WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Batman #117, on sale now.
The Fear State has come to an end, but not in the way anyone expected. In Batman #117 by James Tynion IV, Jorge Jimenez, Tomeu Morey, Clayton Cowles after Scarecrow and Peacekeeper-01 were both apprehended, Batman was faced with an unexpected problem when Miracle Molly rewired the bomb to wipe away everyone's memories.
She believed it would change Gotham City for the better, but Batman talked her down by sharing his hope for the future with her. This is highly unexpected coming from the Dark Knight, who traditionally believes that people give into their worst instincts rather than not. But this last year has been transformative for Batman in more ways than one and it might finally shape him into a hero who symbolizes hope instead of fear.
Miracle Molly is someone who was formed by trauma and chose to leave it behind. She believes this is how she achieved her best self and wanted to share that with everyone, but she decided to hear Batman out. He explained that even though they agree that people can be weak and cowardly, it is also a sign of them being human. And in every person there is the capacity for good. For all the terrors Batman has witnessed, he genuinely believes that people, that the city, could be better than it was now. His words, and the revelation that Gotham was backing away from the edge, convinced Molly to lay down the trigger and believe in people again.
It was a resounding victory for Batman. But one that was achieved by trusting that others could rise to the occasion. That it is not just him alone in this fight. For years, Batman has tried to been a deterrent to crime, propping himself up to be everything criminals should fear when they decide to prey on the innocent, but these last few months Gotham has changed more radically than he's ever seen. The idea of Batman has become rigid and stale while the city continues to evolve. To keep up with it, Batman also had to change.
It's possible that spending time with Superman helped Batman find what he needed to keep protecting the city. Being a boogeyman in the shadows can only work for so long. When he was just getting started, that idea would work, no one knew what he was. But the city has grown up, it understands what he is now, for the most part. As a result, Batman needed a new way to defend his home. And he found it by trusting others for a change. By believing that there are people who are just as ready to stand up to evil as he is.
In the last year, Batman has lost Alfred Pennyworth, his fortune, even his ties with his own son have frayed. He's never been on more unsteady ground. And as time passed her realized he couldn't do it alone anymore. His reach and certainty were gone. But he had spent years building up a family that proved itself worthy during the Fear State. While Batman dealt with Scarecrow, they took care of the places he could not be, restoring hope to the city and to Batman.
Of course, if this marks a change in Batman's outlook on life, it's possible he could lose that dark edge. That cynicism and grit has made Batman a force to be reckoned with in the past. It's what makes him the dark knight. Without it Batman might have to rebuild his identity entirely. But if the last year has been any indication, changing with the times is not always necessarily a bad thing.
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