With John Ridley writing the main story, there’s no way I wasn’t going to read Future State: The Next Batman #1. A new Batman in a fascist Gotham written by Ridley is a combination that’s right up my alley. And even with a high bar to cover, I was not only pleased, but excited to read the next issue and wishing we were getting more than two.
In this future Gotham, a militaristic police called The Magistrate has taken over pushing the Gotham P.D. to the side. “The Bat” and masks are outlawed and hunted down. A new Batman is in town not just stopping crime but attempting to save masks from a fate at the hand of the Magistrate.
Ridley delivers such a strong opening and familiar but different take on the character. There’s a classic Batman vibe to it all going back to the basics of a man in a costume with his grappling hook and smoke. It’s theatrical in many ways and feels like a cross of the early years of the character and Batman 1989. Ridley also spins things a bit with layers on the fascism and vigilantism. Some take Batman as an extension of a rightwing agenda as far as justice but to see him rail against an overreaching government is a nice and different spin. It makes me want to see Ridley release a maxi-series further exploring the concepts touched upon here.
The art by Nick Derington is top-notch. There are so many panels and pages that evoke classic Batman with a few paying an homage to classic imagery. Derington is joined by Tamra Bonvillain on color and Clayton Cowles on colors. The combination creates a look and feel of a “classic Batman” story and some of the modern classics that use the shadows to evoke fear and excitement for what’s to come.
Future State: The Next Batman #1 is one of the expanded “Future State” issues featuring two other stories.
“Outsiders” is written by Brandon Thomas with art by Sumit Kumar, ink by Kumar and Raul Fernandez, color by Jordie Bellaire, and lettering by Steve Wands. We get to see a new crew of Outsiders as they attempt to take down The Magistrate. It’s a great extension of the world in the main story showing more of the resistance against the fascist police. There’s a lot packed into the story really setting things up and creating a world out of a dozen pages or so. It feels in a way two short stories itself but is such a strong entry that expands the world and compliments the main story. The art is fantastic as well delivering some great action.
“Arkham Knights Chapter 1 Rise” is written by Paul Jenkins with art by Jack Herbert, color by Gabe Eltaeb, and lettering by Rob Leigh. Much like the other story, this one also adds a lot to this new world. The Arkham Knights is a squad of Batman villains who have come together to take on The Magistrate. There’s a Suicide Squad vibe about it but the concept and how it’s presented is really interesting. It’s the specifics of the concept that really stand out. The art too is great with updates to classic characters.
Future State: The Next Batman #1 is a winner of a comic. I wanted to read more immediately and now I want an entire series exploring this world. There’s some great concepts here and an interesting exploration of the line between justice and fascism. Where the line is drawn is a great concept to dive in to and this comic dances around it with some fantastic writing and characters. A lot is packed into the extended issue and it’s such a welcome addition to the DC and Batman mythology.
Story: John Ridley, Brandon Thomas, Paul Jenkins Art: Nick Derington, Sumit Kumar, Jack Herbert
Ink: Sumit Kumar, Raul Fernandez Color: Tamra Bonvillain, Jordie Bellaire, Gabe Eltaeb
Letterer: Clayton Cowles, Steve Wands, Rob Leigh
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review