Once again, DC Comics is taking a break from its regular ongoing stories in January for a two-month glance into the future of its characters. The publisher’s Future State came out of a plan from former co-publisher DAN DIDIO, who wanted to completely revamp the publishing line, replacing established heroes with new faces in the costumes.
Didio, no stranger to changing things up after leading the New 52 and Rebirth eras, probably would have gotten away with it, too, if not for that darned coronavirus. And, you know, getting removed from his position back in February.
While the plan to completely replace Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and others may have been nixed, the company is still using the concept as a two-month buffer in January and February. The first half of the Future State books were announced earlier this week, giving us our first look at the official plans for the slate of replacements.
What we see in the solicitation copy for January’s issues is another dark future for the DC Comics Universe. It is a well the company goes back to frequently – glimpses of a dystopia that is to come, a nebulous event that causes chaos and negative change to the world. It’s not too much of a surprise, as the Future State is being set up by Scott Snyder’s DARK NIGHTS DEATH METAL, which is already a dark reflection of a universe with brightly-colored heroes.
The focus of Future State is, mainly, on the future of Batman. Gotham City has been overrun by a group called the Magistrate. Masks are outlawed. And Bruce Wayne is (wrongly) believed to be dead and a new man – yet to be revealed – is carrying the mantle of the Bat. The whole slate of Batman-related Future State titles seems to be related to the Magistrate and their machinations.
The rest of January’s releases – focusing on Superman and the Justice League – paints a picture of a world where the heroes are have been pushed away. Superman is off-planet, with his son taking over as the world’s new Man of Steel. The Flashes are battling a possessed Wally West. The Green Lantern Corps are fighting to survive with a power battery that’s lost its power. The Teen Titans lost members in a cataclysmic battle.
At some point, it gets to be too much.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of potential for good stories here, but whatever story comes out of Future State is going to be lost in the commotion of how DC Comics is rolling it out. They reportedly went from one extreme – completely replacing all of the company’s heroes for an extended series of time to doing it just for two months.
There’s a happy medium in there somewhere. Back when Marvel Comics introduced the Ultimate Universe in 2000, they didn’t completely throw out its full compliment of heroes for a new reimagining. Instead, they made an imprint, offered new takes on characters side-by-side with the originals. It would have been great to see DC Comics do that here. Open up a new pathway for some original content, sell it right next to the heroes and villains that people know and love. A good story will always win out.
But what we’ll get is a two-month break from the norm and then everything will be back to what it was.
Will DC Comics take this opportunity to make some changes to creative teams as they head into the regular run of 2021? We already know Brian Bendis is leaving the Superman books after the December issues. Will he be announced as the new writer on Batman? I would love to see him get the chance to write some lower-tier characters who haven’t had books in a while. Give Green Arrow a shot. If I had to guess, though, I would be shocked if he wasn’t named as the new writer of Justice League.
Just as important – to me, anyway – is who will take the helm of the Superman books in 2021? Can they get a name to rival Brian Bendis, or will they even bother? Bendis has done a lot of great stuff on Superman and Action Comics over the last couple of years, and I hope that some of the changes he introduced stick around.
Fans of DC Comics are left with a lot of questions with the announcement of a 2-month break in the regular publishing line. It’s been almost 5 years since Rebirth did away with the New 52 and DC You eras, so we may be just about due for another soft reboot.