Before Fear State, one of Batman’s most famous villains lit the fuse that destroyed Gotham City, but he didn’t do it intentionally.
WARNING: The following article contains spoilers from “Outsiders: The Fearful – Part One” in Batman: Urban Legends #8 on sale now from DC Comics.
The “Fear State” is in full swing in Gotham City, but Future State already indicated that the city would survive the calamity. However, DC just revealed that things get even worse for Gotham a little further down the timeline, thanks to the Scarecrow. But in an ironic twist, the Scarecrow wasn’t actually trying to destroy Gotham in the long run. Thirty years after Future State, Gotham was reduced to an apocalyptic wasteland populated by people who had been corrupted into monsters by an individual known as the Fearful.
The Signal, Duke Thomas, sent Black Lightning back in time to warn the Outsiders of the coming danger in “Outsiders: The Fearful – Part One” in Batman: Urban Legends #8 by Brandon Thomas, Cian Tormey, Raul Fernandez, Alejandro Sanchez and Steve Wands. But despite how angry he was at the Fearful, Black Lightning acknowledged that what happened wasn’t entirely his fault. The Fearful was born under the name Jonah Winfield and he was just an average person. He grew up happily enough and managed to get a scholarship to an out-of-state university. Unfortunately, Jonah’s bright future was cut short by signing up for a class taught by Jonathan Crane.
Even years before he became Scarecrow, he was still a public danger, especially to those who became part of his experiments. Jonah participated in Crane’s “final exam” which traumatized Jonah with an especially powerful dose of early fear toxin. Jonah would spend years recovering from the psychological damage after that. But when he finally felt ready, Jonah returned to Gotham to face his demons and hopefully completely heal from his past trauma. But by random chance, the exact opposite happened.
Through the unlikeliest circumstances, Jonah ended up at the center of another Scarecrow attack, exposed to a more potent form of fear toxin. However, this time was different. Due to the way the refined fear toxin mingled with the trace amounts of the original toxin in Jonah’s body, Jonah’s body began to secrete fear toxin as a pheromone, releasing it into the air and terrifying anyone who came near him.
Whatever events happened after that either pushed Jonah to become a villain or just an unwilling destroyer. Left unchecked, Jonah’s reach clearly grew until it consumed the future Gotham, transforming its citizens into the fearful zombies they were before Black Lightning was sent hurtling into the past. Jonah might not be to blame for his circumstances, but clearly, he becomes something horrible.
Ironically, the Scarecrow finally destroyed Gotham through fear — but not in the way he expected. Everything he’s doing right now is meant to push Gotham to greater heights in his point of view. He’s pushed the city to its breaking point and is content to sit back and watch the chaos unfold. But everything he has done is done in the delusion that the city would survive. Jonah is an unexpected variable, a one-in-a-million chance thing that happened right under his nose.
Scarecrow unknowingly created a doomsday weapon that is wandering the streets and infecting anyone unfortunate enough to come near him. And if something isn’t done soon, Gotham wmay be locked into a perpetual fear state.
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