07th Jan2021

‘Future State: Superman of Metropolis #1’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Sean Lewis, Brandon Easton | Art by Various | Published by DC Comics

By all accounts DC have a lot riding on their Future State line of books, which will see print in January and February of this year. DC have essentially replaced their normal DC Universe books with books set in the future, allowing them fresh takes on characters and books. If unsuccessful, I’m sure they’ll tell us it was a bit of fun but not their bread and butter. If successful, as they are hoping, expect to see some new ongoing titles in a new future imprint. As a wise man once said, there’s nothing new under the Sun, so this has all been done in various shapes and sizes down the years of course, but it’s usually highly entertaining stuff. Some of my favourite stories from back in the day were the Mr. and Mrs. Superman stories, set in the then future of Clark and Lois (we were always teased as to whether this was their real future or a possible on of course). So, naturally enough, my first dip of the toes in the Future State pond is the Superman book.

Let’s take a look.

First things first, don’t like that cover. The first issue of any book needs to have an eye-catching cover, and this one’s a bit too flat for me. The book, then, is an anthology, featuring stories featuring future Superman Jonathan Kent, Miracle Man Shilo Norman, and the Metropolis Guardian. We lead off with Jonathan Kent, by Sean Lewis and John Timms, set in a strangely unsettled Metropolis that never really recovered from an attack from Brainiac some years back. An unscrupulous man called Andrej Trojan has since harvested some of Brainiac’s cells into an entity called Brain Cells that he has been using to create an army of followers controlled by himself. Jon realises he is starting to lose control and takes pretty serious action. He shrinks Metropolis a la Kandor into a bottle.

This, as you would expect, annoys the American military. Even more so, it upsets Supergirl herself, Kara. She tracks Jonathan down, demands he releases the city, turns over Brain Cells and steps down as Superman. He refuses, and then Kara attacks. Kara, of course, is pure Kryptonian, so is stronger than Jon, and she is being manipulated by Brain Cells, making her doubly dangerous. Super-fight! Turns out that everyone has been manipulated all along by Brain Cells, a chip off the old Brainiac, and he/ it exits stage left with bottle city Metropolis in toe, Supergirl unconscious, and Jon devastated that he has been shown to be all too human after all.

This leads directly into story two, from Brandon Easton and Valentine de Landro, which focuses on Mister Miracle and the people currently in Metropolis. All they know is a barrier has encircled the city and cut them off from the rest of the world. Shilo does what you would expect from the worlds (current) greatest escape artist, and tries to, er, escape. It’s a short and sweet look in, as Shilo spends his time fighting some mysterious mech’s that don’t want him checking out the barrier too closely. The final story sees The Guardian, also in the shrunk down Metropolis, in a story from Sean Lewis, Cully Hamner, and Michael Avon Oeming. In the six months since the barrier has gone up things have only gotten worse, and Guardian has been Metropolis’s main hero, thanks in part to Jimmy Olsen. This time round he ‘s up against Honest Mary, a terrorist of sorts. It’s another quick and easy tale.

So, three stories that set the scene quite well, but little more. As standalone stories, they are strictly average. Even the Jon Kent one, the best for sure, is over written and over drawn for my taste. The basic story is fine, and the art does have its moments with some nice individual panels, but it just tries to squeeze too much in. Too much dialogue leads to overcrowded panels, and just the feeling of messiness. The Shilo Norman story was fine, but I don’t particularly like the character (I’m a Scott Free fan) and the story was very light. The art was interesting though, quirky, which suited the tome and character. The final story again had its moments, I liked the art well enough, but felt the writing was again a little above average. That was the main issue, none of it stood out particularly, it was just readable. Is that enough?

Would I recommend? I’m on the fence but yes, just. There’s definitely scope for improvement as the story develops, and there’s enough to keep some people happy, but is it the game changing success DC want and need?

Probably not.

***½  3.5/5


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