FUTURE STATE: DARK DETECTIVE #1/ Scripts by MARIKO TAMAKI & MATTHEW ROSENBERG/ Art by DAN MORA & CARMINE DI GIANDOMENICO/ Colors by JORDIE BELLAIRE & ANTONIO FABELA/ Letters by ADITYA BIDIKAR & ANDWORLD DESIGN/ Cover by DAN MORA/ Variant Covers by JOHN PAUL LEON & STANLEY “ARTGERM” LAU/ Published by DC COMICS
Like last week’s Future State: The New Batman, Future State: Dark Detective is an anthology set in the fascist future of Gotham City. Unlike that earlier book, Dark Detective is far more accessible to new readers and doesn’t require any familiarity with the recent history of the various Batman books. Both the stories contained within this comic give you everything you need to know as the action flows.
“Bruce Wayne Is A Dead Man” opens with Bruce Wayne wounded and on the run. With his resources limited and The Magistrate – the new security firm now running Gotham City as a police state – closing in on him, Bruce has to figure out what his next move is. This is a classic situation taken from a thousand detective stories, but Mariko Tamaki makes it seem new by giving Bruce a crisis of faith as well, leaving him wondering what options are available to him as a fugitive in a city that has turned its back on the heroes that protected it to embrace security over freedom.
The Neo Noir aura of the story is reflected in the artwork as well, with the darkness of Gotham’s alleyways clashing with the bright neon of the new holographic billboards that dominate the main streets. I couldn’t help but be reminded of Blade Runner; an effect I’m sure was intentional on the part of Dan Mora and Jordie Bellaire. The lettering by Aditya Bidkar is also amazing, with alternating fonts being used for the mechanical and human forces of the Magistrate.
The second story, “No Past, No Future,” is more traditional but still enjoyable. The action here centers around Cole Cash (aka Grifter) who had the misfortune to be caught inside Gotham City when the city was sealed off from the outside world. Though he’s been effectively retired from the costume act for some time, he still gets picked up in a raid seeking out anyone who might be a threat to the Magistrate. This leads to a job offer from another prisoner; $50,000 if he can get them out of Gotham City.
I’m only broadly familiar with Wild C.A.T.S. and the associated heroes, so I’m glad that Matthew Rosenberg’s story acts as an introduction to who Grifter is, as well as the setting of future Gotham. While there’s still some Noir elements in play, the action here is closer to an Oceans 11 heist movie with comedy amid the action sequences. The artwork by Carmine Di Giandomenico reflects this, with this story playing out like a summer blockbuster. The colors by Antonio Favela are flashier and the word balloons by Andworld Designs are bigger, playing into the high-octane aesthetic of Grifter’s world.
While offering two entirely different kinds of detective stories, Future State: Dark Detective can be enjoyed by just about anyone. I can’t vouch for how accurate it is to earlier Grifter comics but the Batman story offers a twisted cyberpunk take on Gotham City unlike anything I’ve seen before. For that alone this issue is worth picking up.