Written by: John Ridley Art by: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Andrea Cucchi Color: José Villarrubia Letterer: Steve Wands
Before the New Teen Titans, there were the original Teen Titans. In the tumultuous 1970s, in an America that was very different than today but in many ways all too familiar, the trials and tribulations of these young heroes were witnessed by two of DC’s first Black superheroes: Karen Beecher-Duncan, better known as Bumblebee, and Mal Duncan-even if their versions of events are often at odds. And across that decade, they fought for their seats at the Titans’ table while joining the battle against injustice. The long-awaited miniseries written by Academy Award-winning screenwriter John Ridley (12 Years a Slave, Let It Fall) and beautifully illustrated by Giussepi Camuncoli and Andrea Cucchi continues to look at the mythology of the DC Universe as seen through the prism of DC Super Heroes who come from traditionally disenfranchised groups.
Written by: Vita Ayala, Paula Sevenbergen, John Ridley Art by: Aneke, Emanuela Lupacchino, Laura Braga
In this second Future State: Batman chapter, wearing a mask in Gotham City is now a crime-and when it’s compounded with murder, it can be a shoot-on-sight offense! Batman is on the trail of a murderous couple but quickly finds that all is not as it seems…and finds himself in the firing line of the Magistrate and their Peacekeepers! The gritty, street-level adventures of the new Dark Knight continue! Also in this issue, Batgirls Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown find themselves in a prison where the Magistrate throws heroes and villains alike! What no one knows, though, is that Cassandra was sent there with a mission… And in a story of the Gotham City Sirens, some girls just want to have fun-so what do you do when you find Gotham City in turmoil and overrun by Cybers? You go shopping, of course! Join Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and a new Siren on a gal’s night out. They’re on the town, looking for trouble…and finding it!
Award-winning screenwriter John Ridley’s groundbreaking take on Tim Fox as The Next Batman has been a runaway hit, receiving critical acclaim from press and fans alike, as well as second printings for the first two issues of Future State: The Next Batman!
In addition to his upcoming short story in Batman: Black and White #3 (on sale February 23), DC and Ridley have more in store to expand the growing legacy of this new Dark Knight. The Next Batman: Second Son is a new miniseries, launching weekly digital chapters beginning February 23. The first three digital chapters will be collected into the debut print issue, available at comic book stores on April 6.
Now that the world knows Tim Fox is behind the mask fighting against The Magistrate in Gotham City, what’s the truth behind his origin and his connection to the current DC Universe? Featuring art by Tony Akins, Travel Foreman, and Mark Morales this miniseries answers the questions behind Tim’s estrangement from Lucius Fox and the rest of the Fox family and his evolution from a man of mystery to Gotham’s newest guardian.
On June 29, experience all of Ridley’s trailblazing work returning Tim Fox to comics in theBatman by John Ridley Deluxe Edition. This 128-page must-have hardcover collection is led by an original story by Ridley, with art by Dustin Nguyen and collects Future State: The Next Batman issues #1-#4, in addition to stories from Batman: Black and White and “Family Ties,” from Batman: The Joker War Zone #1.
For a DC Comics first, the publisher’s first black Batman as part of its official cannon and multiverse, Future State: The Next Batman #1 is somewhat underwhelming. That’s not to say it’s a bad comic, but given its short runtime and the fact this was to be a momentous occasion, this first entry of the miniseries set within the world of Future State is not the statement on the future of DC I thought it would be.
But these observations largely concern the new Batman’s character development and plot progression domains. I believe writer John Ridley could’ve gone for a more explosive opening rather than the more subdued and slow-paced intro he settled for.
Fortunately, Future State: The Next Batman #1 is very much a two-sided coin, with the other side belonging to Nick Derington’s kinetic and vibrant illustrations and Tamra Bonvillain’s pop-like colors. What this team achieved with their share of the storytelling goes above and beyond what the words accomplished, giving us a new and truly different take on Gotham City.
Future State is presented as a dystopian version of the DCU in which a private police force called The Magistrate is cracking down on masks in the name of law and order. As such, this short jump into the future feels more science fiction than the usual superhero comic. There are traces of cyberpunk and classic police state imagery coursing through the majority of the Future State stories. Derington and Bonvillain take full advantage of this to give a masterclass on worldbuilding through their version of Gotham while still honoring the city’s past iterations.
In a surprise twist on the traditional Batman formula, Derington and Bonvillain decide to bathe Gotham in colors. Whereas artists such as Greg Capullo, J.H. Williams III, Frank Miller, and Jim Lee have gone for more of a modern gothic look for their Gothams (all unique in their own way), Derington and Bonvillain aim at altering the city’s very identity with more lights, which means less shadows to hide in.
Whereas the artists gave us a city defined by dark alleyways and towering symbols of moral corruption, Derington and Bonvillain opted for a Gotham that’s wide awake and somewhat paranoid. It’s hard to escape the sensation that Batman is being watched from all sides and that Gotham is playing against the hero’s strengths. As consequence, Future State Gotham becomes a living trap that forces Batman to do his bidding while being completely exposed to the police force that patrols the city.
Bonvillain’s colors excel at creating this effect. Even when in an alley, nothing is entirely drenched black. There’s a light source in every panel, as if a spotlight were always trained on Batman. It creates a sense of inevitable surveillance and raises the stakes in each action sequence because of it.
Derington’s line work is full of movement and fluidity, taking a step away from the brooding and inky settings Gotham is known for. For a dystopian version of iconic city, the comic prefers to keep things from looking too futuristic. In fact, it’s in the Magistrate’s security officers and gadgets that The Next Batman finds its science fiction elements. Batman’s mouth covering does give the character a semi-futuristic look and sets him apart from the previous Batman, but Derington and Ridley put him in a future in which architectural and technological change has come slowly.
Despite that, the comic emits an almost neon glow that remind readers that the new Gotham is no longer the hunting ground of Bruce Wayne’s Batman. It seems to demand a new Batman take to patroling its streets. It adds to the comic’s sense of discovery and strangeness. This Gotham doesn’t belong to the New Batman yet. It has to be tamed. As a result, this turns the caped crusader into a candidate for the title of city protector. As of yet, he’s merely in the running for the position.
Fans of Batman Universe, written by Brian Michael Bendis, will have a lot to look forward to in Future State: The Next Batman series as well given Derington’s already impressive interpretation of Batman and his world in that book. In Batman Universe, colored by Dave Stewart, Derington goes for a more Brave and the Bold vibe that highlights Batman’s visual versatility. He gets to play with more fantasy elements here than in Next Batman, but the sense that he’s talented enough to make Batman his own is already present there.
The visual quality of Future State: The Next Batman #1 guides Batman’s character development down less conventional paths. That the city is so new as well means we as readers are also testing this Batman out. He has to win our hearts and our hard-earned money come new comics Wednesday. So far, Derington and Bonvillain are making a strong case for it on visuals alone.
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
Written by: Ken Kristensen, Brandon Thomas, Paul Jenkins, John Ridley Art by: Sumit Kumar, Nick Derington, Jack Herbert
Gotham City has always been dangerous-but now, it’s downright deadly! Following the tragedy of “A-Day,” the mayor allowed the private law enforcement group known as the Magistrate to take over policing so-called mask crime-and that has given rise to a new Dark Knight! What is this mysterious crime fighter’s connection to former Batman weaponeer Lucius Fox? The fight for justice has never been this dangerous! Then, in an new tale of the Outsiders, everything in Gotham City may be under the thumb of the Magistrate-but even members of that totalitarian force know that the outskirts of town are protected by the sword of Katana! Plus, ride with the Arkham Knights on their quest for freedom. Arkham Asylum has been decommissioned, and the Magistrate rules the land with an iron fist and zero tolerance. Now it’s time for the lunatics to take back their town! Follow Croc, Two-Face, Phosphorus, Zsasz, Clayface, and Astrid Arkham as the Arkham Knights raise holy hell on the occupiers of Gotham!
In the spirit of DC’s iconic Eisner Award-winning Batman: Black & White anthology series, DC has announced Superman: Red & Blue, a new six-issue DC comic book mini-series presenting fresh new visions of the Man of Steel, featuring an incredible slate of comics’ most exciting and innovative storytellers creating comics pared back to Superman’s two signature colors of red and blue (magenta and cyan for the color nerds)!
Around the world, everyone knows that when they see a red and blue streak in the sky, it’s not a bird…it’s not a plane…it’s Superman!
To start things off in March’s Superman: Red & Blue #1, Academy Award-winning writer of DC Future State: The Next BatmanJohn Ridley joins artist Clayton Henry to tell a story of Clark Kent as he confronts a villain who still haunts him, in a story that shows what Superman can mean to a whole country. Then, Brandon Easton and Steve Lieber take readers to the streets of Metropolis to show how one hero can mean so much to an individual in pain.
Plus, writer/artist Wes Craig tells a tale of Superman’s early days and the man who inspired him to become the hero he is today! And Marguerite Bennett and artist Jill Thompson give us a tale of teenage Clark Kent, while Dan Watters and Dani, the team behind Coffin Bound, bring an outlandish fable about what happens when all colors are stolen!
Superman: Red & Blue #1 (of 6),featuring 40 pages of stories by Marguerite Bennett, Wes Craig, Dani, Brandon Easton, Clayton Henry, Steve Lieber, John Ridley, Jill Thompson and Dan Watters, retails at $5.99 with a cover by Gary Frank and variant covers by Lee Bermejo and Yoshitaka Amano. Superman: Red & Blue will ship monthly beginning on March 9 in DC’s Prestige Format binding.
Even before the announcement of DC Future State and Future State: The Next Batman, by John Ridley, Nick Derington, and Laura Braga, the news that a person of color could be the next to don the cape and cowl as Gotham City’s protector created excitement and speculation as to how that person would be.
Today, the speculation finally ends with the reveal of this surprise variant cover to issue #2 of the four-issue January/February miniseries. Featuring striking art by Doug Braithwaite and Diego Rodriguez, Gotham’s defender in this dystopian future is revealed as Tim (Jace) Fox, estranged son of Lucius Fox and brother to the former Batwing Luke Fox.
Tim Fox’s first comic book appearance was in Batman #313, April 10, 1979. The character has since been teased in the current Batman line, first as a mention in “Family Ties,” the John Ridley/Olivier Coipel story from September’s Batman: The Joker War Zone anthology. In October’s Batman #101, he also shows up in a conversation between Batman and Lucius Fox, who has since acquired the Wayne fortune and technology as a result of The Joker War.
On February 23, 2021. Ridley and Coipel reunite to tell another story of The Next Batman and give him a sidekick as part of DC’s Batman: Black & White anthology series.
Future State: The Next Batman debuts in comic book stores and participating digital platforms on Tuesday, January 5, 2021, with new issues available every other week (issue #2 on January 26, issue #3 on February 2, and issue #4 on February 16). Each 64-page oversized issue includes backup stories of other Gotham City heroes and villains taking on the oppressive rule of The Magistrate and its war on vigilantes:
Future State: Arkham Knights, by Paul Jenkins and Jack Herbert (issues #1 and #3)
Future State: Outsiders, by Brandon Thomas and Sumit Kumar (issues #1 and #3)
Future State: Batgirls, by Vita Ayala and Aneke (issues #2 and #4)
Future State: Gotham City Sirens, by Paula Sevenbergen and Emanuela Lupacchino (issues #2 and #4)
I had high expectations for John Ridley‘s The Other History of the DC Universe. But, I didn’t expect The Other History of the DC Universe #1 to crush those expectations so much. It’s that good and well worth the wait. Ridley is a producer and writer who has been behind such amazing productions as 12 Years a Slave and American Crime. The latter one being some of the best television in the last decade. And in this debut, Ridley does in one issue what others haven’t achieved in an entire run.
The Other History of the DC Universe #1 kicks off a new miniseries that explores the history of the DC Universe from the perspective of characters from disenfranchised groups. This isn’t the white-washed history written by winners, instead, it’s a brutal and honest take from perspectives we don’t get to often read and see.
The debut issue follows the story of Jefferson Pierce, the man who will one day become Black Lightning. Taking place between 1972 and 1995, we see Pierce’s growth from a young man to star athlete to teacher to hero. It shows us both the good and the bad in a condensed take on the character’s history. We get highs, lows, victories, and tragedies, all in one issue.
Ridley’s delivery is amazing. There’s a poetic flow to his narrative which forgoes traditional dialogue and instead pages are packed with Pierce’s thoughts. The issue feels more like a novel with amazing visuals than a traditional comic. This is more of a diary confession. Taken through the years we get a sense of how events impact Pierce and his decisions on each step of his journey. There’s good and bad as we see how those decisions both succeed and fail. It’s an honest assessment of the character and we can see his growth and failures as a person. In one comic Ridley gives us a fully fleshed out character full of flaws and an understandable perspective.
Through Pierce, Ridley explores the rise of DC’s superheroes including Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman, and their impact on the world. It’s a brutal and honest take highlighting the focus on global threats but ignoring everyday suffering. Any of these heroes could potentially reshape so much of the social injustice but they choose not to. They stay out of the day to day struggles and slip into their roles as Gods protecting mankind. Black Lightning and Pierce are the antitheses of that, shaping children at the school level and then shaping the community in a battle against street crime. He also sees it as white heroes ignoring those of a different skin color. The trio, Green Arrow, the Flash, with the only person not quite fitting that being Martian Manhunter. Ridley explores, through Black Lightning, that these heroes didn’t dare cross into his territory to help, only to scold him.
Ridley is boosted by the jaw-dropping layouts and art. Giuseppe Camuncoli handles the layouts with Andrea Cucchi‘s finishes and the result is amazing. The pages are unreal in style, perspective, and use of panel. The line art itself captures the look of DC Comics during the time. The duo are helped by José Villarubia‘s colors which again echo the style of the 70s and 80s. This is a love letter when it comes to the classic art style of DC Comics from Neal Adams to Denny O’Neil with a little Frank Miller thrown in as well. Everything comes together visually for a treat and one of the best looking issues this year.
Steve Wands‘ lettering too just adds so much. When I mentioned there was a lot of text, I wasn’t joking. Pages are near prose level and Wands makes it flow packing in so much into each page. The skill to pull that off and not impact the imagery is at master level. What’s more impressive is the lettering at times looks like it was worked into the art, spaces purposely left to fill in with Ridley’s prose.
The Other History of the DC Universe #1 is a triumph of a comic. Though it’s main character has amazing powers, in the end it’s the man that truly matters. We see his impact, both good and bad, in the streets fighting and his role in the school guiding. Ridley shows us the fallout, the bodies piled up, the marriage shattered. He gives us a realistic and honest take on the superhero. And he does all of this in one issue.
Story: John Ridley Layouts: Giuseppe Camuncoli Finishes: Andrea Cucchi Color: José Villarubia Letterer: Steve Wands Story: 9.0 Art: 10 Overall: 9.75 Recommendation: Buy
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
On November 24, John Ridley, Giuseppe Cammuncoli, Andrea Cucchi, and Jose Villarubia provide comic book fans with a new and provocative perspective on the World’s Greatest Super Heroes with the launch of The Other History of the DC Universe, a five-issue bi-monthly (every other month) miniseries that presents major events from throughout DC’s history through the eyes of its heroes of color – Black Lightning, Mal and Karen Duncan, Renee Montoya, Katana and Thunder (Anissa Pierce).
This never-before-told story features breathtaking cover art by series artist Cammuncoli in collaboration with painter Marco Matarazzo, and DC superstar artist Jamal Campbell. DC has revealed two new covers for this groundbreaking series:
On sale January 26, 2021, Book Two spotlights Mal Duncan and his wife, Karen Beecher-Duncan, also known as Bumblebee. One recently revealed cover for Book Two shows Mal in his costumed identity as The Guardian, while this companion “alternate” cover shows the couple with Mal in his earlier identity as the Teen Titans’ hero, The Herald.
Also, in celebration of Local Comic Shop Day (Wednesday, November 25, 2020), DC has produced the exclusive The Other History of the DC Universe #1 Local Comic Shop Day Edition, featuring a silver metallic ink version of the cover to Book One by Jamal Campbell. Check with your local retailer for more details pre-ordering this fantastic cover.