DC's "Future State" event gave readers an intriguing look at a possible future for the DC universe and its heroes and, with the event over and things shifting ahead in "Infinite Frontier," stories that show how the narrative reached the bleak reality of "Future State" are starting to carve that path. It feels, then, a bit unexpected to have a series simply remain in that future reality but that is exactly what Future State: Gotham #1 does—taking one of the better general storylines from the event series and giving it a bit more room to grow. While more of Joshua Williamson's take on Jason Todd is certainly welcome, the comic has a strange specificity that limits its appeal and may leave most mainstream readers wondering why DC is dipping back into "Future State" already.
There's a lot going on in Future State: Gotham #1 but it largely boils down to the idea that Jason is hunting the Bat-Family on behalf of the Magistrate and he's crossed a lot of people in order to make that happen. However, just under the surface, there's a sense of mystery as to what Jason is actually pursuing. He has a motive, but this is more than just justice on his own terms. It's honestly one of the most complex takes on Red Hood I have read, which is obviously good. Where it suffers, though, is there is a lot of exposition here and it feels a great deal the comic is filling narrative space when forcibly revisiting events that almost certainly will not come to pass. There's a bit of dissonance here in terms of reader investment.
What's stunning about the issue, however, is the art. There will be those who are immediately turned off by this comic being in black and white. Gotham in the "Future State" timeline is slick and neon and bright and high tech so the colors are a huge part of the story. This comic being entirely in black and white strips all that away, but while the flash and brightness aren't there, it's the manga-like style that makes the visuals extremely interesting. Does it, at times, feel like an Akira rip-off? Absolutely, but pairing a Jason Todd story with kinetic, black and white art is still such a good choice. The art in this comic book has a pulse and it's that pulse that elevates the debut from a "why did this get approved?" to something genuinely well worth reading.
Speaking of Akira, the backup story in the issue is by Akira creator Katsuhiro Otomo and while it doesn't really fit in any tidy little box, it's an unnerving and fascinating take on the idea that everyone wears a mask. It's something that will continue to live in reader's heads long after they close the issue.
Future State: Gotham #1 is a comic book that no one really asked for, but between the writers' solid grasp on Jason Todd and their willingness to go (a little) outside the box with him along with the unexpected approach to the book's art, it manages to land as a solid read. Even if you're not sold on Future State comics or have no strong desire to revisit that setting, this remains a cool premise with interesting ideas, enough to potentially offer readers a look at a Gotham and Red Hood that they've never really seen before.
Published by DC Comics
On May 11, 2020
Written by Dennis Culver and Joshua Williamson
Art by Giannis Milonogiannis0comments
Letters by Troy Peteri
Cover by Yasmine Putri