Future State: The Next Batman #1 – John Ridley, Vita Ayala, Paula Sevenbergen, Writers; Laura Braga/Nick Derington, Aneke, Rob Haynes/Emanuela Lupacchino/Wade Von Grawbadger, Artists; Arif Prianto, Trish Mulvihill, John Kalisz, Colorists
Ray – 8.5/10
Ray: It’s the second issue of this four-part miniseries, but we’re switching up two of the backups. What isn’t changing, though, is the main series by John Ridley. While Laura Braga is stepping in for Nick Derington on art, the story continues as we learn more about the man behind the mask—Jace Fox. For such a monumental event as the first black Batman, it felt a bit odd that we didn’t see under the mask in the first issue—almost like this was supposed to be the beginning of a much longer run. While that changes this month, it still feels like Jace is at a distance. We don’t learn too much more about him or what estranged him from his family. He spends most of the time fending off the Peacekeepers in excellent high-octane action segments as he investigates a murder—one that takes some pretty interesting turns with a tragic twist. The Peacekeepers are even more vile than usual here, and it’s interesting seeing the link between Tanya Fox and Mayor Nanako in this world. It still feels like we’re being kept at a distance, but this is an intriguing status quo to follow.
Next up is the hotly anticipated Batgirls backup by Vita Ayala and Aneke. Set in a high-tech Magistrate prison, we find Cassandra Cain under arrest and thrown in with a collection of heroes and villains (including some high-level ones like Big Barda and Cheetah, indicating the Magistrate has gone global). There, she’s reunited with her old friend Spoiler—who has apparently gone over to the dark side. We know this is a feint because Steph has been working with Tim in other titles, but Cass doesn’t know that and there are some good emotional beats here (and StephCass fans will likely be happy, albeit it’s short of confirmation). This is essentially a superhero version of The Shawshank Redemption/The Great Escape, and it delivers in prison escape chaos, but it wouldn’t work nearly as well if it wasn’t for Ayala’s grasp on the two lead Batgirls. Can we just give them an ongoing for these characters?
Finally, it’s Paula Sevenbergen and Emanuela Lupacchino on a Gotham City Sirens tale. At least two of them—Harley is occupied elsewhere, and Selina and Ivy are currently busy chaperoning their newest member—Dee-Dee, a high-tech and sentient droid girl created by a corrupt tech genius. As they try to get this android to give them all her intel on her creator, they wind up shepherding her around town and showing her what it’s like to be human. She takes to it pretty well in a fun and chaotic story that also brings back another fan-favorite character from Catwoman’s past. Overall, this one is a bit predictable—as is the ending, which is set up early on in the story—but it has a lighter touch than most of the Future State stories. I’m still hoping that before this event is over, Harley manages to reunite with her best friend and girlfriend to deal out some punishment to the Magistrate.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.