Monday, January 25, 2021

Review: Future State Superman Worlds Of War #1

Future State Superman Worlds Of War #1 came out last week. Of all the Future State books, this was the one I was most eager to read. Phillip Kennedy Johnson is the writer of the main Superman story and as he is taking over the Superman books, I have been eager to see his take on the Man of Steel.

While the story has Superman in it for only a couple of pages, the story did a good job of giving me a feel for what Johnson thinks of Superman. At least for now, I am pretty happy. It is hard to know how much of this Future State business (if any) is going to trickle back down to the present day timeline. But the general respect for Superman is seen here. 

Add to that Mikel Janin very polished art and you have a very entertaining story. Johnson's script has Janin drawing it all, from human crowds sitting around a bonfire to Superman fighting demons to an almost deific Man of Steel. His art dazzles in all those arenas.

This was a very entertaining read, not only for the actual plot but for the reassurance it has given me (for now) for the future of the Superman books. I haven't been able to say that I have enjoyed all the Future State stuff I have read. I can here.

On to the book.

"The Many Lives of Clark Kent" starts with a young girl named Sadie entering Smallville. The sleepy little town has become something of a mecca, a religious destination for those that worship Superman. It seems the Man of Steel disappeared at some point. With his secret identity known, all aspects of his life have become open for dissection amongst people following him, worshiping him.

It is almost ridiculous seeing people pawning off trinkets and reading Clark's term papers like holy texts. It felt, if I can be biblical, like Christ seeing all the dealers in the temple.

That evening, she makes her way to a cornfield vigil where people who have been saved my Superman retell the tales.

Some of them are a bit straightforward, like this woman talking about how a suicide bomber's explosive vest suddenly disappeared into the sky. She never even saw Superman but she knows it was him.

The fact this happened in Jerusalem leans into the religious feel here. And the art, showing only the cape blur is wonderful.

Someone is rescued after falling off a building.

This person talks about Superman repelling a demon attack and appearing 2 days later like nothing happened.

I suppose if it was 3 days, the resurrection symbolism would be too obvious.

But then we move away from retelling of stories into more conjecture.

Where is Superman?

Many think he died and didn't come back.

Someone worries the surviving Kryptonians will come to set themselves up as deities.

Sadie wonders where is the hope in these people that Superman is alive. Wasn't that Superman's greatest gift? Hope.

That's when others speak up. They don't think he has died. They think he has transcended or ascended into something else.

One thinks he has become a righteous wind, blowing away evil. 

That's a nifty idea and this page of tanks being scattered sells it beautifully.

Others think he mutated into another life forms.

Others claim he has turned other worlds into agrarian Edens and then went into the sun to birth a race of super-beings.

Loved this image and can only hope that we see Janin draw Supergirl at some point.

But all of these ideas seem to come from a place of Superman leaving humanity behind. And while these show an overall respect or reverence for Superman, they don't seem right.

Sadie then speaks her mind.

She can't believe any of these ideas. She can't believe that anyone would think that Superman would leave Earth behind instead of staying around to continue to inspire.

If Johnson is speaking to us through Sadie then I like him already. He says Superman is the best of us. That Superman is us. Sadie even brings up Truth, Justice, and the American Way.  The American Way! Glad to see that now and again.

Superman should inspire us!

I am a firm believer in that notion. That is who Superman should be!

I am also one of those people who believe that Clark is the real identity and Superman is the fake one he puts on when he needs to get to business.

So having Clark Kent be the one who saved Sadie is a very nice twist.

Regardless, Superman would not want to be worshiped. Sadie leaves.

Solid expressive work by Janin throughout this scene.

But where is Superman.

Well, the issue ends with us seeing a depowered Superman stuck as a warrior on Warworld. The red tinge of the scene makes me think red solar energy is part of what is keeping our hero down.

But without a second thought, Superman puts a new arrival on Warworld behind him. Superman is there to protect.

Hopefully the sword is for defense.

Janin kills it on the art here. You can feel the age and weariness but determination in Superman. 

Seriously, this was a very solid read setting the stage for this series and giving us a primer on Johnson's thoughts.

The back-up stories are not my cup of tea. The Midnighter story is written by Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad with art by Gleb Melnikov. It is a dreadful little thing but it does show us that Andrej Trojan from the Superman of Metropolis book is actually Apollo. And we learn the origin of that pesky Nirhodium. So there is a sort of continuity here, just one I'm not that intrigued to dive into.

But that opening Superman story was a great read. Great premise and gorgeous art. Will this sort of take on Superman carry into the main titles in a couple of months. I can only hope.

Overall grade: B+


Martin Gray said...

Thanks for the review, I avoided this because of the choice of back-ups, I want proper Superman Family features if I’m going to shell out such a lot of money. I don’t doubt the quality of the first story, I love JanĂ­n, but I’ve read far too many ‘Superman as religious figure’ stories. Ditto gladiator Superman.

Weren’t there another couple of back-ups in there?

Anj said...

I don't seem to be liking the back ups in these Future State books and this issue was no exception. I comment on the Midnighter one briefly.

As for religious Superman, I think Johnson wants to move away from that notion.

I'll keep you up to date!

Anonymous said...

Apropos of nothing, but have you ever noticed that DC never invested any time in creating a "Supergirl Prime"? That was because they'd already invested hundreds and hundreds of man-hours in distorting and shaming the original. No need to create an evil doppelgänger when you can ruin the original.



Anonymous said...

Hello from a french fan of supergirl,

Just one question : where is Lois Lane ?

For now, it's the only future stae where i want to know the rest.

And for the comic "the other history of the dc universe", we have the point of view of Karen Ducan, Bumbeblee. She is quite rright about the attitude of superman towards supergirls, a criticims of the author of this time ?

Martin Gray said...

Lois Lane shows up in the wonderful Imperious Lex, I’ll have a review of that up at Too Dangerous For a Girl (shameless plug) later today.