Monday, September 29, 2014

Review: Superman Futures End #1

Superman Futures End #1 came out last week and was a very good story. It isn't exactly a Superman story with Kal only appearing in a flashback sequence. But there is enough of Superman in this book to make me happy, showcasing how he inspires others to do what's right.

It isn't a big surprise given the reveal in the main Futures End book as well as the lightning motif on the cover that the helmeted Superman is, in fact, Captain Marvel. It seems that in the main book, Lois has told the world that this Superman isn't the Superman. And as a result, there is some fallout with people mistrusting Captain Marvel and a rogue of the Big Red Cheese coming calling.

As most know, I am not collecting the main FE book figuring I have read enough possible bleak DC futures to fill a lifetime already. But this one seems to focus more on the light and less on the grim.

The book is written by Superman great Dan Jurgens. Jurgens has a great sense for Superman and that shows here. He also writes a near perfect Lois  making me happy to see that version of Lane as opposed to the one that has been in the current super-books.

Lee Weeks does the art and really just sparkles. This was the most beautifully rendered book of the week. And Weeks' Lois is also perfect. Maybe we need to start up the cry for a Lois solo book again.

This is a dystopian world. Remember, even in the present, DC has set up Superman to be distrusted by the masses and feared by the military. And he's the real Superman.

So despite this new Superman having done good, having been a hero ... there are those who qurestion his motives. After saving a family from a fire, someone in the crowd yells 'what are you trying to pull'!

Yep. Sounds like the New 52. No one likes heroes in this world.

It turns out that Lois has seen the Superman's secret identity ,.. Captain Marvel ... and revealed that on the news. And apparently, he was eaten alive by the press for hiding something. That also sounds like the New 52. Established hero dons new costume = distrust.

But Lois is more than just a reporter of sensational news. She wants to know why. She tracks down Billy Batson and asks him why. Why he became the helmeted Superman.

Weeks is at his best in the Lois scenes in this book. There is something classic about his interpretation of her.

Billy retells the scene that inspired him to pick up the mantle of the S-shield.

During the future war with Apokolips, truces were made. Captain Marvel was fighting side by side with Black Adam. That is ... until Adam tried to betray Billy, to kill him and steal Billy's powers.

Luckily Superman was nearby to save Marvel. And in times of war, Superman seems to be acting like judge and jury. He sends Black Adam to the Phantom Zone.

Again, beautiful art by Weeks. Superman looks beefy and the world seems war-torn.

Now none of the prior Futures End crossovers tempted me to buy the main book. In fact, a couple made me want to buy it even less.

But I have to admit ... this piqued my interest.

Superman leaves for a solo mission, a secret mission given to him by an unknown person, a mission he never returns from (even though we know he survives).

What was the mission? Who sent him??

Kudos to Dan Jurgens for making me interested in Futures End, even for a moment.

I like this Billy a lot more than the self-absorbed punk that I read in Justice League. Here he seems mature, discussing how the world needs a Superman.

But Lois also has a good point. Billy needs to be himself as well. Is this life as Superman rewarding for him?

Now I don't mind the idea of Superman being so influential that someone picks up his mantle. Steel? He's a great character. Remember the Supermen of America. Or the concept of Team Superman? It works. But those characters were honoring Superman without sublimating their own personality to be him. It is fine distinction.

Then Jurgens does something pretty nifty. With the reveal that Superman is Shazam, one of his Rogue's decides to make a splash. IBAC starts to terrorize the city. Ibac!! Ivan the Terrible, Cesare Borgia, Attila the Hun, and Caligula all rolled into one.

This is really a Shazam comic so I am glad that one of his baddies is the villain of the peace.

We get a couple of pages of standard super-powered mayhem, all drawn solidly by Weeks. Really wonderful art in this book.

But finally Billy is victorious. And with that he realizes he needs to be himself. He shouts Shazam and the helmeted Superman suit becomes the more classic lightning bolt costume of Captain Marvel.

Nice lightning effect here on the broken glass helmet. Works given the discussion of identity and Billy accepting himself as Cap.

So a decent little story. I like Marvel's understanding of the power of the S-shield and his desire to uphold that symbol. (I would love for him to keep an S-shield armband on.) I also like that this means that Marvel has grown into more of a hero than I have seen prior. And having him trounce IBAC is a nice touch.

I also love Lois in here as an investigative reporter looking deep into the story and telling the 'whys' not just the 'whats'.

So kudos again to Jurgens. And loved Lee Weeks here.

Overall grade: B+


Martin Gray said...

A great issue overall, yes, but I don't love Lois totally here. OK, it's a piece of the dramatic mechanism of Futures End, but the 'I must reveal the truth of your life BECAUSE I KNOW' with no caring for reasons, or consequences, makes her look like a pretty rubbish person. First she gives up his secrets, then kindly 'offers' him a chance to tell her side? I think I'd be reaching for that Phantom Zone projector myself, like Superman in some Silver Age Superdickery tale.

Jay said...

I agree with Martin, Lois didn't come off looking so great here. Especially taking into account Futures End proper, in which she specifically states that she's sitting on the story about Tim Drake being alive because she knows there has to be more to the story. So she's applying a double-standard here, as there was more to this story too and she released it first then went for clarification later.

Oh, and for anyone curious, its highly hinted that its Batman who set up Superman's mission.

Bartiemus said...

I don't get your complaints about Shazam him and Cyborg have had the highlight moments in Justice League for me they feel like they can actually be friends unlike the rest of the league.

I guess that's why I am enjoying Justice League United so much right off the bat everyone feels like they will become friends a strong team who looks out for each other through thick and thin. That is something The New 52 is sorely lacking at the moment.