One of the many problems with Future State is the “Elseworlds” dilemma. We are given a story set in a “possible future” of the DC Universe and are asked to care about it, when we know that it will most likely be gone in 2 months and little, if anything, will ever come of it. Additionally, we get introduced to new characters and find ourselves reading about these strangers in place of the familiar characters we’d rather be reading about it. I planned to skip Future State completely, but the lack of comics on the shelf grabbing my attention forced my hand and I eventually began to try a few comics just to see if any of them weren’t so bad.
Future State: The Next Batman #1 isn’t so bad. The biggest problem is the one outlined above: this is a Batman comic without Batman. There is a guy in a Batman suit, but even he questions if he is the real Batman now, which just further cements in the reader’s mind that this isn’t really Batman. When we see who he is, teased by the story to be Luke Fox the former Batwing but previously spoiled by an overzealous PR department to be Tim Fox the… other… son of Lucious Fox, I guess… it doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence in the story. The real problem is that Tim Fox has no reason to be Batman whereas Luke spent time as a costumed crimefighter in the Bat-Family. Why did writer John Ridley go with Tim over Luke? No clues are given in this story, other than the fact Luke seems to be unreliable now, so I guess he couldn’t be the one. Real clear, isn’t it?
Future State: The Next Batman #1 isn’t all bad. The story and art has plenty of throwbacks to Batman: Year One, so at least you get the feeling that unlike some other Future State books, this team is familiar with the comic books that came before. The art by Nick Derington has a somewhat simplistic feel, but it does enough to convey the dirtiness of Gotham City and the action of the fights. The colors by Tamara Bonavillain strike a good mood and a feeling of depth that the line art often lacks. The two work well together and I hope they are together on future issues, assuming that those issues also work to invoke the early years of the modern Batman mythos.
Unfortunately, Future State: The Next Batman #1 is presented in DC Comics’ new expanded format, meaning it comes with two back-up stories to add to the page count and raise the cover price to $7.99. The lead Batman story is the new industry standard 22 page length, while each of the back-up stories are 20 pages in length with the only non-DC advertising being on the coverstock pages. Honestly, that’s a lot of story for $8.00, but if you only want the lead story and don’t care for the back-ups, you’ll feel hard done to shell out so much money.
The first back-up story features The Outsiders (Katana, The Signal, and Black Lightning) as they attempt to rescue citizens fleeing from Gotham City and take down a former ally who is now working with The Magistrate (the overlord controlling Gotham City and outlawing all superheroes). The story from Brandon Thomas is straightforward and unremarkable, but the artwork from Sumit Kumar, Raul Fernandez, and Jordie Bellaire is fun and energetic, though it can be occasionally goofy. While it might sound like I’m knocking the story and art, I easily enjoyed this entry more than the feature and found the most joy following the action as laid out by the artists. Honestly, if this was a sampler of upcoming titles, I’d most likely buy only The Outsiders and skip the other two, but as an ongoing $8 series, it wouldn’t be enough to get me to buy this title every month.
The final back-up story is about Astrid Arkham, apparently the current head of Arkham Asylum, and vigilante known as the Arkham Knight. The character has previously been established in comics as someone who has the hearts and minds of the Gotham City underworld, so she’s apparently using her talents to turn the psychologically unstable into a superhero team to fight The Magistrate. The art by Jack Herbert and Gabe Eltaeb is phenomenal and easily stands out as among the best you’ll find on comic racks today, but I just can’t find any way to connect to the story by Paul Jenkins. There’s just not enough happening here to make me care about anything going on with these characters. Additionally, all the former villains are each wearing some sort of armor that resembles that of the Knight, making characters like Humpty Dumpty (yes, a big egg-man) look absolutely ridiculous.
Future State: The Next Batman #1 is not the worst comic book in the Future State line-up, but with only one story that actually seems to succeed with the correct mixture of writer and artists, the $7.99 price tag makes it an expensive experiment. The lack of a “real” Batman in a Batman comic book is the book’s biggest fault. With no real connection to Batman, Bruce Wayne, or the 80 year mythos readers have come to expect, I can’t say that I’ll miss this “possible future” when it goes away in the coming months.
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as a man from africa who came to the united states, i will never understand why so many black men must fight for more black men to take over from the whites. there are lots of black men in media i would like to see more create their own characters instead of stealing characters to become black. i would never want my color to take over just so one can say that it is somehow fair. and now they say a black superman movie? preposterous!
I don’t really mind these alternate universe takes on characters so much when they don’t displace the main character. Back in the 1970s, I had some Justice League comic books that showed an alternate Earth-2 where Batman died and an adult Robin took his place as the main crimefighter in Gotham City. I though it was a neat idea, but part of what made it a fun idea was the fact that it was on Earth-2, not Earth-1. Regular Batman comic books were still a thing and they weren’t taking that away. It’s when they take away a character just to replace it with an alternate that it feels so lame and cheap.
I don’t really understand why they need to do silly things like this. As a girl growing up, I always liked Batman as Bruce Wayne. I didn’t want or need a Batgirl or Batwoman or Batlady or Batma’am or anything else. Is it so hard for people to understand that girls can like male characters and minorities can like white characters?
Working in comic book shops for over 3 decades, I know exactly what you mean. The problem is, people like us who understand that things were just fine as they were won’t set buildings on fire to prove that the old way was better. We’ll just stop buying comic books. The nutjobs who demands these things will cause all sorts of chaos to get these changes, but then they don’t but the stuff either – they just want to see it happen.
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