DC ROUND-UP: FEAR STATE suffers from a bad reading order

Comics
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THIS WEEK: Fear State nears an end with two issues that have already seen their resolution in another issue.

Note: the reviews below contain spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdicts.


Doing something a little different with this week’s column, as rather than individual reviews, I’m going to take a look at how Catwoman and Harley Quinn fit into the overall puzzle that is Fear State.

Catwoman #37

Writer: Ram V
Artists: Nina Vakeuva, Laura Braga and Geraldo Borges
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Cover: Yanick Paquette and Nathan Fairbairn

Harley Quinn #9

Writer: Stephanie Phillips
Artist and Cover: Riley Rossmo
Colorist: Ivan Plascencia
Letterer: Deron Bennett

This is something I noticed with last week’s books, as I was reading through the various Fear State books. See, I was following the official reading order that DC provided, and figured that’d be the right way to read things, as that’s how reading orders are supposed to work. But then, Batman #117 seemed to skip some of the conclusion with the team confronting Simon Saint, seemingly out of nowhere. This was a little confusing but became frustrating when I read Nightwing #86 which the reading order put after, but actually happened before Batman #117.

Fear State Reading Order

Sure, okay, some mistakes are understandable. But then it got weirder. The Batgirls backup story in Batman #117 is set before both the main story in the issue and Nightwing #86. So now you have a story at the end of an issue, that is set before the main story of the issue, and before the issue that’s set before it. This makes for a jumbled confusing mess, especially if you’re not a regular reader of these books and just trying to follow the order presented to you.

Even more frustratingly, that trend continued in this week’s books. Detective Comics #1045 has an editor’s note that it takes place alongside Batman #113, which is 27 comics ahead of it on the reading order. And both Catwoman and Harley Quinn deal with the same Poison Ivy plot point that already got resolved in Batman #117.

The thing that makes this all the more confounding is that the individual issues of the Fear State crossover are all good to great, but they’re bogged down with this sense of broken continuity, being led by a haphazard reading list with no rhyme or reason. There’s no real emotional payoff to the Ivy story in either Catwoman or Harley Quinn because we already got the payoff last week, delivered fantastically by Jorge Jiminez. Fear State is supposed to be the ultimate climax of Tynion’s tenure on Batman and to an extent, his show-running of the Bat-line, and yet the thing that had been the biggest strength of the line over the last year has suddenly become a weakness, all because things are out of order.

As I said, the individual issues are all good or even great, and there’s a lot of excellent character work and storytelling in the books, I just wish the continuity held up better. I hope things get reorganized for the inevitable collected editions.

Verdict: Buy for both


Round-Up

  • Robin continues to be an absolute blast month in and month out. This tournament arc is drawing to a close with an epic cliffhanger, and I can’t wait to see what Williamson has in store next.
  • Superman ’78 is superb in capturing the spirit of the early Reeve movies while telling a story that would have been impossible with the effects of the time. It’s done with such precision and care that I can hear the actors’ voices in my head as I read the book, and can picture the actual scenes playing out.

Miss any of our earlier reviews? Check out our full archive!

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