REVIEW: ‘Future State: Nightwing,’ Issue #1

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Future State Nightwing #1

Future State: Nightwing #1 is here. DC Comics is putting the regular series on hold, for now. Enter Future State, the first issue of two by writer Andrew Constant. He is partnered with artist Nicola Scot, colorist Ivan Plascencia and letterer Wes Abbott to deliver us a Nightwing a decade from now, in a Gotham City even worse than fans have grown accustomed to. Welcome to the world of Future State: Nightwing #1.

Several years into the future, Gotham is a pastel-lighted nightmare of order and surveillance. Law enforcement is run by a corporate entity known as the Magistrate, which has made being a masked vigilante a crime punishable by death. Magistrate keeps the people of Gotham safe, and the Batman is dead and gone. This would have been a perfect setup for Dick Grayson to retire, marry Barbara Gordon, and have some kids in Bludhaven. But that would make for a very poor action comic, so Nightwing is in the thick of things, attempting to liberate Gotham, pretty much all by himself.

His one-man war against the Magistrate opens the book, as Nightwing leaps down to save a couple in an alley beset upon by Magistrate forces. Whether they are robots or men in power armor is unclear, but the action is certainly well done. It is a bit jarring seeing metallic armor smash from Nightwing’s escrima stick, but maybe it has some weird alien or high tech properties. Nonetheless, all is not what t seems and our hero is quickly outflanked, setting up the rest of the issue. Gotham is safe. Gotham is terrible. Nightwing is quickly being backed into a corner that no amount of acrobatic derring-do can get him out of.

Future State is only two issues long. It arguably sets up a future the DC UNiverse is heading to, debatable since fans have been given this schtick before in the past. But the two issues alone seem hardly enough to whet the appetite and await however many years down the road this timeline becomes a mainstay in the regular books. Nightwing apparently has abandoned Bludhaven for Gotham again, but hear that fits since Batman is no longer around. Gotham being overrun by a quasi-military corporate body is ironic, given that that was pretty much Batman’s gig, although he was much more flashy and possessed better branding. 

The key takeaway is Dick Grayson himself. He is gritty, fatigued, frayed around the edges. It isn’t a deep-seated, anti-hero vibe, to be sure. It’s just enough to knock the humor out of him, make him a pure tactical machine. That difference made the threat of Magistrate feel more potent.

Constant found that grittier perspective for the hero and played it well. While the Magistrate is not the most imaginative villain in comics, it represents something all too familiar in real life and that gives it punch. That might sting for fans weary from 2020’s many blows, but fiction is really a means of observing reality from a sideways glance instead of dead-on, and Future State strikes the proper chord there. Dick is all on his own, worn down in a brightly lit, safer seeming city he no longer knows. It would be great to see this last longer.

Scott, Plascencia, and Abbott nailed down the new Gotham and slightly armored Nightwing from page one. Scott offers a brilliant Nightwing with an incredible range of motion, powerful and svelte at once, bounding about a Gotham that is both hospitals sterile and pre-cyberpunk hopeless. Plascencia bathes this city in pastel highlights as if the metropolis basks in a gloriously weird nightmare Easter parade as if Gotham had been resurrected from Arkham madness into this new body of mechanized desensitization, accompanied by some fun SFX lettering by Abbott. There is a lot of visual lightness here to offset the dark storyline, which makes it all the eerier and lets the issue hit close to home.

Future State: Nightwing #1 is a well-crafted introduction into what might be a ‘last vigilante standing’ tale for Nightwing. It’s worth the time and money spent, though just how this will work itself into contemporary continuity if it even will, remains to be seen.


Future State Nightwing #1
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TL;DR

Future State: Nightwing #1 is a well-crafted introduction into what might be a ‘last vigilante standing’ tale for Nightwing. It’s worth the time and money spent, though just how this will work itself into contemporary continuity if it even will, remains to be seen.