In Future State: Dark Detective #3, Bruce Wayne’s investigation into the Magistrate leads him to cross paths with the dark timeline’s next Batman.

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Future State: Dark Detective #3 by Mariko Tamaki, Dan Mora, Jordie Bellaire, and Aditya Bidikar, on sale now.

DC’s Future State has taken readers into a dark, alternate future world of the DC Universe where everything is different. This dystopian era’s version of Gotham City is now a futuristic metropolis that is policed by the Magistrate, a military-like force comprised of drones, robots, soldiers and Peacekeepers whose purpose is to hunt down anyone who puts on a mask — be they supervillains, or superheroes.

For the past several weeks, two different Batmen have been fighting back against the Magistrate: Bruce Wayne, believed dead by the authorities and now operating as a Dark Detective, and Jace Fox, the Next Batman. Ever since the start of Future State, these two characters have been acting independently of one another. But now, in Future State: Dark Detective #3, the two finally cross paths.

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Bruce Wayne Tim Jace Fox Batman

With vigilantes now outlawed in Gotham City, the Bat-Family was essentially disbanded. Some members were locked up, while others started fighting as part of a resistance. Bruce Wayne was shot by Peacekeeper-01, and both he and his alter-ego Batman are believed dead by the Magistrate. With no more fortune and without his arsenal of weapons, gadgets and vehicles, Bruce has suited up with bits and pieces of armor as the Dark Detective, and he has made it his mission to tear down the Magistrate and free Gotham from its tyranny.

Meanwhile, Tim “Jace” Fox now has access to Batman’s technology and suits. As the Next Batman, Jace has taken it upon himself to enforce justice in Gotham, and he has a new Batman armor and plenty of useful gadgets to help in this crusade. One of these Batmen is focused on the Magistrate, while the other is there for the people.

In Future State: Dark Detective #3, Bruce Wayne continues to investigate the tech companies that fund the Magistrate, and the micro-surveillance technology he has unearthed. It’s while trying to learn more about this technology that he is eventually attacked by the Magistrate’s drones. Bruce destroys the machines coming for him, but another sneaks up behind him. Only, before it can shoot him, it’s destroyed by the Next Batman, who manages to save Bruce from the Magistrate just in time.

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Batman Dark Detective Meeting Future State Bruce Wayne Jace Fox

What is perhaps most surprising about the meeting between these two vigilantes is that neither seems abundantly aware of the other. Both ask the other who they are, and both give as vague an answer as they can. Of course, thanks to the Bat-emblem on their chests, they each recognize the other as Batman. However, Bruce reluctantly sees Jace as his successor, while the Next Batman demonstrates powerful authority. Jace doesn’t recognize the Dark Detective as Bruce Wayne, or the original Batman. To him, he’s just another masked vigilante with a patched-up suit, someone likely to get killed by the Magistrate.

The meeting between the two is brief, and both superheroes remain masked the entire time.  Before they go their separate ways, Jace instructs Bruce to hang up his cowl, and it doesn’t appear to be a suggestion. In answer, Bruce only says that he invented that line, as he walks away.

Perhaps surprisingly, the two Batmen don’t trade punches upon meeting one another. They might be taken by surprise, and they might not exactly approve of each other, but both realize that they are acting in the same interests. Given the heated conversation between the two, it’s certainly possible that, should they meet again, the two Batmen will fight one another, especially when Jace realizes Bruce didn’t listen to him. But hopefully, they will eventually realize that they stand a better chance of defeating the Magistrate by working together.

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