Gotham City has been the most fascinating corner of the Future State version of the DC Universe. Every Batman Family title has done a great job putting over what would happen if Gotham City was controlled authoritarian regime like the Magistrate. The way the Magistrate have challenged the entire Batman Family has been fascinating to watch play out. Bruce Wayne’s role has been interesting to watch as he was one of the key dominos to fall is what help lead to the Magistrate rise and continued stay in power. Now that he is back in Gotham City can Bruce Wayne work his way through overcoming the Magistrate control and save Gotham City? Let’s find out with Future State: Dark Detective #3.
Writers: Mariko Tamaki (Future State: Dark Detective); Matthew Rosenberg (Future State: Grifters)
Artists: Dan Mora (Future State: Dark Detective); Carmine Di Giandomenico (Future State: Grifters)
Colorists: Jordie Bellaire (Future State: Dark Detective); Antonio Fabela (Future State: Grifters)
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: Bruce Wayne investigates the murder of Carl Bennington (PLEXITECH CEO), who the Magistrate are blaming on vigilantes in the city. Bruce believes that Bennington was likely killed for the same reason the Magistrate had him “die.”
To get better prepared Bruce convinces his landlord (Noah) to install an antenna on the roof of the building.
Bruce (wearing his makeshift Batman costume) then uses the new tech googles he built to help place electro-netting all over the city to capture some of the Magistrate nano-drones. As soon as he captures and works on analyzing one of the nano-drones several surveillance drones are alerted to Bruce’s activities.
Bruce is able to evade and destroy the surveillance drones after him. One more appears from behind but is destroyed by Batman (Jace Fox).
Batman demands to know who the other person wearing the Batman cowl is. Bruce keeps his identity secret and just says he is busy. Batman tells Bruce that if he keeps this up he’ll get himself killed. Batman then warns Bruce to stay home tomorrow.
This entire conversation sounds very familiar to Bruce as it is something he would’ve said in the past.
Sometime later in his basement apartment Bruce finally hacks into the nano-drone he captured. He finds out that the Magistrate have the nano-drones everywhere in Gotham City, including inside homes and business, in order to monitor people 24/7. Bruce then discovers that twenty-six minutes before Bennington’s death several Peacekeepers where on the scene to assassinate the PLEXITECH CEO.
Thinking back to when he was targeted by Peacekeeper-01 Bruce realizes that Magistrate have targeted heads of companies that have tech they want to use so it is exclusive to them, including things Wayne Enterprise would never put into market.
Bruce overhears Hannah arguing with her dad about the satellite that Bruce convinced Noah was a signal disrupter to combat aliens. Noah yells about how he keeps hearing what he believes to be alien noises.
Hannah calls Bruce out for putting them in danger and being lazy for not actually doing anything to help as he spends all his time in the basement.
Later, Bruce goes back out on patrol to test his upgraded goggles. Bruce discovers six nano-drones in the area and when he follows them he finds out that Hannah works at the Magistrate headquarters.
Bruce has an epiphany from this and when he goes back to Noah’s place he discovers thousands of nano-drones watching them the entire time.
Bruce rushes inside and immediately destroys the Cybers he captured as he realizes the Magistrate used them to discover where he is at and now they are coming for him. End of main story.
The Good: There are a lot of parallels to the way the stories for Bruce Wayne and Jace Fox in Dark Detective and The Next Batman, respectively. What has particularly stood out in both Bruce and Jace’s respective adventures is that they are nowhere near being in a spot to stop the Magistrate. Instead we are more on a journey of how both Batmen fit into the new world order that is Gotham City. That is apparent with Future State: Dark Detective #3 as Bruce continues to be on the defensive when it comes to dealing with the Magistrate and that doesn’t look like it will change any time soon.
The lack of progress when it comes to how the Magistrate are being dealt with in the main story for Future State: Dark Detective #3 is more visible because of how much material we get from the Grifter and Huntress back-up story. The back-up story is where it feels like we are seeing all sides of this new world order for Gotham City under the Magistrate be given its best development. That is something that Dark Detective shares with its twin title in The Next Batman.
This is not a bad thing because it shows the strength of the Magistrate regime storyline that every member of the Batman Family has a role to play in Gotham City’s Future State status quo. You get the idea of how the Batman Family are really the Rebel Alliance in this war as the Magistrate go full evil Empire. You get the idea that any sort of thing they see as being against them is something the Magistrate will use their full force to shut down. Which compliments the mystery in the main story involving Bruce Wayne’s case about why the Magistrate would kill the PLEXITECH CEO.
Huntress position as Queen of Clubs in the resistance group the Batman Family have set up further show how much their resistance group has been up against. You once again get the idea that the reason the Batman Family have been able to operate their resistance group is because they’ve all used their experience and skills to survive. Which is shown with how Huntress waste no time in how she responds to the Magistrate sending troops to her hideout and figuring a way out.
The quick thinking from Huntress further explains why Luke Fox would have to go to the lengths of using his past as Batwing and ties to Grifter to help the Magistrate capture Huntress. Rosenberg does a good job at using this storyline to further drive home how ruthless the Magistrate are. At the same time, it shows that while the Fox Family may not fully agree with the Magistrate’s methods they are united in stopping the Batman Family and any other vigilante. This further makes you wonder what exactly went down for the Fox Family to so closely align with the Magistrate as there is clearly more than just Tam Fox’s relapse to this story.
With all this taking place it was good to see Grifter being given a chance to step up as his heroic instincts took over when things went completely south. It at least shows that Grifter understands right from wrong and knew that Luke’s turn would only lead to greater disaster. By giving Huntress a shot to escape Grifter gives the Batman Family a fighting chance against the Magistrate.
That fighting chance made the main story with Bruce Wayne trying to continue to work alone from the shadows even more interesting. Because as we see the main story in Future State: Dark Detective #3 we see how Bruce’s own hubris is his own worst enemy with what he is trying to do. Even though he knows he is working with limited resources Bruce still wants to present the same aura he had as Batman. But as we see with every decision he makes to combat the Magistrate it is just leading him to miss things that could lead to his actual death at the hand of Peacekeeper-01.
It’s in this aspect of Future State: Dark Detective #3 where Mariko Tamaki’s writing really shines. Because she does portray Bruce as still being able to use his skills to gain the resources needed to at least stand a chance against the Magistrate. But since he has been out of commission for a period of time Bruce doesn’t fully understand the scope in which Magistrate’s regime stretches. Establishing that makes you as the reader feel like your learning about the Magistrate alongside Bruce. At the same time, nothing about what Bruce learns comes across as convenient. It is all part of how the story is organically growing from how the Magistrate have taken over Gotham City.
Through the mystery around the assassination of the PLEXITECH CEO Tamaki further drives home how the Magistrate do not tolerate any action they deem is against their directives. It adds to how dangerous the Magistrate as a whole are as they do not hesitate in taking out people who were their partners if they see it necessary to continue their regime. This creates a greater sense of worry for not only what will happen to Bruce in the final issue of Future State: Dark Detective but also the other Batman Family members who are also fighting the Magistrate.
Tamaki also does a good job further establishing Hannah as a strong supporting character for this series. It is good to have a character that will call Bruce out on how his actions thus far haven’t helped anyone. In her own way Hannah is able to highlight how Bruce continuing to try to use his old methods to overcome the Magistrate will not work. This made the ending even better as Hannah’s words rang true with Bruce overlooking a major thing because of how narrow his focus has been up to this point.
Dan Mora once again knocks it out of the park with his artwork throughout the main story for Future State: Dark Detective #3. He creates a Gotham City that both looks futuristic still grounded in the kind of place we know Gotham City to be. The meeting between Bruce Wayne and Jace Fox’s respective Batman most stuck out in terms of its presentation. Mora got over how by this point Jace exudes an aura of intimidation as Batman that Bruce had when he operated under the cape and cowl. It helped put over how Bruce felt that same way during this chance meeting.
The Bad: Not everything about the main story in Future State: Dark Detective #3. Like with The Next Batman, it does not seem like we are any closer to how the Bruce Wayne or the Batman Family can overcome the Magistrate. Even the small bits progression on that front do more to put over the Magistrate than actually progress the story of how Gotham City will eventually be saved. Which is an odd thing to see take place in Dark Detective and all the Batman Family stories since Future State: Justice League #1 states that Batman ends up rescuing Gotham City. You never get that indication to be true in all the Batman Future State comics.
The other thing that continues to impact the story in this series is the timeline of events. Future State: Dark Detective #3 was no different. You never get a good sense of how much time passes between Bruce being hunted by Peacekeeper-01 and his reappearance. You are reminded of that once again since we get a flashback of an injured Bruce walking around Gotham City before the Magistrate’s full take over. A small thing saying the flashback took place a few years ago would go a long way to put over why Bruce seems to be so far behind the game. Without that clear indication it just seems like the events in this series, including the flashback, takes place over the course of a few days.
Which is a big reason why the meeting between Jace Fox’s Batman and Bruce Wayne’s Batman did not work as intended. Visually it was a great looking scene. But when we are just looking at what happens in the scene the animosity between Bruce and Jace doesn’t come across well. You would think Jace would question why someone would be operating under the old Batman costume in Gotham City. Which further brings up the question of when Future State: Dark Detective is taking place and why Bruce hasn’t reached out to the Batman Family resistance for help.
Overall: Both stories in Future State: Dark Detective #3 drive home how what happened to Gotham City under the Magistrate regime has been the most fascinating story in the entire Future State direction. The developments involving Grifter and Huntress continued the trend of back-up stories in Dark Detective and The Next Batman stealing the show. In stealing the show the back-up story for Future State: Dark Detective #3 helps strengthen what we see Bruce Wayne do to combat the Magistrate. So at the end of the day, it all creates a much better reading experience that makes you looking forward to what happens next.
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