Monday, April 5, 2021

Review: Future State Imperious Lex Vs Superman #3

Future State finally came to an end last week with Superman Vs. Imperious Lex #3. I have to admit, I enjoyed each issue of this mini-series more than the last and this ending was pretty much pitch perfect. I know I sort of was irked at the first issue as an 'agenda book with a story' but now I wonder if I just didn't have enough coffee that morning I wrote the review.

It is clear that writer Mark Russell is writing this with Lex as a Donald Trump analogue. It isn't subtle. But 20 years from now, with Trump hopefully less in the news cycle, you can read this simply as showing how a dictator and propaganda can warp people's minds. Still, with Trump still fresh in my head at least, the metaphors are obvious.
And while this is a one-sided story, Russell puts enough in the narrative to basically say that anyone inundated with one viewpoint of news is going to become lost. In fact, it is Superman who continues to be the beacon here, talking about mercy and keeping your mind on what you are fighting for, while still recognizing sometimes you need to fight.

Steve Pugh is solid on art. His page construction with panels and shadows is nicely done showing the craziness of the story and people's mindset. 

Get ready to dive into political allegory!

We start out with Lois and Superman trying to convince the United Planets that Lexor needs support during their financial upheaval under Luthor. The other members aren't convinced thinking Lexor should reap what it sowed.

But Superman reminds them that mercy isn't deserved; it is granted. It is up to the merciful to put ill will behind them and help. 

Great message ... for both sides of the political aisle.

But the UP isn't feeling it.

Superman and Lois can go. But it is quite clear. They are on their own.

It is nice that Russell shows how this 'good side' can still be callous.

But let's face it. Lex is the bad guy here.

With his planet reeling, bankrupt and out of resources, he vows to take responsibility ... and find whoever is to blame.

That finger-pointing at others as the cause of problems was a Trump legacy. In fact, I feel like you could pencil a tiki torch into Lex's hand in that last panel. 

And, of course, the sycophants eat it up. It can't be their responsibility.


I do wish that personal responsibility made a comeback.

And then my favorite bit. Lex tells his loyal robot about the allegory of the cave.

But he twists it saying people start out in the real world but end up so immersed in their own narrative and feeding their own beliefs, that they end up in the cave, not even remembering what is real.

That upper panel, a Lexorian in a dark room, watching the news fill their mind with propaganda and subjective reporting is brilliant. That alien is truly in the dark.

While this story focuses on the Trump administration and Fox news, I dare say people following solely liberal news sources probably get fed their own propaganda.

Then we get another nice allegory.

Lex's faithful robot gets blamed for Luthor's problems and gets banished to the moon. Think of how many ranking officials Trump fired when he was in office as scapegoats or just for disagreeing with things.

And then the robot activates the Reticulants which Superman deprogrammed. Only now, without that programming, the turn on Lexor itself.

You can think of all the 'law and order' people who followed Trump who then stormed the Capitol to think of a similar situation. This is a case of 'they eat their own'.

But you can't have political satire without some laughs even if it is gallows humor.

The Reticulants come down and start demolishing Lexot and even killing the citizens. 

We see how the News is trying to ignore the problem. First by saying they 'won't live in fear', denying the existence. Then reporting on what pet to own as the cities are burning, ignoring the existence.

Heck, some Lexorians use the word Luthor instead of God, showing how deeply he has worked his way into the psyche of his believers.

Yes, I chuckled at all of this. It's funny because it's true.

And there is Superman once more giving the right message as he saves the Lexorians.

'We dare not lose ourselves to conflict'. Such a great message. We shouldn't fight just to fight. It should be for a reason.

I honestly love it.

Eventually Lex shows up to fight Superman. So much great Lex dialogue here, comparing Superman to a foot cramp and vowing to make a rug out of our hero.

But most of the populace finally sees through Lex's nonsense.

Still there are those who are still loyal. Like the very robot he banished. He still loves Lex and will follow him wherever fate leads.

Too true in the political world these days.

And just like that Lex is alone in a cell with this guy, still claiming he is relevant when no one else other than this single loyal person is there to hear it.

Now that my friends is an ending.

Seriously, I should erase the mean-spirited first issue review. This has been something of a revelation with all the right messages being sent. Brilliant writing, clear metaphors, and crisp art. 

Definitely one of the better Future State reads.

Overall grade: B+

1 comment:

Martin Gray said...

I don’t think you were that hard on the first issue. Anyway, yep, great conclusion. Poor old X-99, Superman should have Kelex mentor him.

I’m so glad we finally saw Lex’s head-lines - as opposed to his headlines - addressed. It’s a shame we never saw what he looks like under there, though. I’m thinking Anton Arcane on a bad day.

Now, more sklorp?