due to the team working on it.  It’s clear they’re having great fun with a very cool story and the ‘back-up’ story (as they are sometimes known) stands as a wonderfully contrasting counterpart to the lead.


Verdict

Justice League offers two stories with marked contrast, each bringing its own strengths to the mix.  Both teams share a base of operations but their stories are pleasantly divergent in tone.  This issue gets bonus points for a double dose of Constantine, too. There’s something for everyone here, but I’d mention – perhaps in hushed tones – that Justice League Dark is the show-stealer.  It’s excellent. 


Review by Andy Flood 27/1/22


Tales From The Dark Multiverse: Batman: Knightfall #1 – Throwback Review

Tales of the Dark Multiverse: Batman: Knightfall #1 is part of a 10-issue series that puts a new spin on some of the biggest events in DC comics history, by looking at them from alternative realities, where all the wrong choices were made.

Writers: Scott Snyder and Kyle Higgins
Art: Javier Fernandez
Colors: Alex Guimaraes
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Released: 16/10/19
Published by DC Comics

The first single issue comic book that ever I bought, as opposed to a collected edition graphic novel or movie adaptation, was issue 19 of Batman: Shadow of the Bat. It featured a man named Jean Paul Valley, wearing a brutal looking variation of the dark knight’s costume, traipsing around like he was Batman. I was so offended by this notion that I scratched a mark across the front cover of that very comic book. Little did I know at the time, that the long running story-line (Knightfall, Knightquest and Knight’s End) of which that issue was but a fraction, would go on to become one of my all-time favourite Batman stories.

Something else I didn’t know at that time was that the man parading himself around as Batman, Jean Paul Valley, would go on to become a huge part of my life as a comic book reader (I own all 100 issues of the original Azrael comic book run and have written a rejected screenplay for an animated movie featuring the character’s origin story). So it goes without saying that anything featuring links to Knightfall, in particular Jean Paul and Azrael, peaks my interest big time!

Tales of the Dark Multiverse: Batman: Knightfall #1 is part of a 10-issue series that puts a new spin on some of the biggest events in DC comics history, by looking at them from alternative realities, where all the wrong choices were made. In the case of this particular story, Bruce Wayne’s Batman did not defeat Jean Paul Valley at the climax of Knight’s End, leaving Jean Paul to wage a religious war against crime for thirty years in Gotham. The result is catastrophic. Without his defeat at Bruce’s hands, Jean Paul’s instability has brought ruin to the city, whose people are now divided into two camps: those who worship “Saint Batman” and those who secretly yearn for someone to save them from Jean Paul’s tyrannical rule. That possible salvation comes in the shape of a man claiming to be the son of the super villain, Bane, as well as the highly skilled martial artist, Lady Shiva. As they lead an assault on Valley’s forces it becomes clear that victory may depend on one man; Bruce Wayne, or what’s left of him. But can thirty years of brokenness be overcome by the former Dark Knight?

Writers Scott Snyder and Kyle Higgins do a great job here of capturing the flavour of the Batman comics from the 90’s. If you look at where the character of Jean Paul was at the time in which this story kicks off (a slave to “the system” seeing visions of “Saint Dumas”) then it’s logical to assume that the path he might head down would be not too dissimilar to what we get here.

There is a tendency, for anyone who isn’t named Dennis O’Neil, to write Jean Paul as a religious nut-job with a psychopathic personality. Check out a recent iteration of the character depicted in the pages of Legends of the Dark Knight for a prime example. But to do so is to strip him of all the growth he achieved as a character during the years that O’Neil was writing him after the events of Knightfall. It takes him twenty steps backwards and fails to understand what O’Neil was doing with the character. But Snyder and Higgins set their story at the perfect moment in time to justify taking Jean Paul down the kind of rabbit hole that most other writers should be trying to avoid. For this reason I am able to go on the journey willingly as we see what might have been.

Snyder and Higgins focus on one of the key aspects of Jean Paul’s character that O’Neil was always trying to explore, which was the fact that, Jean Paul’s father not really having been there for him means that he has got some serious daddy issues. He looks for approval from the closest father figure he has had in his life, which is Bruce Wayne, without being emotionally equipped to function beyond what “the system” has programmed him for. And so he remains locked in an internal battle concerning his own identity. That was always the journey of the character that O’Neil played out. The question of, “who am I?” constantly hung on Jean Paul’s shoulders. We find Jean Paul here having decided who he is, and yet still seeking that approval from Bruce, which will never be forthcoming. It makes him a tragic figure rather than a mere nut-job playing at being Batman.

Another key influence for Snyder and Higgins appears to be Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns”. It’s a cliché these days to name that particular work as an influence. But it’s almost inescapable. If you look at where we find Bruce’s Batman at the start of TDKR, we are given an almost plausible journey to show how he became that particular version of the Batman. It’s clearly not the same, but with a few tweaks here and there, it very well could be. Gotham City certainly looks ripe for a mutant takeover by the time we reach the end.

Javier Fernandez does a great job on the art work. I love his design of Jean Paul’s evolved Batman costume. It looks like a variation on his famous Knightquest costume, with a bit more medieval knight vibes added in for good measure. Another gripe I have, besides different writers tackling the character, is with different artists who’ve come to draw Jean Paul’s Azrael over the years and their purposeful attempts to simplify his costume. The original Azrael costume, designed by Joe Quesada, is quite simply one of the best costume designs in comic book history. The iconic Az-Bats costume of the “Knightquest” era is also a particular standout for me. So it’s great to see Fernandez putting as much care and attention into making something that looks just as iconic.

This book made me yearn for the days where Jean Paul was a part of my life each month. He’s never been a particularly popular character, no doubt due to the threat he posed to the mantle of the bat. But maybe it’s time for a reappraisal of the impact this character has had upon the legacy of Batman. And maybe it’s time writers like Snyder and Higgins were encouraged to bring Jean Paul back into regular continuity with a monthly title all of his own again. On the strength of this, I’d say he deserves it.


Verdict –
An absolute must-read for fans of 90’s era Batman comic books. Snyder and Higgins do a great job of re-imagining the ‘Knightfall’ legacy, without betraying the roots of the original story or it’s characters.


Review by Bryan Lomax, 08/01/21

Batman #118 – Review

The team of writer Joshua Williamson and artists, Jorge Molina and Mikel Janin, kick off their 4-issue arc with ‘The Abyss Part I’.

‘The Abyss Part I: “Now it’s a Party!”’
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Art: Jorge Molina and Mikel Janin
Colours: Tomeu Morey
Letters: Clayton Cowles

Released: 07/12/21
Published by DC Comics

The team of writer Joshua Williamson and artists, Jorge Molina and Mikel Janin, kick off their 4-issue arc with ‘The Abyss Part I’. Coming off the back of Fear State, which was wrapped up last issue, the team are given the opportunity to tell a story of their own that isn’t bogged down by any crossover necessities. There isn’t even a backup story in this issue. For anyone who knows me, you can imagine how much that cheers me up! The end result is worth the cover price.

Williamson begins his story with a bit of playful fun, sending Batman off to deal with some gatecrashing robbers, at a billionaire’s fancy dress ball. It reminds us of just how sharp Batman is, always watching people, always taking note of the little things that most common people would never see. This skill comes into play at the back end of this issue too, as Batman surveys a crime scene in the aftermath of a supposed killing, involving a new villain called Abyss. We are not given much to go on with this character; just enough to create a sense of intrigue.

Williamson also does a good job of showing us what kind of man Bruce is throughout, which makes this particular issue a good place for new readers to begin their journey with the character. Seeing the interaction between him, Oracle and Nightwing, perfectly encapsulates what he is all about. Without a crisis to solve he seems lost. He has nothing to do but wait for something to kick off. You can almost sense the relief from him, as he avoids having to eat morning bagels with Dick and Barbara, while he runs off to Badhnisia to get stuck into a murder investigation.

The artwork here is simply gorgeous! Image after image, panel after panel, page after page: there’s nothing here that isn’t worthy of being cut out, framed, and hung on a wall. It’s just beautiful.

The theme of the aforementioned billionaire’s ball allows for some striking visuals. Tomeu Morey continues his work here on colouring duties, once again doing a marvelous job. A particular two page spread affords him the opportunity to go wild. I love the ways in which he lights a scene, almost like a movie’s director of photography. He is certainly one of the best in the business right now.

Batman #118 is an absolute delight! Of course, we will need to see where Williamson takes this story before a full judgment can be made, but if he continues to balance the playfulness with the intrigue, in the way that he does here, then we are in for a treat. If not, then you’ve always got some great pinup art for your wall!


Verdict –
Absolutely stunning artwork, from Jorge Molina and Mikel Janin, and a fun story that builds plenty of intrigue, from writer Joshua Williamson, really kicks off this new run in tremendous fashion!


Review by Bryan Lomax, 05/01/22

Detective Comics #1045 – Review

In the final part of writer Mariko Tamaki’s story, ‘Nakano’s Nightmare’, Mayor Nakano must put aside his differences with Batman so that the two men might destroy the parasitic virus

Detective Comics #1045

Writers: Mariko Tamaki (“Fear State: Nakano’s Nightmare Finale”) and Stephanie Phillips (“Foundations Part Two”)

Art: Dan Mora (“Fear State: Nakano’s Nightmare Finale”) and David Lapham (“Foundations Part Two”)

Colors: Jordie Bellaire (“Fear State: Nakano’s Nightmare Finale”) and Trish Mulvhill (“Foundations Part Two”)

Letters: Aditya Bidikar (“Fear State: Nakano’s Nightmare Finale”) and Rob Leigh (“Foundations Part Two”)
Released: 23/11/21
Published by DC Comics

In the final part of writer Mariko Tamaki’s story, ‘Nakano’s Nightmare’, Mayor Nakano must put aside his differences with Batman so that the two men might destroy the parasitic virus, originally unleashed by Hue Vile, which has been terrorizing Gotham. Then Stephanie Phillips delivers part two of ‘Foundations’, which sees Batman chasing down a deranged man intent on destroying any chance of rebuilding Arkham Asylum, only to be confronted with a surprise visit from a former member of his rogue’s gallery.

I’m glad to see Tamaki’s story finally being brought to its conclusion. Truth be told, this particular run feels like it has gone on a lot longer than it needed to, with a somewhat muddled direction. It started out with an interesting new villain in the shape of Vile, who was then sidelined to make way for Mr Worth, only to fizzle out here with a giant monster that is ultimately destroyed in such a way that ties it directly to a particular moment in time during the whole Fear State climax. This would all be fine, except it really does become very confusing to work out what has happened when, and why the events that have happened elsewhere in DC’s Batman comics haven’t had more of a direct impact on each other.

It’s next to impossible to see how everything that has been happening with Scarecrow, Simon Saint, Peace Keeper-01 and Miracle Molly, over in Batman, could possibly be weaved into all the story threads that have supposedly been happening at the same time over here in Detective Comics. It seems to me that Tamaki’s hands have been tied by the whole Fear State thing, and so we get a story that is fighting for its own identity, whilst being hampered by the need to tie in to the bigger picture.

Ultimately, having Nightwing show up at one particular point in the story is a big mistake, as this was Batman and Nakano’s story. It should have stayed that way. As it happens, I do like the character of Nakano, and the direction they seem to be heading with regard to his and Batman’s relationship is something that has been sorely lacking without the presence of Jim Gordon. This should begin to fill that void quite nicely. Although, yet again, I am reminded that certain information that Batman gives to Nakano surely should have been the very thing that got Bruce Wayne released from prison a considerable number of issues back. How does Nakano NOT know this already!

Despite my mixed feelings across this whole story-line, I would love to see Tamaki continue on Detective Comics now that she is free from the shackles of ‘Fear State’. Let’s see what she can do when she is allowed to remain self-contained. Also, Dan Mora’s artwork has certainly been a highlight throughout this run, so I would be more than happy to see him stick around.

With ‘Foundations’, writer Stephanie Phillips poses the question, “Is Arkham Asylum truly worth rebuilding?” After all, it can hardly be noted for it’s stellar track record in releasing flocks of cured patients back out into the world, ready to contribute to society. It’s a nice little page-turner, which has the feel of something that might have appeared within the pages of ‘Legends of the Dark Knight’, back in the nineties. As I read it though, I am struck by the thought, “what if Bruce Wayne put all the funding into a place like Arkham, making sure to hire the best mental health practitioners in the world?” Instead of dumping people like Scarecrow and Joker into Arkham, only to wait for their inevitable breakout, Bruce could use his resources to take a more active role in their recovery.


Verdict –

The end to Mariko Tamaki’s contribution to the ‘Fear State’ saga really does feel like a long time coming, perhaps ending with more of a, “meh”, than a, “hurrah”. But it sets up some enticing prospects for the future, whilst the second part of Stephanie Phillips’ ‘Foundations’ poses an interesting question, which only leads to more questions (in the best possible way).


Review by Bryan Lomax, 04/01/22

Batman #117 – Review

While Batman fights it out with Peace Keeper-01, so that Miracle Molly might stop Scarecrow from unleashing his fear bomb on Gotham, Harley attempts to reunite Queen Ivy with her better half.

Batman #117
Writer: James Tynion IV

Art: Jorge Jimenez (“Fear State Part 6”) and Becky Cloonan & Michael W. Conrad (“Batgirls part 3: Can’t Hardly Wait”)

Colours: Tomeu Morey (“Fear State Part 6”) and Sarah Stern (“Batgirls part 3: Can’t Hardly Wait”)

Letters: Clayton Cowles (“Fear State Part 6”) and Becca Carey (“Batgirls part 3: Can’t Hardly Wait”)
Released: 16/11/21
Published by DC Comics

While Batman fights it out with Peace Keeper-01, so that Miracle Molly might stop Scarecrow from unleashing his fear bomb on Gotham, Harley attempts to reunite Queen Ivy with her better half.

After many months of buildup we finally get to the conclusion of James Tynion IV’s ‘Fear State’ cross-over epic. What he brings us is a story about free will and the resulting necessity of evil. In order for men to do good, they must have the freedom to do bad. One cannot exist without the other. This is something that Batman understands. We see it in his final conversation with Miracle Molly. Yes, he deals with the worst of people on a daily basis, but the knowledge that people are free to choose between right and wrong is ultimately what gives him hope. His primary battle then is the fight to bring those who live in darkness into the light even though he himself fights this battle dressed as a figure of darkness.

This theme of free will is explored further in a more metaphysical way with Queen Ivy and her other self, a copy created by Gardner, but consisting only of Ivy’s goodness. One is hardwired for self-preservation, whatever the cost, even if that means destroying all of Gotham. The other… not so much! But when the two merge, it is only then that Ivy becomes a whole person, capable of making a moral choice. I like what Tynion is going for here but, I have to admit, I am somewhat underwhelmed by the execution. Queen Ivy should not have been so quick to merge herself with the other Ivy. She is simply told that, “Hey, it would be really cool if the two of you got back together”, to which her response is essentially, “Oh, okay then!” At this point in the story she is a ball of rage, just about ready to annihilate the city, which better illustrates the point that Tynion is trying to make. So, to have her give in so willingly is far too anticlimactic. Harley and Gardner should have had much more of a fight on their hands in convincing (or even forcing) Ivy to merge with her good self.

Speaking of anticlimactic, one of the big villains of this entire ‘Fear State’ run, Simon Saint, isn’t even taken out of play “on screen”, as it were. No doubt most of that action all takes place in some other comic book that I’m expected to rush out and buy in order to get the full story. But I don’t blame Tynion for this. I have actually read some articles attacking Tynion for what many consider to be a lackluster ending to his run but I consider such attacks to be unfair in the extreme. For one thing, I don’t consider the ending we get here to be that lackluster at all. As I’ve already pointed out, at the very least, it has something to say and specific themes to explore whilst also wrapping things up. But I also consider it unfair to blame one man for a story that he’s had to write in such a way that the multiple other titles in DC’s Batman stable can slot their way into it. Such faults are the failing of DC comics in not allowing one writer, with a singular voice, tell their story without having to worry about what is going on elsewhere.

The final battle between Batman and Peace Keeper-01 is a satisfying one. I love seeing Batman turning his utility belt into a makeshift knuckle duster to even the odds. It’s a great visual that reveals batman’s confidence and ingenuity as well as his tired desperation. Jorge Jimenez’s artwork is also pretty awesome, with Batman’s broken eye piece in his cowl allowing that one eye to peer out from behind it, reminding me of the ‘Gotham By Gaslight’ version of the dark knight. The final conversation between Batman and Miracle Molly is also a nice moment, allowing us to see a lot more light in a character known for being the dark, cave dwelling vigilante.

At the end of this issue’s backup story, ‘Batgirls Part 3: Can’t Hardly Wait’, we finally get to see the person known as The Seer. It’s a disappointingly underwhelming sight to behold, as is most of the story itself, to be perfectly honest. Steph and Cass are hidden away for a few days in a dive of a hotel and that’s it! Aside from one creepy doctored image of Babs by The Seer, the artwork still irritates me and the story itself doesn’t really go anywhere. It just side-lines two characters for the sake of some “humorous” buddy antics, that I’m sure will appeal to teenagers, but which does nothing for me personally.


Verdict –
The final chapter of ‘Fear State’ serves as an examination on free will and the necessity of evil in a world filled with good people, while the Batgirls fail to impress, in a story that sees them side-lined.

  • ‘Fear State: Part 6’ – 4/5
    ‘Batgirls Part 3: Can’t Hardly Wait’ – 2/5

    Overall score – 3/5

Review by Bryan Lomax, 08/12/21