In DC’s Future, the next Batman has been branded a villain, and his supposed crime is very similar to one of Joker’s most iconic acts of terrorism.
Warning! Spoilers for Future State: Gotham #1
Batman and Joker have one of the most iconic rivalries in comic book history, in part because the characters are so radically different from one another. However, in DC’s Future State, the line between the two has all but disappeared.
In Future State: Gotham #1, a massive explosion rocks the city, leaving behind a gigantic crater in the shape of a bat. What’s more is security footage evidently shows the new Batman, Tim Fox, breaking into a water treatment facility in the Narrows, one of the sketchier parts of Gotham. The facility would have given Batman access to the city’s water supply to create the explosion. With such damning evidence, the public has officially labeled Batman a domestic terrorist, leading the Magistrate to enlist Red Hood to hunt the Bat-Family down. While it’s unclear as of yet if Tim actually had anything to do with the attack, the people now see him as less like Batman and more like the Joker – and the comparison is more accurate than fans might think.
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For starters, using a water treatment facility to initiate a terrorist attack is a move taken directly from the Joker’s playbook. Batman: The Man Who Laughs by Ed Brubaker and Doug Mahnke is a retelling of Batman’s first encounter with the Joker, in which the Clown Prince of Crime attempts to poison the entire city’s water supply with his Joker toxin. While the Dark Knight managed to stop him, the people of Gotham will surely remember Joker’s iconic first attempt at terrorizing the city, so the new Batman supposedly using a water supply for a similar purpose immediately makes him seem all the more villainous. However, there is also another, deeper link between the two.
While the people wholeheartedly believe that Batman caused the deadly explosion, readers know that something is a little fishy. In all likelihood, the Magistrate played a role in framing Batman to ruin his public perception. The water supply was likely meant to elicit an association with the Joker, making the narrative of Batman being a villain easier to sell. However, on a certain level, the new Batman’s fight against the Magistrate does mirror the Joker’s desire to disrupt the established order. Joker’s evil acts are meant to propagate anarchy and show people how false their sense of security is. While the new Batman isn’t an anarchist, he is actively trying to overthrow the city’s current form of government and prove to the people that they are better off without it.
Given the baseline similarities, convincing the public that Batman is essentially the new Joker is easy for Future State’s evil army. However, while their fights may seem identical on paper, the important distinction is that Batman is fighting against an order of oppression, whereas the Joker fought against order itself. With any luck, the people of Gotham will be made aware of that truth before it’s too late.
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