After months of build-up, Future State is at hand. The Dark Knight: Death Metal saga concludes, forming this new reality, at least for the next two months. This title in particular stirred curiosity since its announcement because not only would it jump to a future Gotham, but the man behind the Cowl would no longer be Bruce Wayne. At long last from DC comics, we have The Next Batman 1.

If you thought Gotham City was bad before it pales compared to what now rules its streets. As yet we do not know what happened to Bruce Wayne other than, it wasn’t good. After his ‘fall’ for lack of better words, Gotham descended into its current hellish state. Someone known as the Magistrate rules Gotham. Vigilantism is not only frowned upon, anyone found wearing a mask will be shot on sight by the peacekeepers.

Luke Fox now wears the mantle of The Bat and patrols the city. This issue does a great job of making Luke feel like a younger, more hungry Bruce Wayne. Unfortunately, the mask only complicates his already complicated family life. His sister, Tam, is in a coma for some reason we do not know, but Luke’s mother blames her condition on ‘the masks’. She sides with the Peacekeepers, yet she knows Luke is the Batman or seems to be. Luke’s brother Tim, who prefers Jace now, had a major falling out with the family and Luke kicks him out of their sister’s hospital room.

The Next Batman 1 – Close but not Quite

This title does a nice job of showing Luke as Batman. He carries the weight of the mantle well and looked good in the little action we saw him in. His costume looks like Bruce’s except it now has a faceplate over the lower face where Bruce left it open. We see the current condition of Gotham, but how it could have deteriorated so badly boggles the mind. We also get a quick snapshot into the current state of the Fox family, but overall this issue really did not connect very well with me. It was too superficial and too shallow for a limited run series. It does have the advantage of running for four issues where most of the Future State titles will only run for two installments.

I think part of the problem with The Next Batman 1 rests with the length. This title may run for 63 pages, but they crammed two more stories into the pages. We also get a Katana story and a story about the Arkham Knights. The Katana story I thought was terrible. I do not understand the character even though they do a good job explaining her sword. I fail to see what her purpose was in adding it to this story. She completes a quick little mission and battle, but why did we need it? The end brings in Black Lightning (yes the one from the CW show), but again why? For such a short run story it served no purpose.

The Arkham Knights story, however, served a bit more purpose and intrigued me more. Like the Katana story, the overall story does set up the state of Gotham and drive home the terrible condition of the city, but the Arkham story does it better. Then again perhaps the advantage lies with the team itself. Katana tells a very brief story of a hero. The Arkham story tells the state of a city in such bad shape, former villains are banding together to create a team of new heroes. We briefly saw Astrid Arkham in a previous Batman title, but her story was likewise too short. In this story, she leads the Arkham Knights comprised of Mr. Dent, Clayface, Dr. Phosphorus, Victor Zasz, and other villains in a cohesive team to rescue killer croc. How bad is a city when it unites villains against it?

Perhaps the four-issue story arc will bring more life and feeling to The next Batman, but this single issue came up a bit flat. We will see where Luke Fox takes us in The Next Batman 2.

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