This article contains spoilers for Future State: Nightwing #1 by Andrew Constant and Nicola Scott.
DC Comics has just hinted at why Gotham City has turned against Batman in its Future State initiative. DC’s Future State has introduced readers to what it claims is the definitive future of the DC Universe. It introduces a world in which Diana has been replaced as Wonder Woman, Superman’s son has taken over as defender of Metropolis, and Gotham City has turned into a fascist dystopia policed by a brutal force called the Magistrate.
There have been signs of this future building in recent Batman comics, which have seen Gotham City reeling from the Joker War. The city has elected a former police officer, Christopher Nakano, as mayor, a man who has stood on an anti-vigilante ticket, and is surprisingly moral, having refused the opportunity to form an illicit alliance against Batman. Nakano is still mayor in Future State, but it seems his election didn’t usher in a time of peace and prosperity for Gotham after all. What went wrong?
An answer is finally offered in Future State: Nightwing #1, by Andrew Constant and Nicola Scott. Nightwing has based himself at Arkham Asylum, confident the Magistrate would never look for him there. “What happened on A-Day,” Nightwing reflects, explaining to the new Batman why he’s settled at Arkham, “No one expects you to choose to live in the shadow of such horror.“
It seems Joker War wasn’t the cause of the Magistrate’s rise to power after all. Something happened at Arkham Asylum, some tragedy that was essentially the final straw for Gotham. Given Mayor Nakano is a moral man, it’s reasonable to assume things escalated at unprecedented speed, with decisions made at haste that will define Gotham City for decades. Presumably this involves the Bat-family – and will be swiftly seen when Future State is over and the normal comic book line resumes.
It’s likely A-Day has something to do with Ghost Hunter, an old associate of Batman’s who has been welcomed into the Bat-family. Ghost Hunter is brash and arrogant, convinced of his own prowess, but he’s already proven to be no Batman, no tactical thinker. He’s also mysteriously absent from DC’s Future State so far, suggesting he is deeply involved with A-Day – and, perhaps, didn’t make it out of the tragedy alive. If this is indeed the case, then Batman’s willingness to welcome Ghost Maker to Gotham at this time will prove to be a fatal error – one that transforms his city forever.