Much like the worry faced by Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi, this issue posits the idea that the legacy of the Batman is hubris and failure. Much like what happened on the Batwoman TV show, a private security company has essentially supplanted law enforcement in Gotham City, establishing a new status quo that has outlawed masks and enforced with lethal finality. What room is there for a Bat-themed man with eyes towards justice and fists rough from violence under such a circumstance?
Ironically, the newest Batman is unlike many of the things we are used to. First, there's no "Bat-family," no friendly police commissioner, no endless coffers of cash to fuel planes and boats and shark repellent. Second, there is apparently no support from capes or masks from other towns (some of which are occupied, due to the events of other Future State books). Third, yeah, this Batman is Black — which makes the "one man against a fascist state" bit more plausible.
Also, ironically, the Batman is the least interesting thing in this issue, which has three-story elements based on different characters. The most interesting is the updated idea of The Outsiders, based on Gotham going back to its No Man's Landsequestering. Duke Thomas has gone all Fast and Furious. At the same time, the art from Sumit Kumar, Raul Fernandez, Jordie Bellaire, and Steve Wands shows why this team needs to get recruited for a Star Wars book immediately, with amazing shows of sword-based combat and a gorgeous sequence that's very similar to the old Shinobi game. That part, written by Brandon Thomas, is super engaging.
The biggest surprise is the rise of Astrid Arkham as the Batman we deserved, using the inmates of Arkham Asylum with much more effectiveness (and honestly, more grace and humanity) than Bruce Wayne ever had. Fighting with the hopeless for the hopeless, this Paul Jenkins script both captures the spirit of rebellion against oppression thanks to superbly depicted visuals from Jack Herbert, Gabe Altaeb, and Rob Leigh.
It may be tragic to some that between Bruce Wayne and Terry McGinnis, there's martial law and fascism, but if we must go into that not-so-good night, it will not be going gently. Let's see if the new keeper of the cowl can keep up because the kids, and the crazies, are all right. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.
Future State: The Next Batman #1
By John Ridley, Brandon Thomas, Paul Jenkins, Nick Derington, Sumit Kumar, Jackson Herbert, Ladronn
Gotham City has always been dangerous — but now, itâs 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!