Review: Future State: Gotham # 12

Overview: The second arc ends in Future State: Gotham # 12 with a mek versus clown fight and Dick Grayson’s moment of stunned clarity.

Synopsis (spoilers ahead): As Future State: Gotham # 12 begins, Nightwing recovers from his massive drug trip in Talia’s facility and mumbles about bats and jokers. Meanwhile, Red Hood and the next Batman face the Next Joker in their new transforming mech suits, while Hunter Panic and Harley Quinn try to bring Tobias Whale to safety. While the Jace and Jason tag team is the happy clown, Harley apparently leads his followers into a trap for Hush. Jason triggers an EMP, which knocks out the next joker’s suit, causing him to collapse. Harley knocks out Hunter Panic, and Hush continues to hold on to a secret Harley hideout for Ivy to get her services via extortion. Hush continues to shoot Whale and take over crime in Gotham.

While the news reports on the chaos in Gotham after Next Joker’s capture, Jason visits Hunter Panic and tries to figure out what to do now that they know Hush was behind everything that started with the Bat Crater – but they also find out that the real Joker has caught the next joker while the clown was being transported.

Talia enters Nightwing’s room. He reveals that he knows where Damian AND Bruce are and he has a plan to save the world and stop the judge by becoming a bat.

Analysis: Dennis Culver and Giannis Milonogiannis end the second arc of this manga-like dystopian Bat family story with a big fight and an almost complete defeat for our main characters Jason and Jace. While such a note of failure certainly fits with a dystopia, it’s frustrating to have our main characters turn their wheels to achieve worse than nothing after twelve numbers. The creative team’s inability to take full advantage of the Future State Gotham world also continues to be intensely frustrating. While Jason and Jace Fox already had a large amount of focus given to them in the original Future State event, the rest of the Bat family has only been seen in cameos, despite promises from the original co-author of the series, Joshua Williamson, that the entire Bat the family would join. Maybe he just meant the cameos we got in the first arc, but if that is the case, it’s something of a failure for those of us who were fascinated by the ideas introduced in Batgirls, Arkham Knights, Outside, Dark detectivethe story of Grifter and the Hunter, Robin Eternal, Catwomanand more.

Jason and Jace also have very, very little to give to the story in terms of motivation or relationships, for the most part they act as action figures to pit up against the action figures from equally poorly defined villains like the new Joker or the victorious Hush. Milonogiannis does a decent job with the action, but the script does not reveal character in that action, leaving much of this comic feeling extremely hollow. The hints of interest and progression come from the brief Dick Grayson and Talia al Ghul opening and closing of the book, where the most interesting ideas in the series so far – Bruce and Damian’s return – begin to take shape. One can only hope that this plotline, and not Jason and Jace, will take center stage for the next arc and expand the cast to make better use of the potential of this setting and aesthetics.

Jamal Campbell’s beautiful, heartwarming and inspiring Nightwing story that maps Dick Grayon’s life and influence on the DC Universe, “The Man Who Flies”, from the latest Batman: Black and white series, rounds out this issue and gives a special treat to the arc final.

Simone di Meo gives this series perhaps the most relaxing look of Next Joker on the main cover, with Batman and Red Hood cards flying towards the viewer, in typically dynamic di Meo fashion. Mike Bowden draws the cardstock variant, with Next Batman swinging through the shiny Future State Gotham, full of bold lines and a neon blue background, the beautifully designed Future State trading dress in the corner. Both covers are pretty appealing aesthetically, providing a good (if perhaps difficult) choice for buyers.

Editor’s Note: DC Comics provided TBU with a copy of this comic for review purposes. You can find this comic and help support TBU in the process by purchasing this issue digitally at Comixology through Amazon or a physical copy of the title throughout Things from another world.

Future State: Gotham # 12

Overall score

2.5 / 5

An end to failure for our protagonists with promises of a better future, but after a full year of the title, Future State: Gotham must put character development, casting and world exploration up in much higher gear.

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