After a promising second issue, Future State: Gotham returns for its third foray into the dark future of, well, Gotham. Previously, Peacekeeper Red and the Next Batman had been caught in the middle of a mass breakout at Blackgate Penitentiary. Will this unlikely duo survive the night, or do the inmates of Blackgate have more sinister plans?

 

More like Arkham Knightfall in quality

Joshua Williamson and Dennis Culver drop us right where we left off, with Jace and Jason fighting for their lives against the inmates of Blackgate while Dick and Tim investigate the suspiciously bat-shaped crater in the middle of downtown Gotham. It’s an interesting set of parallel stories, or at least, it would be, given that Dick and Tim are given about 3 pages worth of focus and do basically nothing in that span. It’s a major letdown, considering the larger role they seemed to have been set up to take last issue. In fact, most of issue 3 is kind of underwhelming. A lot of page time is devoted to cameos from the Bat-rogues, such as Two Face, Copperhead, Killer Croc, etc. Even Punchline has a way too long cameo that I reeeeeeally hope leads somewhere soon, because it takes up a LOT of page time for what seems like no reason at all. On top of this, we get introduced to Warmonger, a new villain that seems to be at odds to the Peacekeepers (in case you couldn’t tell by the name) but ALSO somehow knows things about Astrid Arkham (like the way she ran her Arkham Knights, for example) that he couldn’t know unless he was one of them, so be on the lookout for that twist, I guess.

Hey man, at least he looks cool.

To be fully honest, I’m not sure what they’re going for with his design here. His appearance in issues 1 and 2 evoked a kind of urban guerilla fighter with a whole ball cap and poncho thing going on, but now he’s full on Norse warrior. He looks like he could have walked straight out of a God of War game or Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. It’s not a bad design, just one that I feel could have been more congruent with the world around it. It seems like Williamson is setting him up to be a kind of crazy cult leader type; he regularly refers to the Blackgate inmates as “my heathens”. It’s not necessarily a BAD setup for a villain, but it is definitely one that needs to put some extra work in to stand out from the crowd.

Candygram for (War)monger

So what DID I like about this issue? The art. Giannis Milogiannis is insanely talented. I’m extremely happy to see that the first issue’s art troubles seem to be gone, and Milogiannis’ style has come into its own in this book. There are some very neat shots here that feel dynamic and interesting and add to the midnight mystery of Gotham.

These glider designs RULE.

Jace and Jason also feel great in this book. Williamson and Culver maintain a believable and entertaining level of banter between them, and I really hope we get to see these two working more together in the future.

I also LOVE how Milogiannis draws Jace’s Batsuit. It’s imposing and stylish all at the same time, and I’m a massive fan of the full face guard. Jace is almost always drawn in some kind of dynamic pose throughout the issue as well, which adds to his vibe of being a younger, more energetic Batman. Great stuff.

End of the (Punch)line

The backup story for this issue is Punchline, a story already published in Batman: Black and White. I’m a little confused as to why these are getting republished alongside this series. I understand that both are Bat-series, and both are black and white, but does this book need a backup story so badly that we need reprinted material? Just my two cents.

Recommended if…

  • You’re excited to follow Jason post-Future State.
  • Jace and Jason interacting appeals to you.
  • You’re invested in the State of Gotham in the near Future.

Overall

This book has had some ups and downs for sure. Last issue was such a creative breakaway, and I was hoping the momentum would carry over into this issue, but it looks like we’re going to be stuck in setup hell for a while. I wish I could say I wasn’t disappointed.

Score: 5/10


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