Review: FUTURE STATE: THE NEXT BATMAN #3
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Colours: Arif Prianto, Jordie Bellaire, Gabe Eltaeb
Letters: Clayton Cowles, Steve Wands, Rob Leigh
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Future State: The Next Batman #3: The adventures of the next Batman continue! Batman has captured a pair of murderous fugitives, but he faces a tough decision: leave them for the Magistrate troops, which means certain death, or risk his life and fight his way through Gotham City to deliver them to the GCPD for trial. He’s Batman…so there’s only one choice!
And in “Outsiders,” Katana has reunited with Black Lightning, but her old friend and ally has changed…big time! Now composed of literal black lightning, Jefferson Pierce arrives with a dire warning about Duke Thomas and his mission to liberate Gotham from the oppression of the Magistrate. They’ll have to work together—and we really mean together—to have any hope of defeating the forces working against them!
Plus, in “Arkham Knights,” Astrid Arkham and her band of maniacal misfits have picked a fight with the Magistrate…and they’re not going to back down! On the eve of their mission into the heart of Gotham’s fascist occupiers, Croc, Zsasz, Phosphorus, Clayface, Harvey, and the rest steel themselves to try and shine a beacon of hope into the darkness—but not everyone will make it out alive!
In Future State: The Next Batman #3, Jace Fox has caught up with the murderers he’s been trailing. However, the situation has become a lot more complex. It turns out that the couple’s victim had murdered their daughter. Batman rejects this as justification for their crime. However, he still is unwilling to leave them to be killed out of hand by the Magistrate forces.
I like that even with the Magistrate as the clear villains, there is still a lot of moral ambiguity. In fact, the presence of an unambiguous bad guy moves a many who would normally be seen as villains into a grey area. This is especially evident in the Arkham Knights backup story, in which several of Bruce Wayne’s rogues gallery have actually become freedom fighters in this future timeline.
The Outsiders backup story concludes in this issue, resolving the conflict with Kaliber. However, it seems more like the beginning of a larger story than a conclusion. I do hope that DC has plans to revisit Future State, as this leaves me with many unanswered questions and wanting to see more of the story.
I had wondered if Black Lightning having become living lightning was a result of the increase in power in the recent Batman and the Outsiders title. This issue implies that there is more to the story. Jefferson states, “It’s a–really long story, Tatsu. Trying to do the right thing, but everything went wrong. There was some magic involved…and you heard right, there was a curse”. It sounds like there’s a very interesting story here, one that I would like very much to read.
In the Arkham Knights story, we find out what the team was hoping to accomplish with their assault on the GCPD headquarters. Surprisingly, their goal is to strike a more symbolic goal than a practical one. They reclaim a former symbol of hope for Gotham City, the Bat-Signal. And they replace the Bat-symbol with a new symbol, a sun, which they shine once again in the Gotham’s skies.
As Astrid Arkham explains “It is a beacon of hope that reminds the magistrate why the relics of Gotham are worth fighting for!…It is our light in the darkness, a signal for those in peril upon the sea of fate! It is our sun. And from this day, it will always shine on Gotham”. And how deliciously ironic is it that this message of hope should come from a group of Batman’s worst enemies?
The main drawback here is that these stories serve as only a mere taste of this future Gotham. We know that we will see some more of it in the upcoming The Next Batman miniseries. However, that series is likely to focus mainly on Jace Fox and his immediate family. Hopefully DC has plans to revisit the wider world of Future State, as there is a lot more story left to tell.
Future State: The Batman #3 brings us the penultimate chapter of the Next Batman’s debut story and concludes two of the backup stories. But while these stories have given us a fascinating taste of this Future timeline, there is still a lot of untapped potential in this future timeline. I hope DC will return to explore it in depth in the near future.