Future State: Nightwing #2 is a classic case of falling under the weight of too much ambition. A lot of stuff happens but without any true rhyme or reason. Themes are spit out by various characters without any pretense of character development, wit, or true insight. Worst of all, I can’t say that Andrew Constant’s script makes Nightwing the star of his own book. As the stakes of the book grow unwieldy, so does the character count, leaving Nightwing without much room for growth or personality.

I like the set up of this issue. There’s a few clever moments dealing with how the media has been bought out and puts out propaganda laden broadcasts. Our new Batman puts it plainly, calling them a “fascist tv network”, which immediately puts me on notice. Constant’s script is clearly trying to make a point, I just wish that point had more time dedicated to it. The dialogue is incredibly clunky at times, especially when characters sound like they’re parroting political talking points rather than staying in the moment. I’m not the type to begrudge politics in a comic book, in fact I embrace it, but it needs to be woven better into the plot or the drama, rather than relying on talking heads. There’s a scene where Nightwing tells Batman his plan to essentially be a martyr to buy Batman time to escape. Gotham, after all, will always need Batman. However, Nightwing is very easily convinced to team up with Batman after a very short speech. This feels like fake drama. An obstacle is introduced, then almost immediately solved. If Constant wanted Nightwing to be on a death march, this should’ve been the cliffhanger of last month’s issue to give the illusion of tension.

Credit: Nicola Scott, Ivan Plascencia, Wes Abbott

Nicola Scott’s art also doesn’t carry its weight. I love Scott’s art, but I think they’re the wrong choice for Nightwing. The action is clunky and stiff, when it should be graceful and full of movement. The facial acting is largely lifeless and it doesn’t help that Batman’s new mask covers his mouth. There’s also a few strange choices that seem minor, but stuck out as distracting. One of the main ones is when Nightwing and Batman argue in front of a reflective wall. On the close ups the reflection is so near to their actual faces it makes it look like we’re seeing double, like watching a 3D movie without glasses. Even a splash page where Dick twirls a baton in his hands struggles to create the intended effect. It looks like Dick’s baton has a force field (or a bubble) around it, instead of depicting movement. There’s also a shaky moment where Dick and Batman leap upon a group of Magistrate soldiers, which should be a great action beat. However, the guard who’s about to be pounced on has his dialogue cut off, like he’s already been punched. As it stands, it just looks like he stops talking for no reason. I hate saying this, but these feel like amateur mistakes, which Scott definitely is not. Only the end fight fully works, where Dick gets more room to maneuver. 

Credit: Nicola Scott, Ivan Plascencia, Wes Abbott

While the art has its questionable moments, the real problem is with Constant’s script. The dialogue is troubling. I had to re-read multiple lines over and over again to understand what they’re trying to say. A guard, before being ambushed, tells his comrades that “[Batman and Nightwing] want us looking the wrong way”. After Batman beats them up he says they’re “Looking the wrong way at things while doing things that are worse than wrong.” That’s a tongue twister. After some action, Nightwing and Batman continue their conversation about Gotham needing Batman, to which Batman concludes “its heroes need Nightwing” too. So if I’m keeping track right, Gotham needs Batman, Batman decides who in Gotham needs help, but also Gotham’s heroes need Nightwing. Got it. The writing is tortuous at times and I can’t tell if it’s meant to be funny or poignant. I’d argue it’s neither. There’s glimmers of intrigue with Peacekeeper-06’s backstory, but the sheer amount of times she calls people “scum” grew irritating, and ultimately their tragic background plays no true part in the story.

Credit: Nicola Scott, Ivan Plascencia, Wes Abbott

Even if I’m being too harsh on the dialogue, the plotting itself is haphazard. Dick sets off a giant EMP blast to disable the Magistrate’s tanks and heavy duty “cybers”, creating a cool siege scenario. That EMP blast wears off almost immediately, but don’t worry allies arrive to help save the day, which gives Nightwing and Batman time to escape in his fancy new car. Of course, that car ride doesn’t last long before they come face to face with Peacekeeper-06…in a construction site. If your book starts at Arkham Asylum, but ends in a construction site I’d argue your story is moving in the wrong direction. The stakes change so rapidly, without proper set up so often, that it feels like nothing matters. By the end, Nightwing does break through his doubts and displays his leadership qualities, but I wish we got to see him set up his elaborate plans and not just hear them listed out in the final pages.

Spoiler
Batman conveniently called for back up without Nightwing knowing. Nightwing also just happens to have an army of invisible drone cameras, which he keeps a secret for no real reason. Readers get a glimpse of one of these invisible drones in a blink and you’ll miss it panel, but even Batman questions why Nightwing makes a random Magistrate soldier reveal their nefarious plans.

I think the issue would work much better if Constant didn’t keep important plot points so close to the chest. The beginning of the book brings up the media as an important factor in the Magistrate’s control, so Nightwing’s plan to use media to their benefit makes perfect sense. I just wish the entire story focused on that, instead of keeping it as a surprise reveal at the end. All in all, Future State: Nightwing #2 frustrates me because I see the potential of a great issue, but fundamental missteps in the script and artist choice hinder it from reaching its goals.

Recommended if…

  • Cyberpunk tales of media manipulation and fascist doctrines appeal to you.
  • You don’t mind a gritty Nightwing who relies more on brute force than agility.
  • Getting a full picture of “Future State” is important to you.

Overall

Future State: Nightwing #2 plays with interesting ideas in all the wrong ways. The drama is inert due to some key plot points being kept a secret until the end. Additionally, Nicola Scott struggles to both create interesting compositions and display Nightwing’s unique skill set. Constant’s script is overwritten, filled to the brim with ideas and statements that don’t congeal into a precise point. Despite this issue not fully working for me, I’m eager to see Constant’s work yet to come.

Score: 6/10


Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.