In Future State: Gotham, Dennis Culver, Joshua Williamson, and Giannis Milonogiannis reintroduce readers to a futuristic Gotham City that has come to distrust Batman and his partners. In an environment that is even more hostile than the Present Day Gotham we’ve come to know, Jason Todd has to find a new way to fight the good fight.
Aside from the thrilling opening action sequence, this book feels like mostly setup. Of course, since this is a first issue, that’s to be expected. However, this first issue is also in the unenviable position of trying to update readers on the status quo of Future State’s Gotham and the state of its Bat Family. The result is a lot of scenes of characters standing around and talking about things that happened in other miniseries and teasing threads that will be explored in later issues. The issue loses a bit of momentum because of that, but there are still some really intriguing ideas and fun moments to hang onto here.
The opening fight with Mecha Scarface is really fun, giving Jason a badass introduction and feeling like a bit of a callback to one of the weirder episodes of The Batman. Right away, Future State: Gotham tells us that even the familiar baddies will be exciting new visions, more dangerous and outlandish than we’ve ever seen before. This scene acts as both a fun action sequence and a bold statement of intent.
In fact, Giannis Milonogiannis’s artwork is the real standout element of this issue. I thought I’d miss the neon-soaked aesthetic of the futuristic Gotham we glimpsed in various Future State tie-ins, but the black and white style lends this story a flavor all its own. In particular, the heavy use of speed lines during the action sequences recall similar scenes in Akira and various action-oriented manga, which definitely hits a sweet spot for me as a reader.
Speaking of Akira, another cool choice for this book is the inclusion of a classic Batman: Black & White story by Akira creator Katsuhiro Otomo. This short story is an unnerving take on the many hidden facets of the Dark Knight’s psyche, and the idea that everyone in Gotham City wears one mask or another — no one is quite what they appear to be. This short piece reads almost more like a mood piece than as a coherent story on its own, but it’ll leave an impression on the reader whether they’re revisiting it or reading for the first time.
Future State: Gotham has a lot of cool ideas, but many of them feel swallowed by the sheer amount of exposition and setup. Even so, there are some really interesting story threads that are being teased here, and the final page should be especially exciting for fans of Batman’s supporting cast. Hopefully future issues will be able to really dive into this brave new world, now that the heavy lifting of introducing its status quo is out of the way.
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