REVIEW: ‘Future State: The Next Batman,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Future State The Next Batman #1 - But Why Tho?

Future State: The Next Batman #1 is written by John Ridley, illustrated by Nick Derington, colored by Tamra Bonvillain, and lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles. It is published by DC Comics. The book also contains two backup stories. “Outsiders” is written by Brandon Thomas, penciled by Sumit Kumar, inked by Kumar and Raul Fernandez, colored by Jordie Bellaire, and lettered by Steve Wands. “Arkham Knights” is written by Paul Jenkins, illustrated by Jack Herbert, colored by Gabe Eltaeb, and lettered by Rob Leigh.

In the near future, Gotham City has become a police state, with the heavily militarized police force known as the Magistrate outlawing all vigilante activity. In the process, a new Batman has risen up following Bruce Wayne’s disappearance who has ties to the Fox family. In “Outsiders,” the Outsiders help others escape the Magistrate’s watch while dealing with several emotional and physical changes. In “Arkham Knights,” Astrid Arkham enlists Batman’s former villains—including Two-Face and Killer Croc—to battle the Magistrate’s Peacekeepers as part of her team of Arkham Knights.

The idea of a future Batman has been tackled before, with Batman Beyond the prime example. Ridley, Derington, and Bonvillain put a new spin on things with both the setting and the new Batman. This Batman has a similar skill set and gear to Bruce Wayne’s, but he feels more compassionate. He takes the masks off his opponents so they won’t be killed by the Magistrate, and offers second chances to a pair of teenagers he encounters. In the same way that Terry McGinnis approached Batman differently than Bruce Wayne, so does this Next Batman and it helps keep things fresh.

Ridley’s script also slowly builds the world, dropping hints about what led to Gotham being in its current state. From the legislation that empowers the Magistrate to the tension between Luke Fox and his estranged brother Tim, the story progresses at the perfect pace and keeps the reader hooked. There’s even a gang that is inspired by Batman’s old enemy Bane. Ridley employed a similar storytelling approach for The Other History of the DC Universe and it’s an approach that helps keep readers old and new invested.

Derington and Bonvillain deliver a fluid, neo-noir-inspired art style for the future Gotham. Fight scenes feature closeups of characters’ punches and kicks landing,  Derington comes up with a streamlined yet simple design for the Next Batman, with his cowl fully covering his face and a black-and-grey color scheme. Bonvillain utilizes reds and purples for background color, which compliments the action sequences perfectly. In keeping with the color scheme, Cowles utilizes yellow letters on a black background for the Next Batman’s inner monologue.

Of the two backup stories, I loved “Outsiders” the most. The creative team is clearly inspired by anime, in terms of character design and story influence. Katana is the prime example of this, with Thomas writing her speaking to the ghost of her husband Maseo, and Kumar giving her samurai-esque armor complete with a jet pack. Bellaire utilizes a similar color scheme to Bonvillain, using mostly blues and yellows for the backgrounds. Perhaps the best sequence in the “Outsiders” story features Katana cutting her way through a building of Magistrate troops. The two-page sequence features her running through hallways, kicking open doors, and cutting through troops in what feels like one fluid motion.

I can’t say the same about “Arkham Knights.” Though the premise is fairly sound, Jenkins’s dialogue feels stilted. I understand that he was going for the concept of medieval knights and a futuristic chivalric code, but Astrid often sounds like an overeager Renaissance Faire visitor. Herbert’s art fares far better, giving disturbing detail to Two-Face’s scarring and Doctor Phosphorus’s glowing skeleton. Eltaeb gives the Knights a red, blue, and silver color scheme which is oddly similar to the ones the Peacekeepers use, signifying a potential link between the two. What said link might be remains to be seen.

Future State: The Next Batman #1 takes its time to build up its world, with its creative team presenting a genuinely unique take on a new Dark Knight. I look forward to what the rest of the story holds, and hopefully, this isn’t the last we see of this future.

Future State: The Next Batman #1 is available wherever comics are sold and through Comixology using our affiliate link.


Future State: The Next Batman #1
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TL;DR

Future State: The Next Batman #1 takes its time to build up its world, with its creative team presenting a genuinely unique take on a new Dark Knight. I look forward to what the rest of the story holds, and hopefully, this isn’t the last we see of this future.