Before we start anything, I want to clarify and apologize for some things in my review of this series’ last issue. In said review, I realize now that I made it seem like this book having black and white art negatively impacted my score of the issue. I’m sorry for that. It’s not true, and, as we’ll see this issue, there’s some black and white art I really like! My main complaint was that sometimes the  panels were hard to parse, mostly due to the lack of color meaning most things needed a little more contrast for me. I’ll try to be more explicit in the future about gripes that I have that don’t affect my score.

Secondly, there was a large part of my review that was missing last time. There was a backup story by Akira creator Katsuhiro Otomo, a translation of his story The Third Mask, which I didn’t cover in the review. I’m going to be fully honest, I was having a bad week. Maybe I forgot to review it, maybe that part of the review got lost when I uploaded it to this site, that doesn’t matter. What matters is that it wasn’t there, I’m going to include my review of that backup story at the end of this article to do my due diligence. Again, I’m sorry, to creators and readers alike, and that won’t happen again.

Okay. With the heavy stuff out of the way: Jason Todd is in trouble! Working undercover as Gotham’s newest Peacekeeper, and surrounded by the Bat-Family, the Red Hood is going to have to pull some pretty tricky maneuvers to get out of this one! Will he convince them to talk and tell him the location of the new Batman, or will he be taken down by his old friends? Let’s drop in and find out!

Okay, well, that title sure ruined my rhetorical up there, huh?

Seriously, way to undercut the suspense. I guess I can pack it up now. Go home, everyone. Nothing to see here.

Jokes aside though, I think Joshua Williamson and Dennis Culver have hit their stride this issue. The amount of meandering about, setting up things last issue worried me, but we’re off at a fairly nice pace now, and things are getting good!

The Bat-Family tension in this issue is great. Opening with Jason reflecting on all the other times he’s betrayed the family and realizing that he’ll have to do it again is wonderful. I have one tiny little problem though.

Spoiler

Hey, so, uh, why is this in Jason’s flashbacks?

It’s the scene of Jason holding Tim at knife point during Hush, but that wasn’t him, that was Clayface, right? As far as I know, that hasn’t been changed within continuity. Please comment and tell me if I’m wrong here, but this just seems like someone did two seconds of research for “Jason Todd vs. Bat-Family” and left it at that.

Overall, Dick is written a little angrier than normal, but I think it’s a cool, subtle way to show how Bruce’s death has affected him. He’s more serious now, turning into the man he swore he would never become. I know it’s not exclusive to this book, but I still think it’s a nice touch. The writers use it effectively to drive a wedge between Dick and Jason. While some of the other members remain on the fence, Dick is done giving people the benefit of the doubt. ESPECIALLY Jason. After all, how could he extend courtesy to the man who joined up with the group that killed the Batman?

Speaking of Jason joining the Peacekeepers, we finally meet his mysterious handler this issue. While I won’t spoil it here, I will say I wasn’t surprised. It was one of my two prevailing theories, but its predictability doesn’t make it boring in the least. In fact, I’m even more intrigued in the hunt for the new Batman now that we have some insight into the person behind the scenes. There’s some interesting drama and tension in the air that I can’t wait to see play out.

I was also glad to spend some time with the rest of the Bat-Family this issue, even when Jason wasn’t on screen. I was a little worried at first that despite being called Future State: Gotham, the book would end up just being a Red Hood solo book. I’m glad to see that we are getting a look at Gotham as a whole after all, without sacrificing Jason’s status as the main character.

The art in this issue has also significantly improved since last time, and that’s in large part due to the shading throughout the issue. The characters, usually lighter in color, are put against darker backgrounds more consistently, and characters with dark suits, like Nightwing, are given light backgrounds. This helps all of the characters pop from the page, and makes the book incredibly nice to look at.

This panel in particular stands out. Giannis Milonogiannis absolutely knocked it out of the park here. The slow shift from dark to light in the background is an absolutely wonderful trick, and gives the feeling of Gotham being illuminated by all of the holograms and streetlights; it’s really nice to look at, and probably my favorite shot in the book, closely tied with the moment Jason runs into the new Batman.

I absolutely LOVE this panel. It feels really dynamic, the shading and linework is fantastic, and the letterer went OFF with the sound effects. Troy Peteri has been having a blast with the effects this whole book, honestly, and I love to see it. They take me back to playing with my action figures as a kid, making little sound effects for every time a cape swooshed or a batarang flew through the air.

Absolute pure, childlike joy when I look at this

It’s a real treat to look at, and I hope it continues like this for the rest of the series.

Score: 7/10

Backup Story: The Cavalry

Man-Bat has Pavloved me into getting happy at the sight of Dave Wielgosz

The back story for this issue is centered on Jace Fox as he’s dealing with his life decisions. Simple enough, I’m sure it’ll just be a quiet little introspective piece about-

Oh.

So yeah, this story focuses on Jace’s experience being kidnapped by the Igloo Bois, the hilariously named gang made up of Penguin’s ex-henchmen. According to Batman, they have also become incredibly racist, and a lot of them comment on how Jace is black after shattering his face shield. They then proceed to confirm Jace’s analysis in some of the funniest rapid-fire dialogue I’ve seen in a long time.

It’s like a lightning round of confirmation!

Due to the short window John Ridley has with this story, though, he has to move fast, and Jace’s little sister shows up (like the Cavalry!) and they proceed to wipe out the gang, with some very satisfying racist punching, and chats about the nature of the Foxes’ Bat-mission along the way. It’s a nice little story, and I had a good time reading it. Oliver Coipel’s art is fantastic as well, and is a real treat for the eyes.

Score: 7/10

Let’s do this right: The Third Mask Review

Alright, here’s that section about the Third Mask! I’ll try to keep this concise, this review is getting long as is.

The story focuses on Batman dealing with a serial killer with way too many M.O.s for one person. Gordon is sure there must be accomplices, but the killer reveals that he is host to multiple personalities, each with its own preferred way of killing people. He tries to goad Batman into insanity, citing the power of his multiple personas as his reason for victory.

Bruce goes home to ponder on this before getting another emergency call, being baited into a trap by his many-minded opponent. He drives the Batmobile into the explosion, prompting the man to assume he’s won. However, a figure stumbles out of the wreckage, leaving us with one of the most haunting endings to a Batman strip I’ve seen in a while.

Spooky

Otomo’s art really makes this backstory. The man is a master, obviously, but I REALLY like the way he draws Batman. It’s reminiscent of the 70s/80s era Batman that I was first introduced to, and I always love to see it.

Recommended if…

  • You’re intrigued in the aftermath of Future State.
  • Jason Todd is your favorite Robin.
  • A good double agent story really floats your boat.
  • You love the Bat-Family and seeing them on their own.

Overall

This issue was a real spike in quality for me. The story finally found its footing, and it took off running. I’m actually excited to see what happens next, and I was not expecting that with the way this mini opened. The art was also far more appealing to me this time around, and I hope it sticks. The backup story is also fun, I really enjoy John Ridley writing Jace, and I like that the character is being fleshed out.

Score: 7/10


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