Review by Ian Keogh
DC have this odd habit of exempting certain stories from their volume to volume graphic novel continuity. Perhaps the thinking is that buyers are more likely to pick up a standalone graphic novel than a Volume 2, but this is Volume 2 in all but designation, written by Tom Taylor, continuing from Leaping Into the Light and preceding Get Grayson. However, what it does is sideline the Blüdhaven plots in favour of returning Nightwing to Gotham.
That’s because Fear State is an event in Batman’s corner of the DC universe. The Scarecrow has generated an atmosphere in Gotham where people have become scared of their own shadow, and an over-zealous administrative solution has been to permit a troop of heavily armoured police and accompanying armed drones to patrol the city. The battle becomes a race against time to destroy Oracle’s now fatally compromised systems.
After the sheer joy of Leaping Into the Light this is disappointing. Taylor manages a few nice character moments in the title story, but seems to have little appetite for a forced interruption of his own continuity to shoehorn Nightwing into Batman’s. The result is a perfunctory plot heavy on the action. It does have a bearing on Fear State, but that’s only a consolation for readers interested in the crossover.
The title story is drawn by Robbi Rodriguez whose loose, kinetic style is good for showing Nightwing and allies swinging around Gotham, workable for the action, and lacking when it comes to everything else. The far more expansive Cian Tormey and Daniel HDR both draw portions of the closing story.
That deals with Dick Grayson’s relationship with Jason Todd, seen over the opening pages seemingly making a major mistake, then flashing back to the awkward early relationship Dick and Jason had. If the revelation of a villain’s possibly a little too obvious for older readers of Batman-related titles, then the bonding scenes and a powerful personal involvement compensate. This is far more like the Taylor who wrote Leaping Into the Light, but there’s not enough to compensate for the disappointing main story. Perhaps DC knew what they were doing after all when not issuing Fear State with a volume number.