Future State The Next Batman #1
It’s a shame DC decided to spoil the identity of the Future State Next Batman. His identity is not revealed in this opening issue and writer John Ridley goes to great lengths to set up a mystery with three potential candidates for the man behind the mask.
One is Luke Fox, the former Batwing; another is his brother Tim/Jace, who recently returned to Gotham and the third is Whitaker, a former police officer and supporter of vigilantes.
Gotham is in a police state run by The Magistrate and the Peacekeepers, who have standing orders to shoot anyone wearing a mask. It makes being a vigilante in Gotham far more complicated than ever. Things are getting worse with the rise of the street gang, Bane-litos.
Ridley does an excellent job of setting the stage of this new Gotham, one that feels a lot more like the real world despite a man dressed as a bat running around.
Nick Derington provides the art for this chapter. Derington is such a fantastic storytelling artist that his style works with any character even the Dark Knight. Colorist Tamra Bonvillain avoids sticking with a dark and gloomy color palette allowing for bolder colors to shine through.
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This is another bonus book with two other side stories. Brandon Thomas writes the first one featuring Duke Thomas and Katana of The Outsiders, who are now operating out of Gotham city limits to avoid Magistrate prosecution. Sumit Kumar handles the art, which is a little rough in some panels yet overall effective with one very strong highlight being a double spread chase sequence.
The final chapter features the Knights of Arkham, a collective of several well-established Rogues led by a relatively new character. The Knights are preparing to strike back against The Magistrate and are building their numbers in preparation of the big showdown. This proved a major surprise and was one of the most compelling of all the Future State stories this week. Writer Paul Jenkins has a real sense of the group’s purpose and paired with the always exquisite art from Jack Herbert, this is a real breakout story that I’d definitely be interested in reading beyond Future State.
With three strong stories, this is the biggest must-read Future State title this week and a strong indicator this event could have some legs beyond its two-month schedule.
Rating: 10 out of 10