Written by Matthew Rosenberg
The “Future State” event, showcasing an alternate possible future, serves as a sampler for a new era of Wildstorm stories throughout the year. In Midnighter’s case, his Future State story is a direct prelude to what will happen in the present through time travel, but Grifter’s story is more of a tone setter and won’t be referenced when we get back to present day. What matters is we get a feel for Matthew Rosenberg’s style on Cole, which is a bit too irreverent and playing the character for a loser for my taste, but I recognise and admire his Wildstorm passion as he imaginatively self promotes his Grifter stories on social media week after week. He had already written about Wildstorm in an issue of Black Canary, so we’ve known he’s a fan for a while.
This story begins with Grifter playing cards in a sleazy Gotham bar in the year 2025, a future where the city is under control of the para-militeary force known as the Magistrate, who have outlawed all masks, and claim to have killed the Batman. Although Cole is using a fake name, he’s still Cole, so gets caught cheating; but he promptly resolves the situation via a knife hidden in his sleeve. What bugs me about this opening is Cole reflects on how nobody would have called him a hero, he just got shit done. I’m not sure I agree with this – Cole was a baddass, but he still was altruistic since the first issue of Wildcats. But regardless. Cole is visited by Police, who expose his real identity and cause everyone in the bar to attack him. Cole flees, which turns the simple police bussiness into Magistrate bussiness, who arrest Cole for being an ex-mask, just to finish their round-up. Cole ends up in the back of a car with Luke Fox, ex-Batwing. Luke pleads Cole to use his contacts and find him a way out of the city, saying he owes the Fox family for what he did to his father. What happened between Cole and Lucius Fox? We’ll learn that in a couple of issues in the present day, in “Batman: Urban Legends.” Cole wants to refuse, but can’t say no to an access card to an untraceable account with fifty thousand dollars. So they escape, but they stumble upon a gang, the Black Mask Syndicate, to whom Cole owes money. Escaping again, Cole reaches his contact who can help Luke escape: Huntress of the Bat-Family! Problem is, Cole was followed by the magistrate, so, again– escape time! This would get repetitive if the dialogue wasn’t so comedic. Huntress’ secret escape route out of Gotham is through the docks, using the Black Mask Syndicate as transportation there. However, they’re so pissed off with Cole that the only way of convincing them is for Cole to hand in his money. This convinces Luke that he’s a good man, and Cole admits he did it for whatever happened with Luke’s father–Lucius–but it’s not nearly enough to pay the debt. When they finally reach the dock, they find an undetectable submarine. However, that’s when they’re raided by the magistrate: turns out it was all an act from Luke to get Huntress arrested! Luke can’t help himself and lets Cole escape to the submarine, but Cole prefers to stay and help Huntress escape, instead. He’s doomed to a life of imprisonment in Blackgate, now, but his conscience is clean. And hey, it’s better than his fate in the Flashpoint alternate future…
Next: “DC Festival of Heroes: The Asian Superhero Celebration” issue 1 and “DC Pride” issue 1