DC's Batman line of comic books will be getting a dramatic change in January 2021 - all the ongoing titles will be paused, and in their place new series that will introduce a new status quo set several years in the future as part of the now-revealed 'Future State' event.
"['Future State'] is a combination of two things. It's an opportunity to tell some really exciting stories in the imminent future of Gotham City, and it's an opportunity to work with a lot of really great, diverse creators. It's a future look at things to come," Batman group editor Ben Abernathy tells Newsarama.
"For new readers, it's an exciting, killer story. But it's also a possible outcome for the titles in the modern-day line."
In this view at a possible DC future, Gotham City has been taken over by an insidious law enforcement agency known as the Magistrate.
"They patrol the streets using advance surveillance weaponry in the form of 'Cybers': robot law enforcement peacekeepers, who are the highest level of law in the food chain," Abernathy explains. "I've joked internally that they're the 'Sith Lords' of Gotham, and they basically patrol the streets and keep it 'safe' from all sorts of 'masks' - villain or hero. It is now illegal to be a masked vigilante in the city, and the consequences are dire."
The leader of the Magistrate is a man named Peacekeeper One.
"Who he is, what he is... get a sense of that as the story progresses, but there's one element to explore for years to come."
Under its control, all masked vigilantes ('masks' as they call them) have been outlawed, and Batman himself is presumed dead. In his place, a new group of heroes - led by an all-new Batman - have risen up to fight for justice.
For the months of January and February of 2021, DC's Batman line will be comprised of two oversized, twice-monthly anthologies and five monthly limited series.
The first anthology is Future State: The Next Batman, with a lead story of the same name by John Ridley, Nick Derington, and Laura Braga. Supplementing that story will be four serials: Outsiders (Brandon Thomas and Sumit Kumar), Arkham Knights (Paul Jenkins and Jack Herbert), Batgirls (Vita Ayala and Aneke), and Gotham City Sirens (Paula Sevenbergen and Emanuela Lupacchino).
For those wondering - Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown are the stars of Batgirls, and Outsiders is led by Katana.
The second anthology, Dark Detective, will lead with a titular story by Mariko Tamaki and Dan Mora. Spoilers - although DC (and the Magistrate) say Batman is dead, Abernathy confirms this story will feature a very-much-alive Bruce Wayne.
It'll be joined by a Grifters serial by Matthew Rosenberg and Carmine di Giandomenico, and Red Hood by Joshua Williamson and Giannis Milonogiannis. In the latter, Red Hood will be a bounty hunter.
Here are the five standalone two-issue limited series, along with a brief rundown by Abernathy:
- Future State: Batman/Superman, by Gene Luen Yang and Ben Oliver ("The world’s finest do battle in the Magistrate’s Kryptonite Caverns!")
- Future State: Catwoman, by Ram V and Otto Schmidt ("Catwoman is going to save a train full of prisoners from the Magistrate the only way she knows how…by stealing it!")
- Future State: Harley Quinn, by Stephanie Phillips and Simone Di Meo ("The Magistrate things Harley Quinn is their ultimate weapon…but she’s about to backfire on them!")
- Future State: Nightwing, by Andrew Constant and Nicola Scott ("Poster boy of the resistance against the Magistrate is bringing sexy back!")
- Future State: Robin Eternal, by Meghan Fitzmartin and Eddy Barrows ("A new substance called the Lazarus Resin will make the Magistrate immortal. Tim Drake is here to stop it…whatever it takes!")
"My phenomenal editorial group and I mapped out a vision for a possible future for the Batline; where things could lie or go towards," the editor tells Newsarama. "With those seeds of ideas, we began reaching out to talent we wanted for 'Future State.' The creative teams really responded in the 'best case' scenario imaginable, and together we ran with them, developed them, evolved them, and morphed them into great books. These are beautifully illustrated titles I think people will really enjoy."
While these will work as standalone stories you can begin in January and finish in February, Abernathy tells Newsarama some of these characters and storyline threads will continue when the modern-day Bat-books resume in March.
"With the Bat group title, it's definitely a look towards the future," Abernathy says. "How much of that future is true is uncertain, because decisions in the present can always change the future. On one hand, yes they're great standalone stories but the seeds... wait, 'Future State' doesn't plant seeds; it's already crop-grown. The seeds are already planted; these stories will come to fruition in the main line."
Abernathy points to Batman: Joker War Zone #1 and Detective Comics #1027 as 'seeds' already available, as well as the upcoming Batman #101 and Detective Comics #1030 as places people to look for "easter eggs" about what's to come with Future State.
Check out our always-updated list of the new Batman comics, graphic novels, and collections coming from DC.