With the launch of DC Future State last week, we were introduced to Gotham’s newest—or should we say, next Batman in the John Ridley and Nick Derington series of the same name. But what about the original? What’s going on with Bruce Wayne?

Well, that’s simple. He’s dead.

At least, that’s what everyone thinks. As the oppressive Magistrate keeps a tight grip on the city, outlawing masked vigilantes and rounding them up in citywide crackdowns, Gotham’s most famous caped crusader has been declared dead. Days later, the man behind the cowl is publicly shot and presumed killed as well, taking both Bruce and his infamous alter-ego off the board.

Or maybe not. After all, there’s a lot of freedom in being presumed dead, and Bruce…well, he’s not the sort of person who takes anything lying down, especially not in a coffin. Future State: Dark Detective is the event’s second core Batman title, offering a stripped down, gritty look at how a near-beaten and fully broke Bruce Wayne rages against the machinery of this nightmarish new Gotham. Written by Wonder Woman and Detective Comics writer Mariko Tamaki and drawn by Dan Mora, it’s a series that promises to get to the core of who Bruce and Batman are and that reminds us that even when you’re at your lowest, you’re never out of the fight.

We recently spoke with Tamaki about her work on this just released new miniseries (issue #1 also includes a Grifter and Batwing-starring backup story by Matthew Rosenberg and Carmine di Giandomenico) and what we can expect from it going forward. In short, things for Bruce and Gotham may not be looking so bright…but it’s in the darkness that bats are at their best.

Bruce Wayne has fought all of his life for Gotham. He can’t be at all happy seeing it fall under an authoritative regime like the Magistrate. What effect will that have on him?

I feel like Bruce and Gotham have had a very unhealthy but symbiotic relationship up until now. Even from Wayne Manor, Bruce was always a part of the lifeblood of Gotham by merit of trying to save it and its citizens all the time. And now Gotham has this new authority that Bruce knows is poisonous. It’s probably something like greeting your new stepdad at the door, only your stepdad is a dictatorial robot that wants to take away everyone’s freedom.

When Future State: Dark Detective begins, Batman and Bruce Wayne are both thought to be dead. Is there freedom in that for Bruce?

It’s a bit of an odd twist to have spent your justice fighting career hiding in persona and then have BOTH of them “killed.” It’s like having the backup generator go with the grid. I think on the one hand, it’s convenient because the slate is wiped clean and Bruce IS free to make choices unconnected to both Bruce Wayne and Batman. On the other hand, the problems Batman and Bruce had are still at play, the choices they made when they were “alive” are going to haunt “dead” Bruce. And now he has to figure out how to deal with them in new ways. 

In this future, the Wayne fortune is gone. Bruce can’t rely on his unlimited financial resources to take on the Magistrate. How will he compensate for that?

He’s making a few compromises. Taking up some very different living conditions.  

Bruce is very much alone at the start of the story. Will he stay that way? Who might we see helping him along the way?

Bruce is very much alone in this story, while also finding out that he is in no way alone. He’s going to be surrounded by people who don’t work for him while watching the world he was a part of make choices that could destroy the city he loves.

This book is absolutely gorgeous. What’s it been like seeing Dan Mora’s pages come in? Were you familiar with his art before now?

DAN. MORA. IS. AMAZING. I was not. But people whose opinions in comics I value greatly were OBSESSED with him, so I was very excited to get to work with him on “A Gift” for Detective Comics #1027. He is SO good. I love his action shots. I love how atmospheric and gritty he makes everything.  I am obsessed with the spaces he’s created in this comic and the character designs. The whole bit. He’s amazing. I am very lucky to get to work with him.

Along with Bruce, there’s a new Batman in Gotham. Will we see the two interact? What do you think Bruce thinks of him?

Suffice to say, based on the context of their meeting and what a new Batman would have to say to Bruce, it’s possible Bruce would have…a gruff response.

Is there anything good about Gotham in the future?

I mean. It’s still there. That’s good.

Future State: Dark Detective by Mariko Tamaki, Dan Mora, Jordie Bellaire and others is now available in print and as a digital comic.