With a new person wearing carrying on the Batman legacy a major question around what has become of Gotham City during Future State is where in the world Bruce Wayne currently is at. The Next Batman and other Future State titles have said that Bruce Wayne is believed to be dead along with the first Batman. But we know that DC Comics wouldn’t kill off their most popular character off screen. That is where Future State: Dark Detective steps in to fill the gaps of what exactly happened to Bruce Wayne in this new timeline. What revelations are we in store for in the Future State Gotham City? Let’s find out with Future State: Dark Detective #1.
Writers: Mariko Tamaki (Future State: Dark Detective ‘Bruce Wayne Is A Dead Man’); Matthew Rosenberg (Future State: Dark Detective ‘No Future Past’)
Artists: Dan Mora (Future State: Dark Detective ‘Bruce Wayne Is A Dead Man’); Carmine Di Giandomenico (Future State: Dark Detective ‘No Future Past’)
Colorists: Jordie Bellaire (Future State: Dark Detective ‘Bruce Wayne Is A Dead Man’); Antonio Fabela (Future State: Dark Detective ‘No Future Past’)
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: In the present Bruce Wayne is shown standing behind a fence to a cemetery.
Sometime in the past Peacekeeper-01 shoots Bruce Wayne in the gut. Bruce quickly makes a run for it after being injured.
Back in the present, a woman notices someone standing beyond the cemetery’s fence. Bruce walks away before being identified.
Bruce then walks into a restaurant where the news on TV is reporting on the Magistrate investigating Batman’s death. A patron wonders who will be next to be announced to be dead after the Magistrate killed Batman and Bruce Wayne is rumored to have committed suicide after losing his fortune.
Back in the past, an injured Bruce uses the last of his fortune to convince a surgeon to patch up his gunshot wound while keeping his identity secret using a Batman cowl.
The day after Bruce was shot Peacekeeper-01 holds a press conference to announce that Batman has been killed. The media wonders who killed Batman. Peacekeeper-01 says the investigation into Batman’s death is ongoing.
In the present Bruce walks through the streets of Gotham City and finds the entire city foreign to him with all the changes. Understanding that Gotham City becoming the center of cutting edge technology has come at the price of the Magistrate controlling everything. With giant screens reporting his death Bruce runs into an alley after being overwhelmed by everything he is seeing.
Bruce comes across some thugs who are holding a guy up with a knife. Bruce steps in and starts brawling with the thugs.
Magistrate drones suddenly appear and order everyone to not move. Bruce takes off and is immediately chased by the drones. Bruce quickly changes into his Batman costume he was wearing under his clothes.
As he runs away Batman is shot in the calf. Batman powers through and continues to make a run for it, using his grapple gun to escape from the Magistrate drones.
Peacekeeper-01 watches Batman making his escape and pauses the footage to analyze it further.
In an alley, a heavily injured Batman reflects on how all of his technology has been used by the Magistrate to build their regime. Understanding this Bruce thinks how he already knows how to take the Magistrate down. End of main story.
The Good: Much like its twin brother title in Next Batman, Future State: Dark Detective #1 is pure set-up for what this series will be about. Given that all the Batman Family titles in Future State have set up a status quo where everyone believes Bruce Wayne is dead this set-up was needed. Though all this set-up did further highlight a bigger problem that has shown up in several Future State titles. Because of that the back-up story featuring Luke Fox and Grifter ends up out shining the main story featuring Bruce Wayne.
Where Mariko Tamaki excels with the main story, ‘Bruce Wayne Is A Dead Man,’ is getting over how the Magistrate have completely taken over Gotham City. There is a feeling from everything we see and hear in the background that this is not the Gotham City we are familiar with. Even with how the city is morphing into the Neo Gotham setting from Batman Beyond you get the feeling that there is something off. Whether it’s the way people act or the way the city looks now the Magistrate have created a future that definitely feels like everyone in Gotham City is living in a police state.
A big reason for that is how Peacekeeper-01 is set-up as a terrifying mercenary who is helping lead the Magistrate’s control of the city. Every time Peacekeeper-01 shows up in Future State: Dark Detective #1 his appearance is meaningful. In the three pages of this issue that he appears in we see him hunt Bruce Wayne down, then announces Batman’s death, and finally recognizes that Bruce is back in Gotham. Each time, there is a sense of importance to Peacekeeper-01 appearance that your concern for Bruce Wayne’s situation only grows further.
This helps to enhance how we are presented a Bruce Wayne who literally only has the Batman gear he is wearing underneath his clothes left. Bruce’s entire fortune and equipment is gone. And even when he gets into Batman mode it is clear that the way the Magistrate took control has left Bruce defeated. He is not at his top form leading him to make mistakes that could is not normal. Which further positions Bruce into having to more resourceful because even if the Magistrate are using all the technology he develops he now needs to work on the means to use that knowledge to take them down.
That set-up for Bruce’s plight in his war against the Magistrate made the back-up story in Future State: Dark Detective #1, ‘No Future Past,’ such a standout. Getting how far the Magistrate are going to round up all vigilantes, specifically the ones tied to Batman, through Luke Fox and Grifter’s eyes was intriguing to watch. With Luke specifically we are given a better idea of how far the Magistrate are going with their anti-vigilantee crusade. Considering that Next Batman established that Tanya Fox, Luke’s mother, is working with the Magistrate the fact her son is being targeted comes across as even more important. It shows that the Magistrate do not care if someone has a connection to their organization. If you there are even hints of someone being tied to Batman they will be taken in.
This positions Luke as one of the bigger wildcards in this whole direction the Batman Family are in during Future State. Matthew Rosenberg does a good job showing how Luke is rusty as he hasn’t been actively working as Batwing for a while by this point. Because of that he needs back-up like Grifter to help him out. Through recruiting Grifter to be his bodyguard we are given the idea that Luke has been working behind the scenes against the Magistrate. How this possibly ties into what all the other Batman Family members are doing in their own Future State stories could be something to watch out for.
Rosenberg did good job in portraying Grifter as a badass who will be a thorn to Grifter’s side if he isn’t take care of immediately. Rosenberg played well into the fact that Grifter was established to be working for the Fox Family in Batman #101 to quickly get the reader to understand that there is a history with Luke Fox before their meeting. That helped explain why Grifter would decide to help Luke out and still maintain his persona as a badass mercenary for hire.
The appearance of Huntress at the end of ‘No Future Past’ was a strong final page to end of. Through Grifter pulling out the queen card with Huntress’ image on it we are given the idea that she has become an important underground figure in Gotham City. What role Huntress is actually serving within Gotham City will be interesting to see play out in this back-up story, and possibly beyond.
As a big fan of his work over in BOOM! Studios Power Rangers work it is great to see Dan Mora working in the DC Universe. Mora’s style is such a great fit with this futuristic version of Gotham City. There are enough Neo Gotham design choices from Batman Beyond that you get a good sense of how the entire city has developed under the Magistrate’s regime. It further emphasized how Bruce Wayne came across as someone from a different time as he is part of old Gotham City. It provided greater context into how much Bruce has going against him as he now has to prepare himself to go to war against the Magistrate.
The Bad: As with other Future State comic books, the biggest problem that Future State: Dark Detective #1 ran into is not giving us a clear idea of where this series fits in the timeline. That is especially problematic since the present day and flashback scenes we get are only labeled as “Then” and “Now.” Being so lose with when things are taking place from what we see could mean that the events of Future State: Dark Detective #1 could be over the course of a few days or years.
That is not helped by how the story around Bruce Wayne and Batman’s death is built. What was particularly odd is that the public believes that Bruce just recently died. We see that with how the woman in the restaurant wonders who the third famous person would be to die to follow the “Rule of 3s” when it comes to celebrity deaths. Having the woman speak in this way makes you believe that both Batman and Bruce’s death are recent things people learned.
Which is very odd since Bruce does hide his identity very well. We see Bruce openly not wearing his hood or sporting his Matches Malone identity when out in public. Since Bruce doesn’t actively try to hide his face it gives off the idea that he has been gone for a while. But if he was only declared dead recently there is no reason for people in Gotham City not to recognize Bruce Wayne’s face. He is afterall the most famous person in Gotham City and one of the most well-known people in the world. A little stubble would not hide his face from being immediately recognized by anyone.
This is also the one knock I do have with Mora’s artwork. I wish there was some change made to how Bruce looks in the present and flashback scenes. Whether it was giving him a full beard, different haircut, or clothing style, something should’ve changed in Bruce’s design to get over the story of people believing he is dead.
Overall: Dark Detective #1 does a good job in setting the stage for what this series will be addressing when it comes to the future Gotham City in Future State. Mariko Tamaki, Dan Mora, Matthew Rosenberg, and Carmine Di Giandomenico create a Gotham City that does feel like it is being controlled in a police state way by the Magistrate’s regime. This makes what we see Bruce Wayne, Luke Fox, and Grifter go up against something that will be extremely difficult to overcome.
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