NOTE: This article contains SPOILERS for Green Lanterns #16
It would make sense for comic book newcomers to assume that Batman and Green Lantern stand as heroic opposites, or at least rivals: one who wields fear as a weapon against the unjust, and the other more capable of overcoming fear than any soul in the galaxy. But over the years, these two Justice League heroes have seen their mythologies overlap several times. As a master of fear and possessing incredible discipline and willpower, Bruce Wayne has been able to wear the Green Lantern ring himself. But as a tormenter and nightmarish idea, he’s also sported a Yellow Lantern ring as a potential servant of Sinestro.
The post-Rebirth DC Universe has something else in mind to bring Batman alongside the new Green Lanterns, Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz. In Issue #16, Earth’s new Lanterns find themselves summoned to Gotham City by the Batman himself. It isn’t their rings he requires so much as their experience dealing with the cosmic energies of galactic Lanterns. In a story titled “Darkest Knights” (bonus points to writer Sam Humphries and his team for that one), a wave of crime has struck Gotham. But unlike the antics Bruce usually deals with… this one seems to be fueled by a Sinestro Corps stowaway.
Batman Calls in Some Lantern Back-up
Earth has already dealt with the wrath of otherworldly Power Rings in Humphries’ run on Green Lanterns, with the Red Lanterns looking to make the planet their new base of hatred and anger. But where that resulted in easily detectable waves of anger, and mass hysteria and violence, something else is at work in Gotham. When the Lanterns arrive on the scene, they discover Batman engaged in a frantic fight with an everyday Gothamite. The reason for the man’s desperation to kill Batman is, it seems, based in fear. Not the kind of fear that would make sense, either. The kind that would convince someone that killing Batman is the only way to stop the fear – regardless of his odds.
Both Batman and Police Commissioner Jim Gordon debrief Simon and Jessica, explaining that this bout of homicidal fear isn’t an isolated incident. What began as random cases of people suddenly doing horrible things fueled by terrified panic has escalated, with dozens across the city simultaneously losing their minds, without rhyme or reason. But Batman is a detective, first and foremost, which means he’s discovered a common link between these mysterious “crimes of fear.” Unfortunately for him, the connection is that all victims act out of a fear of Batman.
Oblivious to the art of detectione, or simply believing that the simplest answer is the right one, Simon asserts his theory that this is a Scarecrow case, plain and simple (he found a new way to deliver fear toxin randomly, why not?). After Batman and Gordon confirm to the Lanterns that they have, in fact, considered the groundbreaking theory that Scarecrow is behind the fear attacks, they head to the Batcave, where Jessica develops a theory that the fear may be delivered digitally, through new online videos promoting Batman as a threat to the public. But it’s not the only surprise headed their way.
Fear Takes Hold… of Alfred
Simon and Jessica’s rings fire off emergency warnings in response to one such “Bad Batman” viral video, analyzing the yellow light being emitted along with it – the yellow light of fear (chalk another one up for the Batman). But when the videos are analyzed in the Batcave, theories and speculation become moot, given Alfred’s reaction. It isn’t clear if Alfred was watching the video, or the energy being transmitted through it worked by simply entering a space, but the shimmer of yellow in his eyes is all the evidence readers need.
Before anyone can react, Alfred knocks Simon off of his feet. The blows are absorbed, but Simon is in a bit of a bind, since he refuses to use his ring against Batman’s clearly-emotionally-compromised butler. All of that changes when Alfred gets hold of Simon’s controversial sidearm, placing the pistol against his head and demanding that he be allowed to kill the Batman. The rings may be barking warnings of unknown “aberrations in the emotional spectrum,” but are left considering their options opposite a fuming Alfred.
As for the source of this Sinestro Corps energy? Well, it turns out Batman was right about the culprit… but so was Simon.
The Sinestro Corps’ Newest Member?
Here is where things get a bit mysterious, or at least as open-ended as they are revealing. The action moves to a sea of cubicles in a dilapidated office space in Gotham’s industrial quarter, each containing a computer and a citizen viewing its screens in abject terror, convinced that they must kill Batman. As these recruits observe such “Bad Batman” videos as Simon and Jessica watched earlier, an unseen mastermind crackles yellow electricity from his fingers to the computer network, sprawling across the computer screens and imbuing the videos with the Sinestro-fied signal. The mastermind’s name? Scarecrow.
It’s difficult to know just how much deduction of speculation should be done at this point, considering the debut of Scarecrow is the issue’s cliffhanger ending. There is no Sinestro Corps ring visible on Scarecrow’s fingers, and over in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, all of the Sinestro Corps is believed to be accounted for (now either dead, or working with the Green Lanterns to safeguard the galaxy). All we know for certain is that Batman has called the right support team to tackle this dual threat… assuming that Alfred can be saved from his terror.
Green Lanterns #16 is available now.