Writers: John Riddley (Batman), Paula Sevenbergen Batgirls) & Vita Ayala (Gotham Sirens)
Art: Laura Braga (Batman) Emmanuela Lupacchino (Batgirls) & Aneke (Gotham Sirens)
Publisher: DC COMICS
Release Date: January 19th, 2021
Issue two of The Next Batman contains 3 separate stories. I am assuming that explains that crazy price of $7.99 (my poor wallet). However, it is somewhat worth it. Let’s dive into the first story FUTURE STATE: THE NEXT BATMAN #2.
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Our first story is centered around the Next Batman (or Tim Fox) thinking about Gotham. I love it when writers fully display the two distinct parts of Gotham City. According to Fox, Gotham City has an amazing social life and a killer skyline at sunset (he must have had never gone to San Francisco). However, in the same breath, Fox also states that after sundown, Gotham is nothing more than a city full of violence and murder. You honestly need the latter of these two versions of Gotham. Yes, during the day, violence still happens, etc, but when the sun goes down, our favorite villains really comes out to play. That is Gotham at its finest. With characters such as Poison Ivy and Mr. Freeze (I was just watching Batman and Robin) utilizing the city as their playground!
Fox (or can we now say Batman), arrives at a murder scene. He notices a few things that seemed off. Mainly that the murder victim was not robbed. I love the difference of dialogue with Tim Fox. Riddley is able to shower a younger and more “hip” Batman. Now granted, we all love Bruce Wayne (hell, I even have a Batman & Robin tattoo), but Fox is a modern young guy. For example, Ridley demonstrates this by Fox using the word “hella” (maybe he has been to San Francisco). Can you imagine Bruce saying “hella?” No!
Batman notices a security camera and blows up a building to look at the footage. Now, this is not the same level of finesse that we are used to from the Dark Knight. But since he was on a time limit, we’ll give him a pass as the Magistrate and their Peacekeepers were on their way. In this new Gotham, “masks” (villains, heroes, and civilians alike) are to be shot on site. No questions asked. Once he finishes reviewing the footage, Batman quickly takes off noticing that the Peacekeepers were there faster than he had expected. After a brief fight with the Peacekeepers, Batman flees the scene on a motorcycle.
The next couple of pages shows Fox’s mother Tanya, in a deep conversation with the mayor. Their conversation bounces between the new Batman and the legality of the shoot on sight orders. Nowadays in Gotham, the Gotham City Police Department must use equal or lesser force when taking down “masks.” However, the Magistrate and their Peacekeepers are allowed to use specialized equipment and force that is not equal or lesser force. Double standard much?
After some speedy detective work, Batman ends up finding the murderers. After a quick fight, the murderers tell Batman that they killed the guy who had been grooming their teenage daughter. Their daughter was still missing, but they knew that she had been killed by their victim. The first story ends with the Magistrate and their Peacekeepers surrounding Batman and the two murderers.
In our second story, we are introduced to the Magistrate’s Detention Facility. I love the life that Emmanuela Lupacchino creates within the facility. Our first page plays like the scene from Silence of the Lambs. The new inmate is walking down the row of cells and you see heroes and villains alike either cheering that the new inmate had finally been arrested, or lamenting her capture.
One of the guards gives the new inmate another chance to give up information on the Resistance (a group of superheroes who are rightfully rising against the Magistrate etc), but she does not. The inmate is then thrown into a cell and we are finally able to see who it is: Cassandra Cain. Batgirl herself. Her cellmate (much to her disdain) is Stephanie Brown or the Spoiler OR Batgirl. Stephanie knows Cassandra is up to something and wants Cassandra to ask her for help. Cassandra refuses to do so as Stephanie has been deemed a traitor to the Resistance.
The next couple of pages are broken up into days. Cain tries to pick a fight with various inmates to be sent into solitary confinement, but no one takes the bait. She sees Jason Todd and he tells her that per Stephanie’s orders, no one is to fight Cassandra.
Pissed off, Cassandra rushes off to find Stephanie. After a quick fight in the laundry room (Orange is the New Black style) the duo is both taken into solitary. While in solitary, Stephanie lets Cassandra know that she is secretly undercover on the orders of Nightwing to find the missing Barbara Gordon. She wanted to help Cassandra, but she did not necessarily want her cover to be spoiled (heh heh heh). Feeling guilty, Cain finally tells Stephanie that she had received a message that led her to believe that Batman was still alive and was being held at the bottom of the detention facility. So, to rescue him, she allowed herself to be arrested in hopes to break both she and Batman out of the facility. Wanting to help, Stephanie calls in a few favors from other various inmates to create a distraction for Cain to rescue Batman and escape. This story ends with a pending riot between the inmates and the guards.
The final story is a bit shorter than the previous two. Our Gotham City Sirens (sans Harley Quinn) are up to their usual tricks again. They are robbing the business of Dax Dilton. They are hoping to grab the technology that he had designed which was being used in the Magistrates Cyber (their version of Terminator-like robots that kills “masks”). They are being assisted by one of Dilton’s Androids, Dee-Dee.
Thinking they had tripped an alarm, the trio runs out of the building. It turns out that down below, a group of protestors was being rounded up by the Peacekeepers. After defending some of the protestors, the Sirens escape to a rooftop speakeasy that is for “masks” only. Now, this scene is so amazing. You see various characters, hanging out at a club and socializing amongst one another. Imagine a dancing Riddler and Mr. Freeze. Yes…THAT happened.
The next couple of pages cuts to the previous evening. Catwoman and Ivy were attempting to break into Dilton’s house when they discover Dee-Dee locked in a room watching re-runs of Sex and the City. In exchange for a girl’s night out (she took Sex and the City to the heart), Dee-Dee was going to take Catwoman and Poison Ivy to where Dilton had been storing his design. This issue ends with the Peacekeepers finding the speakeasy and shooting the club, wounding Catwoman in the process.
The dialogue in the Next Batman was amazing. It kept me wanting to read what was next. Maybe it was the fresh take on Batman, or maybe it was the anticipation of finding out what was going to happen next. In some comics, I simply gaze over the words, not really paying attention. That was not the case in the particular book. Bragas art has a smooth and polished look throughout this story. Lastly, can we talk about the new Batsuit? It seems like the perfect combination of the classic Batsuit and Terry McGinnis’s Batsuit.
Batgirls was a fun read. It gave me throwback vibes to the Harley Quinn series in the early 2000s. Just a fun and relaxing read. I particularly enjoyed the various aspects of detainment life. In a few panels, you see the inmates working out, standing around, and even gossiping. There is a sense of life within this issue. The art is also well detailed. I loved being able to see the muscle definition of Big Barda and the nonchalant look on Jason Todd’s face.
I was not all that impressed with Gotham Sirens. Now do not get me wrong, I LOVE Catwoman and Poison Ivy but there was something missing from this story. The writing seemed bland and clichéd. I mean how many times will Catwoman steal jewelry just because? I feel like she has been developed way past the random trinkets and baubles Catwoman of the Silver Age. But maybe this provides a sense of familiarity for the readers. The one good thing I will give this issue is the Sex and the City & Gotham Sirens similarities. Both series were centered upon a group of female friends and their hijinks within a city. Catwoman is the Samantha/Charlotte of the Sirens while Poison Ivy is the Miranda (Harley would arguably be the Carrie). Hmmm…There should be a full-on Gotham Sirens reboot…But I digress.
All in all, I would pick up this issue SOLELY for the first two stories. You can totally skip Gotham Sirens. Maybe the Sirens will be better in issue three.