WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Nightwing #86, on sale now from DC Comics.
For months, Gotham City has steadily fallen under the totalitarian control of Simon Saint's Magistrate as he attempts to turn the city into a heavy-handed police state. First teased during Future State, the private police force rose to power after the Gotham municipal government disavowed its tolerance towards Batman and the Bat-Family following the cataclysmic events of "Joker War." In the crossover event "Fear State," Dick Grayson, aka Nightwing, leads his old friends to finally turn the tables on the Magistrate by gaining access to some high-powered upgrades in their quest to retake their city.
To enforce his rise to power as the Magistrate, Simon Saint dedicated his multi-billion dollar fortune towards creating a private army of mechanized troops designed to eliminate all vigilante activity in Gotham. Coupled with an advanced surveillance system operating out of the Magistrate's base hovering over the city, Saint effectively had eyes and ears across the entire city and his own personal hit squad to carry out his agenda. After nearly falling into a trap, Grayson launches an ambush of his own on the Magistrate's forces in Nightwing #86 (by Tom Taylor, Robbi Rodriguez, Adriano Lucas and Wes Abbott).
After enduring an explosive loss at the hands of their enemies, Nightwing leads his allies in taking the fight directly to the Magistrate. Luring a squad of mechanized troops into a nearby alley, the Bat-Family skillfully incapacitates their pursuers and take their armor, using it to fly up the Magistrate's floating fortress and bring down the police state from within. While the Bat-Family is used to having some of the most advanced gadgets and vehicles in the DC Universe, former Robin Spoiler is impressed by their armored new digs, quipping that the heroes should seriously consider adding jetpacks to their usual arsenal moving forward.
This isn't the first time that the Bat-Family has employed mechanized armor or even sentry robots in order to defend Gotham City. Batman employed a heavily armed and armored power suit to combat Superman in Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, with this confrontation and armored approach inspiring the Caped Crusader's arsenal in 2016's Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. In the Elseworlds tale Kingdom Come, Batman similarly used an exo-suit to move his broken body around while employing his own army of sentry robots throughout the city.
Of course, in that story, it's arguable whether those sentries are actually ethical in their use, given the issues with privacy and surveillance they automatically raise. The Bat-Family is of course justified in using these weapons against their maker, but in less safe hands -- or minds driving them -- this could become a very dangerous situation.
"Future State" teased an alternate vision of Gotham where the Magistrate was still very much in control of the city years into the future, with the Bat-Family hunted relentlessly throughout the city.
With Nightwing leading his allies to turn Saint's greatest weapons against him and topple the self-appointed tyrant, it appears this alternate future may fall by the wayside as the Bat-Family retakes their city from the police state. Although the fight to quell "Fear State" isn't over quite yet, the heroes have just scored a major and much-needed victory.
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