In this week’s slate of Future State titles we get The Next Batman 3. This issue is messed up! I do not mean the art or the story telling, or even mean it in a bad way. This issue takes multiple view point, and when blended together, makes an absolute mess of Gotham. You do not know who to side with because they are all messed up.

When The Next Batman first started I was less than impressed. The Second issue improved slightly, but it still lacked something. The third issue begins to finally draw all the pieces together, and at long last we get a full picture of the Fox Family dysfunction.

The Next Batman 3 – War of Views

When we left Batman, he just tracked down the killers of a heinous crime, but in hearing their side, the two parents simply avenged a wronged daughter. The Magistrate’s forces show up and want to kill everybody. Of course Batman refuses to let these two murderers go down. He risks life and limb to rescue them, but once they are safe he tells them he will turn them over to detectives.

The dad, who owes his life to Batman, turns on him and beats the shit out of him with the intention of killing him. How’s that for gratitude? The wife watches on in horror. Batman’s excuse was that they are still killers, but they deserve their day in court given the circumstances. Each with their own hard headed views, and both now suffer because of it.

We also get a quick glimpse into the Fox family dysfunction. Tanya (mom) continues her quest against ‘the masks’. She sets her mind to legalizing and fortifying current laws about shoot on sight. She turns to her husband, Lucius, for help. Lucius hatred of masks seems wrong, but apparently his abuse at the hands of Punchline changed him. He hates masks now, but he refuses to help Tanya with her goal. Their daughter Tiffany recoils at what is being done to the masks. She brings in a subtle racial component with her mom that applies perfectly, but her mom rejects it.

Then we have Luke, formerly Batwing. He still works out despite not wearing the mask, but the issue here lies with their brother Tim/Jace. Luke condemns Jace for what he did, but then praises anyone who wears a mask as being a great guy. Boy, will he be in for a surprise.

The Next Batman 3 – The Other Stories

One of my big criticisms of the Future State titles has been the addition of the extra stories on some issues. Some work quite well, but others leave the issue lacking and add nothing to the Future State universe. Sadly, the Next Batman extras fall into this category.

The first story picks up with Katana and Signal…and Black Lightning, who is now a sword. I don’t get it. They rebel against the Magistrate, but the story’s components don’t really add up and bring up several confusing plots. This issue could drop this story and not suffer at all.

The third story follows the Arkham Knights. Astrid, who was introduced in the normal Bat-titles, leads former Arkham inmates against the Magistrate. This story actually intrigues me, but crammed into such a short story, it fails to adequately use the criminals’ personalities. Villains never work well together and there should be more clashing attitudes. This story belongs in a bigger series.

The Next Batman 3- Short Term Failure, Long Term Potential

I think as a short series, The Next Batman fails to be a compelling title, but as a longer term series, it carries a great deal of potential. Jace Fox plays an okay Batman, but the short title does not give him room to make the role his own. The Fox family dynamic also needs to be featured in a larger story. With each member on a different side in the ‘mask debate’, there could be some dynamic story telling. I hate heavy handed political lecturing in comics/movies, but I think this story lends itself well to doing it in a subtle and effective manner.

The Outsiders brings nothing to the table as written, but the Arkham Knights story line would be well served with its own title. We need to see more clashing between members and Astrid’s attempts to keep the team together and focused. The clashes could be both hilarious and potent when taken seriously.

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