Dr. Jonathan Crane—the Scarecrow—has caused the Bat-Family to see some of the most terrifying, unconscionable sights while under the influence of his fear gas. He’s brought the world’s strongest people to their knees while driving lesser minds clinically insane. And yet, in Batman: Fear State Alpha #1, he does something that may be more terrifying than anything else he’s accomplished in his eighty years.

He partners with Simon Saint.

The powerful, influential mind behind Gotham’s newly unleashed team of genetically enhanced law enforcers—the Peacekeepers—is a fan of Crane’s work and a believer in one of his more provocative theories about fear and cultural evolution. And with Saint’s financial backing and political influence (more than enough to get Crane out of Arkham Asylum) it appears Gotham is about to become a living test case as it enters a period of relentless trauma and horror—a “Fear State” specifically designed to push its citizens into a new phase of accomplishment.

Or those who don’t die in the process, at least.

Written by Batman writer James Tynion IV and drawn by The Last God’s Riccardo Federici, Batman: Fear State Alpha ignites a blockbuster new comic book event that will span just about all of the Bat-titles over the rest of the year. Hinted at in DC Future State, Infinite Frontier #0 and Tynion’s most recent Batman storyline “Fear State” will shape the direction of Gotham for years to come while serving as the climax to Tynion’s time writing the Dark Knight.

How could something so terrifying come to pass under Batman’s watch? It’s a good question—one that the Bat-Family will likely be asking itself. But you can get a sense by checking out our exclusive first look at this must-read new comic.

Batman: Fear State Alpha #1 by James Tynion IV, Riccardo Federici, Chris Sotomayor and Clayton Cowles is available in print and as a digital comic book on Tuesday, August 31.

Yes, you read that part right! The Scarecrow celebrates his 80th year of striking terror in Gotham this year, but he’s not the only one celebrating the big eight-oh. Head on over to the DC Community for an exclusive first look at the Aquaman 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular!