Warning! Spoilers ahead for Future State: The Next Batman #4 by John Ridley and Laura Bragaand Future State: Nightwing #2 by Andrew Constant and Nicola Scott!
Even though he was not trained by Bruce Wayne, the new Batman Tim Fox is proving in Future State that he is the original Dark Knight’s perfect successor. It would be understandable if someone read The Next Batman without knowing that the man behind the mask is not Bruce Wayne. Fox seems to espouse all of the same values that Bruce did before his “death” and eventual transformation into the Dark Detective. But Tim’s meeting with Bruce in The Next Batman #3 suggests they didn’t know each other before Future State began, as there is no hint of familiarity between the two and no comment from either of them suggesting they have a shared past. This just proves that this new Batman comes to his new identity naturally.
One of the more obvious examples revealing why he’s the perfect successor transpires in Future State: The Next Batman #4 written by John Ridley with art by Laura Braga. During a high-speed car chase sans the Batmobile, Batman explains the conundrum that he and his two passengers face as a result of them being pursued by humans and not drones: “If we’re fighting people, I have to hold back.” That’s an obvious shoutout to Bruce Wayne’s Golden Rule that Batman must never break: Do not kill.
In Future State: Nightwing #2 written by Andrew Constant with art by Nicola Scott, the next Batman shares his philosophy of being the Dark Knight with Dick Grayson, aka Nightwing. His explanation makes it easy for one to momentarily forget that the man behind the mask is not Bruce. The conversation takes place during the most inopportune time; they are under siege while trapped within Nightwing’s base of operations at Arkham Asylum. Nightwing has just created a way for Bruce’s successor to escape to ensure Gotham will always have what it needs most: A Batman. But Batman refuses, not just because he wants to help, but due to his understanding of what the Dark Knight espouses: “Batman decides who in Gotham needs his help.” And at that moment, it’s Nightwing.
This guy has definitely done his homework. But he’s not done. Far from it. When the dynamic duo later find themselves in an even worse predicament than before, Batman calls Nightwing’s Resistance, which, based on its rather impressive roster, is essentially a more beefed-up version of the Dark Knight’s Bat Family. Batman calling for reinforcements initially angers Nightwing because, as he’s taken on the role of hero and Batman is the sidekick, he believes it wasn’t Batman’s call to make. But then Batman says it: “I also heard what you said about Gotham needing Batman. It needs Batman just as much as its heroes need Nightwing.” Heroes, in this case, obviously means Nightwing‘s Bat Family. Based on this comment alone, this newcomer knows more about what the Bat Family signifies than Batman’s original sidekick.
It seems almost too good to be true that a man such as this one would become Gotham’s bat. But it also reveals something about Bruce Wayne as the symbol of Gotham and the father figure. A man Bruce never trained or made a member of his Bat Family has remarkably come to understand Batman and all that he stands for more than his own “children.” And then there are those whom Bruce took under his wing and utterly failed: Jason Todd, who is hunting masks for the Magistrate in Future State. This just proves that, to people like the new Batman, who only saw the Dark Knight from afar, Bruce was a more effective symbol than a father figure.