There's plenty to like in Future State: The Next Batman #2 (opens in new tab), though it must be said upfront that the first issue's distinctive cyberpunk vibe is lacking – a result of Nick Derington and Tamra Bonvillain not handling the art of this issue's Tim Fox story. (Derington provides the layouts, so his strong sense of space and pacing on the page still shines through.) Instead, the linework comes from Laura Braga and is supplemented by Arif Prianto's colors.
Written by John Ridley, Vita Ayala, and Paula Sevenbergen
Art by Laura Braga, Nick Derington, Arif Prianto, Aneke, Trish Mulvihill, Rob Haynes, Emanuela Lupacchino, Wade von Grawbadger, and John Kalisz
Lettered by Clayton Cowles and Becca Carey
Published by DC
'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10
John Ridley's script sees their hero doing some detective work after coming across a grisly murder scene before running foul of the Magistrate's men, which ensures this creative team has just as much chance to portray some crisp, textured action over the course of the story. It's still an impressive-looking section of the book, just it's a shame to see the starting creative team couldn't carry it to the end considering how entrancing that first chapter was.(opens in new tab)
As for the back-ups, one sees Vita Ayala deliver some strong characterization for both Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown as the two find themselves as cellmates in one of the Magistrate's prisons. The former is a new inmate, while the latter has been hardened by their time spent on the inside and Ayala delves into those headspaces particularly well. Aneke and Trish Mulvihill use a lot of close-up panels and shadows to reinforce the nature of the restrictive locale too.
The other back-up is a Gotham City Sirens story, though this ultimately feels out of place amidst the dystopic Gotham, due to the lighter tone of Paula Sevenbergen's plotting and dialogue which tends to sound expository and stilted. It's more of a swing and a miss rather than an outright misfire, and if nothing else, Emanuela Lupacchino's expressive penciling backs up the comedic slant of the story and as such it could work better for other readers than it did for this critic.
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