As DC continues to roll out the Future State event, they’ve been teasing the 4-issue miniseries Future State: The Next Batman, by John Ridley, Nick Derington and Laura Braga. Which raises the question: who is this NEXT Batman? It’s been known for a while that Oscar-winner Ridley would be introducing a person of color as Batman, but the exact identity of the character hadn’t been known.
Until now. The variant cover for issue #2 by Doug Braithwaite and Diego Rodriguez (above) confirms that it is Tim “Jace” Fox, the estranged son of Batman’s business consigliere, Lucius Fox, and brother to a former Batwing, Luke Fox. The idea of a son of Lucius Fox being the first Black Batman has been floated for a while, but many observers thought it would be Luke.
However, recent hints and mentions pointed to Lucius’s lesser known child, Tim, donning the cowl.
Created by Len Wein & Irv Novick, Tim Fox’s first appearance was in Batman #313 from April 10, 1979, below, where his father fretted about his attention to schoolwork.
Over a handful of appearances Tim continued to clash with his father, and joined a local gang after they convinced him that Bruce Wayne was a slumlord. After learning the gang was under the control of one of Wayne’s biggest business rivals, Tim left the gang and reconciled with his father. Tim would only appear a few times again following that storyline, with his most recent appearance being 2011’s DC Retroactive: Batman – The ’70s one-shot. In the Wein-written tale, set during his original Batman run, Tim joins with a new iteration of The Terrible Trio.
Several hints have been dropped of late regarding Tim’s return, though, including a portentous mention in the Ridley-penned “Family Ties,” a story drawn by Olivier Coipel, from the Batman: The Joker War Zone anthology, below.
And in October, Batman and Lucius Fox had an even more foreshadowing conversation in Batman #101, where “even calling in Timothy” showed just how important getting the family together was for Lucius. With the Fox family now in control of the former Wayne fortune following the events of “Joker War,” Tim Fox’s Batman should be just as well-bankrolled as his predecessor.
Now we know that Timothy is coming back and taking part in a milestone for the DC universe as the first Black man to become the iconic Batman. Writer Ridley has been quite successful in exploring the racial subtext of the DC Universe, most recently in The Other History of the DC Universe, which views DC chronology from the viewpoint of characters from traditionally marginalized groups.
Future State: The Next Batman will debut on Tuesday, January 5, 2021 as a 64-page comic featuring back-up stories about other Batverse characters, with issues shipping every two weeks. The back-up line-up is as follows:
- Future State: Arkham Knights, by Paul Jenkins and Jack Herbert (issues #1 and #3)
- Future State: Outsiders, by Brandon Thomas and Sumit Kumar (issues #1 and #3)
- Future State: Batgirls, by Vita Ayala and Aneke (issues #2 and #4)
- Future State: Gotham City Sirens, by Paula Sevenbergen and Emanuela Lupacchino (issues #2 and #4)
Although The Next Batman is only four issues long, it will not be the end of Tim Fox in the DCU, as he will return in February in a story by Ridley and Coipel in the Batman: Black & White anthology series, where he gets a sidekick.
Future State is a two-month “event” of sorts that will see all kinds of new characters and new creative teams in the DCU. It’s a repurposing of some of the radical upheavals that were planned for the big 5G relaunch that was scrubbed after months and months of work on former publisher Dan DiDio’s wall. The storyline is set in a grim future where an oppressive oligarch known as the Magistrate rules with an iron fist.