REVIEW: ‘Future State: Dark Detective,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Future State: Dark Detective #1

Future State: Dark Detective #1 comes from writer Mariko Tamaki, artist Dan Mora, colorist Jordie Bellaire, and letterer Aditya Bidikar from DC Comics. This new title within the Future State lineup explores a Gotham City where Bruce Wayne is presumed to be dead, and a new technologically advanced military organization called The Magistrate has risen in Batman’s wake. This sets up an interesting premise and showcases this entire creative team as cohesive storytellers. 

Bellaire on art gives off incredibly colorful and vibrant pages.  She gives off a purely futuristic aesthetic with a staple cyber-punk color palette of neon pinks, yellows, and greens. Bellaire tastefully utilizes the compute glitching effect to add atmosphere with her coloring, and it’s a small detail that aids in adding tone.  While these coloring aspects may be a trademark of the subgenre, this still feels new to past lovers of anything Gotham-centric. 

Mora weaves interesting use of panel work to enhance both Tamaki’s writing and Bellaire’s colorwork. For instance, there is a part where Bruce is depicted in his Batman alter ego and the Magistrate. The new organization that Gotham is now utilizing to enforce law and order is standing in front of this image of him. There is a small window on the bottom right to show how Gotham City is looking at the Magistrate through a news lens, with a smaller long panel showing how people react to the information. Mora’s sense of narrative momentum through his art is what’s makes his art a joy to look at. 

Tamaki holds no punches back when it comes to having this presumed-dead Bruce Wayne ask complicated questions about his wealth, status, and influence on the high-tech police state Gotham has become in his death. Many of these ideas are surface level and straight forward, but the execution of her writing works in tandem with the art, colors, and letters that provide an effective backdrop to the start of this storyline. I am excited to see where it goes, and I fully hope Tamaki continues to deepen these intriguing questions and trails her Bruce Wayne could explore. 

For as much as I loved Future State: Dark Detective #1, there was a glaring issue with it.  On page 25, the story shifts to an entirely different creative team for a segment called  No Future Past Part 1. It comes from writer Matthew Rosenberg, illustrator Carmine di Giandomenico, colorist Antonio Fabela, and letterer Antworld Design.

The lettering of this second story makes it difficult to read. Grifter, aka Cole Cash’s vigilante name, our protagonist, has his dialogue as white text in red speech boxes. The shade of red that is used is a true read that blurs and bleeds together in a way that detracts from wanting to look at the page. To further the lettering issues, there is an instance where Lucius Fox is speaking to Cole where his speech is in a light grey text that I initially skipped until I realized that the text color was too light to make anything out. 

While being hard to read, Rosenberg doesn’t write Grifter to be interesting to read. Grifter, as opposed to being multidimensional,  is written with the stubborn, cocky superhero attitude. His help is at the cost of his attitude, and his fighting is mostly sharp words and gusto. There were some interesting ideas about the Magistrate attempting to round up all of the past caped heroes and vigilantes. For instance, the idea of a tech-military organization hunting down caped crusaders provides a perfect backdrop for an exploration of law vs. justice. However, it gets bogged down in attempting to shove Grifter as a hardcore, angsty vigilante. 

I am not sure why Future State: Dark Detective #1 wasn’t a stand-alone issue without No Future Past Part 1 because it severely detracts from how good Future State: Dark Detective #1 is. I feel deeply frustrated that this was two separate stories shoved into a $5.99 book when Tamaki’s 24-page intro into her depiction of Gotham was stellar. I wish DC would have let it stand on its own two feet because it has an intriguing premise, phenomenal color work, fun lettering, and great artwork. Whereas the second story falls flat, its characters are troupe heavy and feels like a step-down. Overall, this leaves me confused and disappointed. I want to clarify that the Future State:  Dark Detective #1 half is worthwhile and a great new entry in the Future State lineup, and I hope the next issues are standalone. 

Future State: Dark Detective #1 is available now wherever comics are sold.

 

 

Future State: Dark Detective #1
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TL;DR

I am not sure why Future State: Dark Detective #1 wasn’t a stand-alone issue without No Future Past Part 1 because it severely detracts from how good Future State: Dark Detective #1 is. I feel deeply frustrated that this was two separate stories shoved into a $5.99 book when Tamaki’s 24-page intro into her depiction of Gotham was stellar. Overall, this leaves me confused and disappointed. I want to clarify that the Future State:  Dark Detective #1 half is worthwhile and a great new entry in the Future State lineup, and I hope the next issues are standalone.