In January 2021, DC Comics launched Future State, a two-month publishing initiative that features a possible future of the DC Multiverse. One of the most highly-anticipated titles has been Future State: The Next Batman, which introduces the future Dark Knight.
The identity of the Next Batman was a heavily-guarded secret, but DC and The Next Batman writer, Oscar-winner John Ridley did hint that he would be a person of color. DC officially announced Lucius Fox’s son, Tim Fox to be the Batman in early December, by debuting a variant cover of Fox unmasking atop a Gotham building. While Bruce Wayne has donned the mantle of the Caped Crusader for over 80 years as one of DCs flagship heroes, the next hero to don Batman’s cowl, Tim Fox, a black man who has proven that he is just as hardcore as his predecessor Bruce Wayne in Future State has been considered by the readers as a step in the right direction for representation of diverse ethnicities.
The writer of this series of comic books, John Ridley, is also a person of colour. Fox first appeared as a character in Batman in 1979. In the most recent Batman storyline, his father Lucius acquired the Wayne fortune and technology. Fox made his first appearance as Batman in the four-issue Future State: The Next Batman in January, with his story to continue – with a new sidekick – in February in the Batman: Black & White anthology series. For the first time ever, someone outside of the Wayne family and Bat-family took up the cape and cowl for the long-run.
We have seen new characters taking up the mantles of the comic publisher’s key characters as a part of the two-month event called ‘DC Future State’. Along with Batman, Clark Kent has also been replaced as Superman by his son Jon, and Yara Flor, the daughter of an Amazon and a Brazilian river god, becomes Wonder Woman.
In a new preview for an upcoming issue of DC Comics’ Future State: Dark Detective, the two Dark Knights will collide. While Gotham and the rest of the world may believe that Bruce Wayne is dead, Wayne merely faked his own death after his attempted murder at the hands of the Magistrate. Now, he has been reborn as the Dark Detective, working in the shadows to unravel the Magistrate’s fascist hold over his city. However, it looks as though his latest investigation will bring him face to face with Jace Fox (Tim Fox), who took over Batman’s mantle in Wayne’s absence.
The ongoing Future State initiative from DC is exploring the potential futures for scores of its legacy characters, some in the not-too-distant future (like the Batman and Harley Quinn titles), while others take place eons from today.
DC has further announced that not only will Fox appear in Batman: Black and White #3, releasing 23 February 2021, but that very same day, we’ll see the launch of the new miniseries that will then release on a weekly basis. Like Future State: The Next Batman, Fox’s adventures will continue in Next Batman: Second Son which will again be penned by the Academy Award-winning writer John Ridley and will feature art from Tony Akins, Travel Foreman and Mark Morales. The series will explore the origins of Fox’s Batman, how he connects to the larger DC universe and will focus largely on his strained relationship with his family. The first three chapters of the digital comics will be collected in a print edition scheduled to release 6 April 2021.
In a recent interview with Global News, Ridley shared that he was thrilled to help in the evolution of a character into one for his kids and other kids of colour who love the stories but have not often seen themselves in them. He said, “There are people who love the story but don’t quite see themselves in stories, that means the most to me.” He agreed that with the introduction of a black Batman, it’ll become easier for people of colour to see themselves in the character they’ve been following. People can relate with the content they watch or read when it reflects a part of their own image.
With this character, Ridley wants readers to go beyond skin colour, as a story is less about a character’s race and more about his experiences as an individual. He suggests that diversity among creators is also necessary to help make the characters more realistic. Though he believes there is room for improvement, he sees changes for the better.
He concluded by saying, “There is a desire to have characters that are more reflective of the world that we live in and that the comic book industry still has a long way to go in improving its diversity.”