06th Jul2021

‘DC Future State: Justice League/Superman/Next Batman’ Graphic Novel Review(s)

by Phil Wheat

Following the events of Death Metal andf the Generations two-issue mini-series, DC Future State spotlights the World’s Greatest Super Heroes in fresh new roles – as the title suggests all these new stories take place in the future, with all-new characters taking up their iconic mantles such as Batman, the Justice League, Aquaman, and Batman. Having launched earlier this year, filling the DC Comics schedules at the time, DC have now collected the stories into graphic novels – perfectly timed to coincide with DC’s Infinite Frontier, a soft relaunch of DC canon expanding the DC multiverse into an Omniverse, a new status quo where everything goes; meaning that Batman can be both Bruce Wayne AND Tim Fox, Jonathan and Clark Kent are BOTH Superman and where all the Flash’s exist all at the same time… and more!

Future State: Justice League Vol.1

Written by Various | Art by Various | Published by DC Comics | Format: Paperback, 288pp

Collects Future State: The Flash: Death Race #1-2, Future State: Aquaman 1-2, Future State: Justice League #1-2, and Future State: Green Lantern #1-2; along with the back-up stories from Justice League Dark and Tales From the Green Lantern Corps.

In the far future, our Earth is cut off from the Multiverse, and an all-new Justice League must investigate a string of murders. In this witch hunt terrorizing the DC Universe, the team is scattered and in hiding. Zatanna must round up the remaining magic users who are willing to come out of the shadows and fight the villainous force stalking the supernatural heroes and villains. What will be uncovered, and who is the demonic antihero at the heart of it all?

A collection of a number of stories across a number of different book, Future State: Justice League is exactly what you’d expect… A mixed bag. The Flash 2-parter didn’t work for me, niether did the Aquaman story – which felt too talky and more like a teaser for what is to come (which technically it is). However the Justice League series here is fantastic, exactly what you expect from Joshua Williamson these days. And the Justice League Dark story, from Ram V, is just as good. The Green Lantern main story is, like Aquaman, a bit too dialogue-heavy for me but then there’s plaenty of action to be had from the one-shot tie-ins that are also included here, in particular the Jessica Cruz and Guy Gardner books. Don’t get me wrong this book looks good, really good, at times; unfortunately the stories don’t always live up to the art.

Future State: Superman Vol.1

Written by Various | Art by Various | Published by DC Comics | Format: Paperback, 456pp

Collects Future State: Superman of Metropolis #1-2, Future State: Worlds at War #1-2, Future State: Superman vs. Imperious Lex #1-2, Future State: Kara Zor-El, Superwoman #1-2, Future State: Legion 5000 #1-2, and Future State: House of El #1.

With Clark Kent on the distant planet Warworld, fighting for his life and the freedom of others, Jonathan Kent is trying to fill the super-sized shoes left behind. And what decision will Jonathan Kent make that attracts the attention of his cousin, Kara Zor-El, a.k.a. Supergirl?

Much like the collected Justice League book, Future State: Superman is a varied affair. The highlight here is Superman vs. Imperious Lex, which doesn’t actually jump as far ahead as some of the other Future State books – just far enough to have Superman more than wise old man type. The story is that Lex Luthor now has his own planet, ruling with a PR-spinning thumb a la a certain former US President. It’s a wry tale that reflects a lot of what was happening in the US at the time. Unfortunately the rest of the book does not fare as well. Worlds at War was a great concept but let down by the execution, as is Superman of Metropolis – which does nothing for the character of Jon Kent and feels world apart from the well-received Super Sons. It’s a new status quo here that also, compared to the rest of these Future State books, also pays homage to more of the stories and characters of the past – and any book that sees Lex Luthor get back into his green and purple warsuit is well worth a read!

Future State: The Next Batman Vol.1

Written by Various | Art by Various | Published by DC Comics | Format: Paperback, 368pp

Collects Future State: The Next Batman #1-4; Future State: Dark Detective #1 & 3; Future State: Nightwing #1-2. Along with the back-up stories featured in the original books, featuring Gotham City Sirens, Batgirl, Grifter and the Outsiders.

The DC timeline has been shattered, and the pieces of a dark possible “Future State” are reflected! Giant, sprawling future Gotham City is under martial law, protected and regulated by a private security force led by the infamous Peacekeepers. Their mandate is to maintain the safety of the citizens of Gotham, regardless of any Constitutional rights, and to hunt down, incarcerate, or kill all masked vigilantes, villains, and criminals in the city limits. It’s a dangerous and violent look at a possible future Gotham City and the heroes and villains who live there!

Surprise, surprise, much like Death Metal revolved around the many incarnations of Batman, Future State seems to have been made to give us an all-new Batman. Of all three Future State books on review here it seems Future State: The Next Batman is most suited to the bleak, dark future presented in many of these future-DC universe stories. The Next Batman features Tim Fox, son of Lucious Fox (aka Batman’s tech-savvy friend), take up the mantel of Batman in a Gotham than is under the control the Magistrate, ruling the city with an iron fist – making this Batman even more needed than ever before; and changing Batman from a rich white guy using his money to be a hero is probably the greatest development for the character EVER.

If The Next Batman is all about showing a new side to Batman and Gotham and how their relationship now works in a future time, Nightwing is all about action and lots of it – as Nightwing takes on the Peacemakers in a fast-paced tale that sees the character leading much more of a resistance against Gotham’s oppressors, all the while trying to figure out the new dynamic with Tim Fox’s Batman. Speaking of Batman, we do get two issues of Batman: The Dark Detective here – which focus more on an older Bruce Wayne trying to stay OUT of the spotlight whilst trying to help both the new Batman and Nightwing take on the Magistrate. Again, Future State was [unsurprisingly] made for Batman, the heart of DC Comics, and it shows in this book.
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Future State: Justice League, Future State: Superman and Future State: The Next Batman are all out now from DC Comics.

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