It’s 2021, a brand new year, and a brand new era for DC Comics. Future state is a line-wide slate of titles examining the near and far future of the DC universe and it’s heroes. Spinning out of the finale of Dark Nights Death Metal #7, this event puts familiar heroes like Diana, Clark, and Bruce, in all new roles, while handing the mantle of Trinity over to a new Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman Trinity.
According to DC:
DC Future State will take you on a journey from the near future to the end of time to witness the destinies of heroes like Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, the Justice League, the Teen Titans, and so many more.
What will change? For starters, our big three—Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman—will tackle unexpected new roles even as younger heroes take their places. Some will find themselves in new, hostile territory; others will see their heroic missions turned upside down.
Below I give my quick, honest opinion about each title as they come out. I wish I had time to go into depth about each one, but I’m dedicated to providing at least a paragraph letting you know if each issue is a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Let’s jump in!
Releasing January 5, 2021
Future State: The Next Batman #1: This issue clocked in on the longer side of issues released this week at 63 whopping pages. Those pages ranged from interesting, to passable, to a real slog to read through. The issue is broken down into three stories set in a futuristic Gotham where a for-profit corporation has taken over law enforcement and masks are strictly outlawed, with a shoot-on-site order for all masked or cowled suspects.
Next Batman: This story had relatively little for me to complain about in it. As the final page states “[T]he more things change…the more they stay the same.” I found this to be true because, although we have a brand new person in the cowl who isn’t Bruce Wayne, this story is pretty classic Batman. He battles street-level masked thugs, and evades law enforcement who oppose his vigilante justice. Only now that law enforcement is a corporation. No new tech or futuristic aspects to this story really, he simply uses a batarang and his grappling gun. So, no, nothing to complain about, but also nothing stunning. That is, other than the art. As a massive Francesco Francavilla fan, I love anybody with a similar style and Derington’s moody inks paired with Bonvillain’s bright colors gave this story an enjoyable balance between New 52 Batman and the Timm-verse.
Outsiders: This story grew on me. It opens with Duke Thomas shuttling people outside of Gotham’s borders, outside the “Magistrate’s” control. They run into Katana who takes the story from there. There’s a lot of great ninja-style sword action mixed with futuristic jetpacks and the like, topped off with an incredible side-scroller two-page splash. This was probably the strongest of the three stories.
Arkham Knights: Arkham Knights follows a new team of former Arkham Asylum inmates led by Astrid Arkham. Astrid Arkham wears some sort of uber patriotic Captain Bat-Merica suit. In all honesty, I found the narration to be a bit over-the-top, repetitive, and heavy-handed. They are the heralds of personal liberty and what-not and will bring about constitutional justice and defeat the hand of the oppressor type of stuff. It would have been fine, but things like that were stated not once, but over and over again. The Arkham Knights are laying low at the abandoned Wayne Manor. Seems….conspicuous. In the end I was left with a very 90s flavor and not in a fuzzy nostalgic way. It felt like the worst that Marvel’s 2099 initiative had to offer, just with less pouches.
Future State: Swamp Thing #1: I’ll admit up front that I’m a little biased towards Swamp Thing. I have no personal connection to the swamps of the deep south, but I just enjoy him as a unique character (ok, barring Man-Thing). This issue is an interesting re-visit to Alan Moore’s classic “The Anatomy Lesson” (Vol. 2 #21).
Swampy has created a population of flora-based sentient life forms to occupy a post-human world. It seems this takes place in a much more distant future than the other human-based Future State titles out this week. At any rate, this issue was an enjoyable read in its own right with interesting observations about these avatars’ physiology and beautiful art to match. We’ll see where it goes from the final pages and their reveals, but off to a good start.
Future State: The Flash #1: Yikes. When Flash is done well, he’s a really compelling character. As a lifelong runner and vicarious lover of incredibly fast people (I’m an Usain Bolt fan over Tyson Gay, personally), what’s not to love about the Flash? This issue gets into some of the more campy aspects of the Flash mythos, though. It’s heavy on the Speed Force, light on the explanations, and a bit cringe-worthy to read. At the outset, the Speedsters have all lost their connection to the Speed Force. Ok, so nobody’s moving faster than your average human. Not what I would call interesting. To compensate, the Speedsters have stolen all the silliest weapons that all of their silliest rogues have ever used against them. It culminates in the Speedsters stealing Devoe’s Thinking Cap off the Calculator. Sigh. It gets
better worse. Barry then adapts the Thinking Cap technology with…er….science and distributes them to the Speedsters to use during meditation. Yep. All this is to track down Wally who has stolen all the Speed Force. They basically mentally project into the Speed Force to confront him. In the end, there are way too many silly, campy elements from the Flash’s past to take this issue seriously and halfway through you feel like giving up.
Future State: Harley Quinn #1: The concept here isn’t terrible. We’re in the same Gotham controlled by the Magistrate as in the Next Batman Future State series. Harley is adrift without Joker and she gets caught, but not shot. In a spin on Suicide Squad, she’s brought on as a sort of consultant for Crane’s operation to capture notorious villains. Again, this is promising. If I had a complaint, it’s the art. While not bad, and certainly pretty to look at, it’s far too stylized to successfully communicate the action you are supposed to be reading from the illustrations. While yes, comic art needs to look good, it also does double duty and has to communicate motion and actions. The juxtaposed deep shadows with saturated, back-lit, neon wash out makes nearly all the action sequences unintelligible. It’s a shame that all of the fight sequences and action panels were just suggestions of what was happening and that the majority needed to be filled in from my lacking imagination. The narrow panel layouts did not help communicate the action either.
Future State: Wonder Woman #1: Joelle Jones’ art throughout this book is simply superb. Smooth, clean, polished, and vibrant. It even has the added touch of some halftone dot printing to give it that vintage comic book pulpy feel. Jones characterizes our new Wonder Woman nicely in the first scenes of this book. She’s feisty and independent and on a mission to save a loved one from Hades. Where I got some whiplash was when were actually made it to Hades. It turns out Hades is an annoying little bus terminal run by lowly demons grumbling about Mondays. I didn’t expect this book to take a humorous turn and that’s on me. I should have seen it coming when Wonder Woman was screaming for “JERRY!”
I just felt that the Gaiman/Sandman-esque afterlife humor didn’t connect with me. I’ll give this a chance to grow on me and won’t write it off. Cerberus thundering into the picture was an epic addition and I’m interested to see how WW crosses Styx.
Superman of Metropolis (story 1 inside): Sean Lewis writes the set up for the entire status quo of Metropolis. Much like Gotham, Metropolis has become a dystopia, or at least it’s on the verge of that. Jon Kent wants to prevent that, so he miniaturizes and bottles up the whole city. It seems like a good idea until it isn’t. It’s honestly an intriguing twist on an old Superman concept and leads to some unexpected butting of heads. The John Timms art is top-notch and ready for prime time.
Mister Miracle in the Metropolis Menagerie (Story 2): Mister Miracle, Shilo Norman, is trying to unravel the mystery behind the glass surrounding Metropolis. Those inside aren’t aware they’ve been shrunk. They just know Superman disappeared and there’s a glass border around their city. Brandon Easton sets up an interesting conflict where Mister Miracle’s Mother Box has been deprived of power and is verging on the precipice of shut down. Valentine de Landro provides a signature stylized pallete and form to his art which is a little more abstract than the preceding story, but doesn’t detract from the story. Rather, it gives the tale its own vibe. The art won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, but at least it doesn’t distract like the art in Harley Quinn.
The Guardian (Story 3): Another tale inside the bottled city. The Guardian is trying to cool the population’s temperature as a domestic terror campaign emerges inside the city. It’s a relatable situation to those of us living through the pandemic lockdowns. The art is akin to watching a Timm-verse Batman Adventure.
All total, I think Superman of Metropolis set up a more interesting premise than The Next Batman and I’m interested in seeing where it goes in issue #2.
Releasing January 12, 2021
Future State: Kara Zor-El Superwoman #1: I didn’t expect to like this, but it was really impressive. Whereas much of comic art is inked in black and colors and shading inserted after, it looks like the art inside this book took an entirely different creative path. It somehow manages to remain intricate while giving a soft, watercolor impression at the same time. Many of the lines that would otherwise be inked in black by another artist are re-thought in darker hues of the interior colors. It’s very different and I loved it. It may not be everybody’s cup of tea, and it definitely differs from the comic norm, but I thought it was all for the better. Kudos to Marguerite Sauvage! The art was by no means monotone, either. A stain glass page breaks up the style and emojis written into the speech balloons break the barrier between art and lettering. Truly creative stuff happening in this book.
The other Marguerite on the book, Bennett, writes a tale of self-reflection and searching for Kara. Kara remembers the late, great Krypto and all the lessons he taught her. She mourns the rage she felt at what she believed to be a usurped mantle held by Clark Kent, and then Jon. She’s since found some peace on the newly established moon colony and has vowed to keep and preserve that peace. This is all explained through Kara’s interactions with a new character who first appears in this book, Lynari Lili’alo. As the circle of life happens to work, Kara is now re-learning the lessons from Krypto by teaching them to this new protégé of hers. What could otherwise have been a chore of exposition was skillyfully woven into the montage splash page below. Midway through reading that page, I thought to myself “wow, this is a lot of info!” I didn’t feel overwhelmed or like I was losing any pace in the comic, though. That impressive double-page splash alone maintained the enjoyment that was building through the rest of the book. Naturally, Kara’s peaceful ideals are tested by the end of the book and therein lies the interesting conflict that we’ll have to return to see resolved!
All in all, this is a product the creators should be extremely proud of. So far, a shining bright spot in the Future State releases!
Future State: Dark Detective #1: In the main story for Dark Detective, Mariko Tamaki, pens a tale where both Bruce Wayne and Batman, as seen as two separate people entirely, are dead…at least according to the public at large and Magistrate (see Next Batman above for the dystopian corporate law enforcement that is Gotham’s current status quo. Dan Mora’s art is effective, gritty, and fitting of the story. Colors are hued in shades of purple and blue throughout giving a futuristic impression to Gotham while off-setting the classic Gotham grittiness conveyed by Mora’s line work. Gotham still has dark alleys, they’re just lit by neon now.
The story was more intriguing to me than the first installment of Next Batman, but I was still left with questions. Peacekeeper-01 publicly announced Batman’s death even while personally witnessing a maskless Bruce Wayne escaping with a survivable gunshot wound to the stomach. Meanwhile, Magistrate drones observe Bruce Wayne intervene in a mugging and then escape pulling a cowl over his face. The only assumption I can make is that Magistrate is aware of Bruce’s secret identity, while wanting to keep it quiet from Gotham’s public.
This was a riveting read about Bruce eeking out an existence on the margins of the new Gotham. It still left a lot of questions unanswered, but I hope that’s what the next 3 issues are for.
Grifters (second story): Matthew Rosenberg writes and appropriately self-interested Cole Cash with meticulous details drawn by Carmine Di Giandomenico. This was a fast-paced romp through an ad hoc plan to escape Gotham, instigated by Fox Jr. However implausible the duo’s escapes from legions of machine guns are, the story was enjoyable and tied in nicely to the Katana story we saw in Next Batman- at least regarding Magistrate’s jurisdictional limits.
Future State: Superman/Wonder Woman #1: This issue follows the new Superman, Jon Kent, and the new Wonder Woman Yara. Yara is based in Brazil and appears to be mostly fighting to defeat the inequities between the haves and have nots. Jon is trying is level best to hold up the mantle of Clark Kent. Both heroes have their day interrupted by the appearance of a second sun in the sky. It’s not a second sun, though, it’s Solaris. It seems that whereas Diana’s pantheon of gods is Greek, it appears Yara’s hail from the Brazilian Amazon. Kuat and Iae, the Sun God and Moon God, respectively, are her roommates. Kuat, obviously, takes exception to a second sun arriving in his domain and heads out to confront him. In the end, the whole ordeal ends in a stalemate, but not without consequences. Jon wakes up the next day too worn down to perform his tasks protecting Metropolis.
This was an enjoyable introduction to our two new Trinity members, but it didn’t seem to be too impactful in itself. I’m wondering how it’s going to wrap with one issue left. The art was bright and bold, even if Jon was a little off-model with the wide-set face.
I have a feeling this takes place before Superman of Metropolis (because Metropolis is not yet in a bottle) and before the Wonder Woman standalone title (as we do not yet know which friend she is trying to rescue from Hades over there).
Future State: Robin Eternal #1: This, strangely enough, feels like the most Batman-esque title in the new dystopian status quo of Gotham. While Wayne and Fox are dealing with Peacekeepers down on the ground level, Robin’s trying to take down the drones and other “cybers” enforcing the Magistrate’s will. Of course, Robin needs help, and it becomes a team-up.
The most creative section of this book was the use of ASL as a means to circumvent eavesdropping and other Magistrate lowjacking. The speech balloons aimed at Robin and Darcy’s hands were just a spot on perfect demonstration of what was going on. Simple and effective sequential story-telling.
The shimmering cloak setting on Robin’s suit was an amazing use of color. The lazarus pit re-cap was also an effective illustration, using pipes as panel borders to carry us through that little montage of science fantasy that makes this whole concept pop. Two Wookiee growls in the air for this issue.
Future State: Justice League #1: This is another of the oversized issues with one main story and a back up story like we’ve seen in issues above. In this case, it’s a Justice League back up.
Justice League (Story 1): My experience with Williamson writing the Rebirth era of The Flash has given me every confidence that he can bring this storyline to bear and land it’s themes and intent. We start out with a brand new Justice League comprised of all new members from the next generation of super heroes. Whatever failings I may have seen in these heroes’ individual books above (if any), seemed to have dissipated in this issue. Maybe it’s the group dynamic that keeps things moving, maybe it’s the lack of space to go of course with different team members, but it seems like every member has a narrative part to play here. The different heroes have distinct voices and play off one another with some great banter which nicely sugarcoats exposition placing us in this new future state (see what I did there?). There are two elements that are introduced and quickly done away with, though. One, the villains. I won’t spoil this, but there is an immediate subversion of expectations which isn’t necessarily bad, but happens quite quickly. Next, there is a set of new rules by which the Justice League must abide. Except, none of them except Batman seem to do that very well. I think this issue will be best viewed in light of the next issue. The art was effective, but didn’t absolutely blow me away. As always, better than I could produce, but nothing that wowed me.
Justice League Dark (second story): Maybe I am just a guy who leans toward the Justice League Dark. I’ve never analyzed it, but maybe I have a bias towards this team for some reason. Anyway, I though this was the stronger of the two stories. There’s continuity here with Ram V penning the Future State stories. We see Bobo repeatedly calling on another favorite character of mine, Etrigan, the rhyming demon. Once we encounter Ragman, the fun really starts to kick off and we end up in this mystical dystopia called Las Vegas. Maybe it’s the juxtaposition of the real world and the supernatural that has always drawn me to Justice League Dark. One minute they’re in dingy dive bar, the next on an exciting new plane of existence. Either way, this issue struck me as strong as anything else Ram V is putting out in the regular Justice League Dark series that preceded Future State. Takara’s art was a great mix of moody shadows and bright flashes of magic. The figures were polished with action in spades. Really, no complaints here.
Future State: Green Lantern #1: Green Lantern #1 comes with three stories. The first focuses on John Stewart, the second on Jessica Cruz, and the last on Guy Gardner. I don’t know why, but I seem to be gravitating toward the second and third stories in all of these Future State issues.
Last Lanterns: This story is a lot of hack and slash without a lot of time spent on what exactly the future state of the Lantern Corps actually is and what the mission at hand entails. The art is bright and action-packed but not really my style. On the spectrum of realistic to cartoon rendering, this one leaned closer to the latter. I oftentimes enjoy some of the more cartoony comics, but I didn’t find myself drawn into this one.
The Taking of Sector 0123: This Jessica Cruz tale took the trope of a hero losing her powers (like The Flash above) and made it remarkably interesting. Where the Lantern Corps meets Home Alone, Jessica Cruz defends her post from the Sinestro Corps. Ryan Cady’s tale reminds us that resourcefulness, brains, and the ability to think on one’s feet are as important to a hero’s mission as the powers bestowed upon them–often more important. There’s an awesome twist ending that makes me want to come back and check in on Jessica. Sami Basri’s art is clean and effective, breaking through panels when need-be, foregoing backgrounds where appropriate during action shots, and manifesting lantern powers with great flash and dazzle!
The Book of Guy: Ernie Altbacker’s hilarious tale about Guy Gardner being called in to resolve a tribal dispute on a distant planet in a sector he does not patrol is the highlight of this issue. Guy comes into orbit with classic hubris, attempting to declare the feud over a “relic” fallen from the sky pointless and summarily end it. Suddenly, his ring stops working, tying in with the unexplained lack of powers in the first two tales. Without translation and without powers, Guy can no longer take the easy way out of this situation. What ensues is decades of trial and error in governance. Guy struggles learning a new language, and struggles with the weight these people place on his “prophetic” words. Clayton Henry’s art is crisp and clean with colors and shading that strike a nice balance between realistic and more stylized.
Future State: Teen Titans #1: I held off writing a short review of this one because I wasn’t quite sure what to think. This could either be as a product of the jump forward into the future or my lack of familiarity with current Teen Titans continuity and publishing. However, the issue drops a lot of questions creating quite a thirst for answers in the reader. Some characters who first appeared not much more than a month ago are shown as headstones and there are obtuse references to a “mistake” that was made. These references are made during scenes that look lie flashbacks to Titans Academy. Hopefully issue #2 provides some answers.
It’s worth noting that this is “Red X’s” first appearance. Depending on who is under the mask, this may or not be a key issue. I’m not too hot on the idea and think the whole thing will deflate once the man under the mask is revealed.
Sandoval’s pencils, assisted with Tarragona’s inks, and Sanchez’s colors, are moody and fitting the tone of this post-apocalyptic Titans team.
Releasing January 19, 2021
Future State: Nightwing #1: Andrew Constant pens “Once Upon a Time in Gotham” and this is classic Nightwing high-flying action set in the Future State dystopia of Gotham. Dick is lured out of the shadows by would-be victims who are actually Magistrate actors. They intend to track him back to his new lair. Little do they know, Nightwing’s plan relies on them tracking him all along. Scott and Plasncia’s art strikes the perfect balance between the Gotham grit and Future State neon and there are some wonderfully creative action panels of Nightwing’s acrobatics. If you want classic back-flipping Dick in Future State, this is your book.
Immortal Wonder Woman in Future State (story 1): Cloonan and Conrad pen a tale of our favorite Amazonian who simply will not give up on planet Earth in spite of certain destruction and little left to defend. Everybody Diana has known and loved among the mortal is dead and gone and she has every reason to flee with her fellow Amazonians. She still fights for this planet that was her home, though. This story is full of heart and is really some classic DC tropes set in Future State. There is an extraterrestrial threat and Wonder Woman is standing up against it. However, there is the big question as to why. What does she stand to protect in the end? I hope we get a great answer to that question in issue 2 and beyond.
Jen Bartel’s cover and interiors in this tale are simply breathtaking. There are pages that look like they were set during that legendary “golden hour” every photographer hopes for and then there are ominous pages washed in deep, dark reds, and infinite shadows. The characters, while painstakingly depicted, are only half the job as Bartel takes every opportunity to populate the backgrounds with entrancing detail. This art moves me to quasi-poetry in this short review. <chef’s kiss>
Nubia in Future State (Story 2): L.L. McKinney sets up a story centered around a heist where Grail is picking up a piece of an ancient relic. Having foiled the plot, but experienced quite the head trip upon touching the relic, Nubia consults with her aunt. Then comes what I think is the more interesting part of this back up story, the ancient Amazonian lore. The art is serviceable, but as always better than I could produce. The Diana Prince story is the real all-star of this book.
Future State: Superman: Worlds of War #1: first of all, the Janin cover art on this book is phenomenal! You get a feel for the climate of the planet Clark finds himself on based purely on the pale hue of his skin on the backdrop of that red sky.
The Many Lives of Clark Kent (Story 1): Smallville has become a tourist trap at worst and a Mecca at best. Our protagonist walks down main street and encounters various philosophies on the man known as Superman. This story is interesting as an examination of how a hypothetical real-world population may react to having a super-powered alien among them. Our protagonist arrived to mourn Clark’s disappearance and is then disheartened by the discord and in-fighting at the memorial. This story isn’t necessarily action-packed, but it’s a fun breather before the action in the later stories. Janin’s interiors are crisp and wel-executed, leaving little to be desired. Certain highlights, like Superman’s duel in the pit on War World, pop off the page, but the rest has an understated dusty beauty. The scenes in Smallville segue seamlessly into the scenes on War World and subsequently, the next story in this issue.
Time and Effect (Story 2): Mister Miracle, Shilo, finds himself transported to War World in an unexplained twist. You’ll remember Valentine De Landro’s art from Superman of Metropolis and this brings a certain unifying thread between the different books to the table. It’s effective in its simplicity, but as I said in Superman of Metropolis, may not be for everyone. The majority of this story is spent by Shilo investigating the world he finds himself on. Through his eyes, we get an idea of how the grotesque War World operates. The narrative beauty here, though, is that this seque’s perfectly into the third story in the issue as Shilo crosses paths with the Midnighter…
Midnighter Future State (Story 3): I’m not usually a fan of storylines where a character is tasked with delivering a secret package by a secret client. This is no different. Spoiler alert, in the end it’s the fellow running the spire above War World and Midnighter’s been played. The whole story has a very 90s vibe and some of the action panels left me confused as to what was actually going on. I don’t know, maybe I’ll come around in the second installment if there’s a solid landing on the plot line of this tale.
Future State: Black Racer, Chapter One: Do Not Go Gentle (Story 4): Black Racer finds herself dumped into the salvage pits under War World operated by anthropomorphic humanoid dogs. She escapes and liberates some of those dogs. There is a flashback scene and the atmospherics of this story are nice, but it seems like it hasn’t had room to hit its pace yet.
Future State: Catwoman #1: Written by Ram V., this issue is 90% action, but all hear and character. Masterful unraveling off the “heist” plan in a manner reminiscent of Ocean’s 11, or any of the other classic heist films, leaves you wanting more at the end. As you learn more about the plan, what remains to be accomplished is revealed as a mystery and it’s one you eagerly await to be uncovered. Otto Schmidt’s art is crisp, simple, and effective, communicating all the action without the reader skipping a beat. I can’t wait for issue #2.
Future State: Shazam #1: A not uncommon occurrence so far in Future State is where the reader is thrown into the fray mid-story. This is to be expected to some degree because Future State already hurdles the DC continuity a few years to a dozen years, to hundreds of years, to all the way to the end of time depending on which book you’re reading. What’s telling of a particular title in Future State is whether the narrative can get your head to stop spinning by the end of issue 1 and tempt you back for more.
Here, Shazam is angry and brooding and lashing out as his team to not call him Billy. Meanwhile, there’s a short-lived mystery about villains being murdered right under the team’s nose. SPOILER ALERT it’s Shazam doing it at lightning fast speed. In the end we learn that Shazam has become separated from Billy and for one reason or another, Billy was left in the underworld to protect the door to a cell containing great evil yet to be revealed. It’s intriguing, it’s serviceable, if somewhat muddled. I won’t lie and state I understood 100% of what was going on.
Pansica’s art was beautiful. I particularly enjoyed the detailed hair on Grodd and Creeper.
I enjoyed this issue much more than the last one. Now we start to see Fox headed back towards Batman’s detective roots. He doesn’t quite have all the resources the Batman we know and love has, and he’s fighting for justice in spite of the laws that seek to stop him. By the end we see Batman stuck in a dilemma that’s hard to reconcile. He’s hunted down some masked thugs who killed a man, only to learn that they are actually masked vigilantes avenging their daughter. Fox believes they are criminals that deserve to pay for the murder, but is also faced with the hypocrisy staring back at him. Meanwhile, the Magistrate are hunting them both down for wearing masks and exacting justice. Where do the lines get drawn? How is Fox different from those he’s hunting? These are really interesting themes and questions that I hope to continue to explore. The art is the same consistent high quality as the last issue. Gritty where necessary, glitzy, neon-drenched to show the mood of this future dystopian Gotham.
Batgirls (2nd Story): I have to admit that this was a tough read the first time through. The dialogue is thick and it’s hard to stay focused on what it’s trying to convey. I think an editor could have taken a hatchet to this and cut out perhaps half of the words. However, upon a second reading, I really enjoyed the subterfuge presented. There are subtle hints throughout the beginning as to what’s actually going on and once you figure it out, it’s a lot of fun to be in on the secret.
Ladies Night Out (3rd Story): This story doesn’t take itself very seriously, making it hard for me to do so as well. It’s Sex and the City meets Gotham City Sirens and it’s about what you would expect.
Future State: Wonder Woman #2: Issue 2 of this series solidifies that Joëlle Jones’ tale is the stand out exemplar of quality in Future State. Not only is the story larger-than-life, but the imagery is wonderous, epic, spectacular, and breathtaking. Panels ebb and flow between crisp and smooth depictions of Wonder Woman and her companion through the afterlife, to a smoky, hazy Hades. Again, as in issue #1, Jones uses dot matrix or half-tone dot coloring and texture where appropriate to give the classic comics pulp feel and it works. The tale is reminiscent of Greek classics of course, but not just in name and setting. The style and tone of the story strikes the perfect balance between tragedy and levity that made the ancient tales riveting enough to warrant remembering for thousands of years.
Future State: Swamp Thing #2: Another strong vision of what the future of the DC universe can look like, Swamp Thing #2 hits on all the classic reasons we love Swamp Thing. Yes, he’s avatar of the Green, but he also seeks to protect humanity. In the finale of this tale, Swamp Thing is faced with an existential threat to his population of flora sentient human avatars. His solution to this crisis is creative, moving, and a perfect way to bring this vision to a close. Bravo, Ram V! Perkins gives us illustrations with details and texture reminiscent of some of our favorite Bissette panels. The allusion back to the Anatomy Lesson brings a sort of continuity consistency to the tale that any Swamp Thing fan will love. This one’s a big recommend from me in the Future State event!
Future State: Harley Quinn #2: And now we move into the section of this week’s releases that I would dub “redemption issues.” I was no huge fan of the first installment of Harley Quinn, but issue #2 pull out the W and got me on board with the story as a whole. Harley arises victorious from this trinity of villain infighting through a series of double-crosses and the result is a Harley we can all get on board with. The art style is still a bit distracting to me, but I managed to read through the panels in this installment with a little bit more ease than last time.
Future State: The Flash #2: Next up on the redemption list is Flash #2! It might be the change up of artists to Brandon Peterson and Will Conrad, or it might be that somehow the concepts seemed more palatable to me in this showdown between Wally and Barry. Either way, the combination of writing and art clicked this time around and I’d say this series ended on a narrative high note. That’s not to say the story is a feel good tale. Quite the contrary. But, Vietti dared to take this tale dark and I think it paid off.
Make no mistake, this story ends on a hopeless note, but maybe that’s what it needed. The imagery is amazing, with a perfect balance between bright colors and realistic shading and details. Watching Barry suit up as some sort of Rogues Gallery Boba Fett was worth the price of admission in and of itself. I can’t say what makes one outlandish idea more digestible to me than another, but the paranormal, ethereal, or mystical elements of this issue went down easier than the Speed Force meditation from issue #1.
Last Lanterns Part Two (Story one): Written by Geoffrey Thorne and pencilled by Tom Raney, this story continues the sci-fi lingo and alien cuss laden fist-fight from the previous issue. I was starting to enjoy the distinct stylized details of Raney’s art when the whole story came to an abrupt whiplash of an end. It’s somewhat expected in a 2 issue format. The story will be limited by the small space permitted. However, the downfall of the big bad for the past two issues didn’t really match up with John Stewart’s foreshadowing about vulnerable arteries. When you pair that with an almost literal appearance by a Deus Ex Machina, you’re left feeling a little deflated at the end of this story.
Dead Space (Story two): Josie Campbell’s story started out a little happy-go-lucky for such a dark future state (ahem). However, mere pages into it, the whole story line is flipped on it’s kumbaya head and we get what feels like a very real tale about light and dark and what it means to be a teenager who just wants to make their mark on the galaxy. The whole Green Lantern Future State status quo is premised on the fact that the main power battery somehow went down. So far, how this happened has not been answered. I suspect that Future State is all a massive jump forward teasing events that happen in Infinite Frontier. However, the moment the power battery goes down in Dead Space is particularly heart-wrenching. How our protagonist fights back is equally heartening.
Recon (third story): Welcome back to Hal, Venditti! Venditti’s spot on Hal Jordan tone, mixed with Dexter Soy’s out-of-this world pencils make this short story a treat to look at and read. Alex Sinclair’s bright greens and blues make the whole galactic romp pop off the page and contrast nicely with Soy’s deep shades and shadows. This story is as close to a recap page as we have gotten about what is going on in the Future State Green Lantern world and it’s a bit of a truncated overview. It’s called Recon for a reason. However, that doesn’t make this tale unenjoyable. If anything, it just gets me pumped to see how we got here!
Everything I said above about Sauvage’s beautiful pages in issue #1 can be doubled down on here. This comic continues to differ from the norm and results in a treat for the eyes because of it. This issue and this series hit the pacing of a 2 issue story absolutely perfectly. Further, there are several complementary themes playing out in this book that all get ties together in a satisfying conclusion. The desire for peace and the conundrum of how to resolve a conflict without violence, the exclusive nature of a mantle and name that is inherited, how to define yourself by what you do and not who people say you are, and the generational wisdom handed down in building something worth being proud of. All of this concludes in utopian scenes stemming from a creative conflict resolution with the three space eels who showed up last issue. A shining entry into the Future State initiative.