The deeper we get into DC Comics’ two-month FUTURE STATE experiment, the more I’m enjoying it! I can’t believe I’m actually saying that, but after a very slow start, the pieces are starting to fit together nicely.
I think this would have been an easier narrative to get into if DC Comics had provided a clearer guide to how each book fits into the timeline. After a couple of decades of reading comics, though, I have enough experience to kind of fit it all together on my own. Now that everything is falling into place a bit more, the stories are making more sense and my enjoyment level is definitely rising.
The one-two punch of the second issue of John Ridley’s Next Batman and the first issue of Nightwing from Andrew Constant is as good a primer as any on the world of Future Gotham City. We’ve moved away from the stark realization of how bad the coming years will be for the city and how overwhelming that introduction has been and starting to get down to more of the world-building, which is much more interesting.
The Magistrate are still the big bads in Gotham City, hunting down the masked vigilantes to “clean up the city.” And they have the former heroes on the run. The new Batman, especially, is finding how difficult the job can be without the resources of a billionaire industrialist playboy, or whatever the hell Bruce Wayne is now.
We also – finally – get the visual confirmation that the new Batman is Jace Fox, son of Lucius Fox and brother of Luke. The reveal is not treated like a big event, with Jace taking off the mask as he’s hiding out from the Magistrate’s Peacekeepers. After reading this, it’s pretty clear why DC Comics just announced his identity after making it such a mystery at first. The second of four planned issues of The Next Batman treats it just like a regular panel in an ongoing.
And that’s fine; it worked in the context of the story being told. The world of Gotham City is expanding nicely, especially with the back-up stories in this issue. One feature had Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain – the two Batgirls that came after Barbara Gordon – working an angle to find someone deep inside the prison they’re in. The other back-up feature had Catwoman and Poison Ivy hanging out with a lifelike droid in another attempt to take down the Magistrate.
Gotham’s new overlords are the main villains in Nightwing as well, chasing down the leader of the city’s resistance. Nightwing has holed himself up in Arkham Asylum, after the still-undefined A-Day, as he coordinates with the other masks in his network. He finally decides on a confrontation with the Peacekeepers and allows them to follow him to Arkham.
But he’s not alone in the former home for the criminally insane.
The Next Batman has also tracked him down, hoping for some help on a case. After Nightwing captures and questions him, finally deciding he’s on the up-and-up, the two agree to work together.
Maybe I’m finally getting used to the world of Future State, but it’s starting to feel like the narrative is becoming more cohesive and enjoyable. Unlike the first two weeks, which mostly felt like a chore, the third week is much better so far. With these two books, combined with SUPERMAN: WORLDS OF WAR, it’s been a pretty good week for Future State.