Red Hood has become a Peacekeeper and is already making a good living hunting down people in masks. Naturally, his new line of work brings him into conflict with the remaining members of the Bat Family, as well as the man who was taken up the mantle, Jace Fox!
The action sequence that opens this issue is easily the highlight of the issue. It’s full of kinetic energy and one weird idea after another being thrown at the reader. Joshua Williamson, Dennis Culver, and Giannis Milonogiannis make sure that most of the characters involved get at least one cool hero moment to shine, and because Batman’s sidekicks are always real smart-asses, there’s plenty of fun banter to spare. The issue also kicks off with a fantastic montage of some of pivotal moments in Jason’s life, cleverly foreshadowing the main conflict of the issue and illustrating how truly difficult it may be for him to change the way the rest of the Bat Family views him.
However, as much as I love the manga aesthetic and Milonogiannis’ artwork overall, I’m beginning to wonder if black and white might not be the best medium for this story. Some of the character designs tend to blend together for me, particularly when all of the Bat Family members are seen out of costume. It doesn’t help matters that many of these characters are given next to nothing to do, making them feel even more like window dressing. For instance, I don’t think I realized that Harper Row was in this comic until roughly two-thirds of the way through the book.
On a similar note, there’s a LOT being packed into some parts of this issue. This book lays out (or restates) huge swaths of the Future State status quo, including Tim’s newfound immortality and the true nature of Duke’s powerful sword. A lot of this was covered by previous Future State books, but I can imagine that new readers might be a bit overwhelmed by a particular scene of exposition amongst all of the former sidekicks.
Even the most hard-to-please reader would have a difficult time arguing that Future State: Gotham isn’t an ambitious comic. Not only does it pick up on a zillion threads left dangling at the end of DC’s line-wide Future State event, but it also builds onto those ideas while introducing new takes on some of Batman’s most notable supporting characters and enemies. This is all set against the backdrop of a Gotham gone wrong, and that’s a lot to juggle at once. The result is that some characters get a bit of a short hand, but the overall world-building is still quite strong.
We’re still in the early days of Future State: Gotham, so it makes sense that the first few issues would have to do some heavy lifting and a good amount of table setting. The strong characterization of Jason Todd and the weird swings it’s making with some of the Bat-mythology still makes this one worth checking out while it finds its groove.
Helping with that adjustment period is a reprint of John Ridley and Olivier Coipel’s exceptional Jace Fox story from Batman: Black & White #3. You can check out David Brooke’s review of that issue — and suffice to say that the story has lost none of its punch. In fact, it goes a long way towards enriching the character beyond what new readers see in his brief appearance in this issue.
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