Future State: The Next Batman #1 review – some things never change Gotham nights

January 6, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
Comics
3.5

Summary

Future State: The Next Batman #1 provides a trilogy of short stories introducing a new Dark Knight, and a dystopian Gotham City.

3.5

Summary

Future State: The Next Batman #1 provides a trilogy of short stories introducing a new Dark Knight, and a dystopian Gotham City.

With any DC publishing initiative, you know Batman is going to be front and center of whatever is planned, so it’s no surprise, really, that Future State: The Next Batman #1 provides three stories for the price of one. All three are designed to introduce not just the new Caped Crusader but a new, even bleaker than usual version of Gotham City, now under the totalitarian control of a despot known as the Magistrate.

John Ridley and Nick Derington helm the new, titular story, which sees a new Batman – with a rather obvious connection to Lucius Fox – grappling with Gotham’s new status as a police state and various family dramas. It’s a slower-paced tale with little action, designed to introduce this dystopian, almost cyberpunk Gotham, where authorities have orders to shoot mask-wearers on-site. Fox makes for a different kind of Batman, but there’s not much of him here; sharing space with two other stories doesn’t do as much to detriment this one as you might think, but it nevertheless might have been nice to get a bit more Batman in what is ostensibly a Batman story.

The other two tales, by Brandon Thomas and Sumit Kumar in the case of the Outsiders and Paul Jenkins and Jack Herbert for a new version of the Arkham Knights, are also tasked with fulfilling largely the same scene-setting objective, although admittedly from a couple of very different angles. The Outsiders story focuses on Katana and is a bit more action-packed, with some very stylish art (inker Raul Fernandez and colorist Jordie Bellaire do excellent work). Katana’s reimagining seems to be one of Future State’s strongest redesigns, though her story is kept pretty light here.

Future State: The Next Batman #1 also lines up a colorful new assembly of Arkham Knights, led by Astrid Arkham and featuring an array of familiar, villainous faces. There’s plenty of gorgeous-looking action here too, but also a lot of storytelling potential in weaving rehabilitation into vigilantism. It’s an interesting angle for a villain team-up, uniting them not for self-serving purposes but out of necessity, and pitting them against the worse evil of totalitarianism and their own worst impulses. Promising stuff.

A new initiative is as good a time as any to stretch the legs of different kinds of formats, so an anthology is a fitting approach. And these three stories, despite differing creative teams, all feel of a piece with one another, reinforcing the same grim new reimagining of Gotham City as a nexus of militant oppression, with masked vigilantes more ostracised than ever. With easily the most expansive cast, new and old, of any of the Future State titles, this is a promising start for a new, if temporary, era of Bat-family storytelling.

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