Friday, January 8, 2021

Review: Future State Superman Of Metropolis #1

DC's Future State experiment happened this week, the look at possible futures born out of the end of the seemingly interminable Death Metal event.

Fandom had heard about DC's 5G reboot, a recreation of the DCU with new characters in familiar roles. When the 'forever' 5G timeline was truncated to a couple of months, we ended up with Future State.

I am grateful. Because if the Superman I read in Future State Superman of Metropolis #1 was going to be the new reality, I might have to finally jump off. This is written by Sean Lewis, a name I don't know. We still get Jon Kent. We still get Supergirl. But their characterization and intelligence is way off of anything I would want to read long term.

Jon, the bright and smart Superboy, is reduced to an impetuous young man, acting first before thinking. 

Supergirl is an angry hot-head, screaming about wanting to murder her cousin and fighting first. And while there is a story element to explain her actions, I simply don't care. I am sick of reading mind-controlled evil Supergirls who come within an eyelash of murder. We went from the respect Brian Michael Bendis gave Kara to this grim caricature. Honestly, I am just sick of this presentation of Kara. I am not surprised by it any more. But I am sick of it.

And it is a bit of a shame. Because the artwork is by John Timms. I really like Timm's take on Supergirl. He really gives her a polished look. He does a great job with the action here. And even the villain looks like a nice sort of Keith Giffen-y creature. Give me a Timms book with a happy, heroic  Supergirl!

On to this book!

We jump right into the action. We are some point in the future. And in caption boxes we get much needed exposition. 

Andrej Trojan upgraded people with nanotech, kicked out Lex Luthor, and tried have Metropolis secede as a separate state. The nanotech-infected citizens became super-soldiers. When the US military came calling for Trojan-tech, the man Trojan takes off. 

But the techology-boosted citizens continue to fight for Trojan. They are controlled so maybe innocent. The non-enhanced are in the middle.  And as a result, Jon Kent ... now Superman ... has to fly in and protect them.

Call me old-fashioned, but opening the book with Superman fighting the US army? Should they not come and try to free the people of Metropolis who are trapped there? Aren't the Trojan-ized citizen-soldiers a threat to peace?

While Andrej Trojan has run, he left behind Brain Cells.

This sort of Gibbering Mouther, Giffen-esque device is doing the mind-control. It is a mix of technology and Brainiac remnants. And it is the real threat.

I will repeat this. Brain Cells is the villain, controlling the populace infected with Nanotech.

You would think that Jon would recognize that the thing he needs to defeat is this machine. 

Heat vision it? Throw it into the sun? Bash it into pieces? Shrink it? Throw it in the Phantom Zone?


Instead, Jon has a conversation with it.

That includes a list of prior battles that Jon had with Kara as a teammate.

I like things like this. It reminds me of Grant Morrison 'throw away' ideas. Things mentioned in passing that sound really cool.

Time Luchadores? That's a fun image.

And how fun to see the cousins working together.

But then, the leap. The plot turn that makes very little sense to me.

Jon grabs Brain Cells and flies off with it, knowing that physical distance will weaken Brain Cells hold on the people of Metropolis. He also knows that the Army will leave Metropolis to chase Brain Cells.

So ... fly Brain Cells real far away, right? Or throw him into space?


Instead, he thinks the best way to protect the citizens and shield them from Brain Cells is to put Metropolis in a bottle.


That was his best solution?

Jon takes Brain Cells to the Fortress. Almost like a guest. Isn't this thing the villain?

The sudden disappearance of Metropolis gets the attention of Supergirl.

Let's start out with the positive. Great new suit. Sort of a mash-up of the New 52 Superman and the red-shoulders of the Crisis era Kara. Timms makes her fit and athletic and pretty fierce. Seriously, I'd love to see Timms on a Supergirl book. Brilliant take.

Now the bad.

One of her first lines his how she wants to murder Jon in cold blood. Murder! Her cousin! And if she doesn't murder him, she wants him to give up Brain Cells and relinquish the title of Superman. 

Outright anger and hatred from Supergirl, right from the start. Spare me this possible future already.

And then we get more nonsense.

Because of her midochlorians ... oops ... because of Brain Cells' Nirodhium, he is able to control Kara. He has been fueling her hate and anger. She is a pawn.

Have I heard of Nirodhium before? Nope.

Do I know how Nirodhium helps Brain Cells control the full-blooded Kryptonian Supergirl and not the half-Kryptonian Jon? Nope.

Lewis needed something to set this plot point he wanted into motion. So why not make up something completely.

Now some might say that her being controlled should make this okay with me. After all, the 'real' Supergirl might not say or do this. 

But give me a break, this is a story point. Angry Supergirl once again made the lackey of a super-villain. Should we count how many this has been in the last 20 years? Spare me.

The army shows up at the Fortress while the cousins brawl. 

Supergirl asks the most important question of the book. While Jon thinks that this bottle move will free the controlled citizens and protect the innocent, has he really thought through what it means to be put in a bottle?

Because, isn't bottling cities what villains do?

And honestly, couldn't Superman think of a better solution to rid the world of the threat of Brain Cells. The big giant computer that he has been chummy with. It is the villain, right?

Again, Timms Supergirl is truly wonderful throughout this sequence. 

The sky ends up a huge battle between the cousins and Army drones when a new combatant arrives, a giant space ship decloaks.

Snapped out of their brawl by this ship, the Super-family realizes that they need to protect the bottle city of Metropolis. Speeding back into the Fortress, Supergirl is blasted by Brain Cells. The Nirodhium is now deadly to Kryptonians. Well ... full blooded Kryptonians, it seems.

This finally seems to get through to Jon that Brain Cells is indeed the villain of the piece. But the chance to bash this thing into bits is over. He has somehow incorporated Metropolis into himself. Any damage to Brain Cells would damage the city.

After all, it made perfect sense for Superman to leave a super-villain alone in the Fortress with a bottled Metropolis while he clashed with Supergirl. (Read that sentence again. That sentence should tell you all you need to know about this experimental series.)

And ... gasp ... Brain Cells is the villain of the story. Maybe I should up that to super-villain.

It decides the right thing to do is become the new Brainiac and take Metropolis all for himself.

I don't want to recap anymore. I don't want to talk about the plot missteps or the character diminution any more.

Let's just say, again, I am glad this isn't the title for long.

Overall grade: D


Martin Gray said...

Great review, I agree with you on every point. Stupid Jon. Mind-controlled Kara. Obvious villain allowed to run free. Ugh.

And this Trojan fella, we never meet him!

Are we bothering with next issue?

Did you get to the back-ups?

Aaron said...

In 2006, The WWE did an ECW PPV called One Night Stand; the main event was John Cena vs RVD. And during the match, Cena was bombarded (and I do mean bombarded) with chants of "Same Old Shit, Same Old Shit..." It is exactly this chant that comes to mind whenever I read this characterisation of Kara... and other characters that, quite frankly, come across as being written by early-teens-school-children on their work-experience.
I fear we're all headed towards a cultural wasteland, the main cause being intellectual starvation.
Too harsh/dark?

It's all rather embarrassing. And infuriating.

Great review, Anj. I hope you and everyone on here keeps safe and healthy.

Can you hear the chants??? "Same Old Shit... Same Old Shit..."

Anonymous said...

...Wow. I expected nothing, and yet FS sounds even WORSE than my non-existent expectations.

I am really sorry that you wasted money on this.

Anonymous said...

I bought all of six of the Future State titles this week, and all the rest are on order, but -- so far I've only read four, and I'm exhausted. Seven more weeks of these...

This was not a well-written story. It made little sense, but it's at least clear that Jon is an idiot while Kara is the usual angry pawn.


Martin Gray said...

Ditto. I had to have two days off before trying the Next Batman today. It looked great but was very dull, I couldn’t even get through the third story, the Magistrates set-up is so tired. As Anj notes, Superman had truly terrible presentations of Jon (stupid) and Kara (dark yet again!); Wonder Woman was Gaiman-lite fun but what’s it got to do with Diana’s deal?; Flash looked great but Wally getting dumped on once more... nah. I passed on Harley, but have Swamp Thing to read - perhaps that with be an unqualified hit with me.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

This does feel like a retread of a bad look for Supergirl. More importantly, it is a bad look at Jon, the hero of the book.

As for future state, Harley had a good hook but horrendous art. Wonder Woman was lovely to look at and fun but felt like cotton candy, sweet and then gone.

Anonymous said...

I commented on the Harley art on Martin's blog, in the Wonder Woman post. Like me, you read print. This was almost surely colored for digital, or at least comes across much better in that medium. I checked the digital in order to SEE the damn thing. I saw countless details that were just blurred in print. And the tricks Di Meo used - the lens flares, the out of focus elements, the glass of the jail cell, the transparent stairs - are so much easier to see.

Reminds me in some respects of Jamal Campbell's recent work on Far Sector.

Campbell colors his own art - I have no idea how Di Meo collaborates with Bonvillain here, given there are very few blacks except for some shadows. What does Bonvillain have to color over? Nothing but blue line? Does he ask her to color over 100% of his lines and then discard the black layer?

But ultimately this seems like an exotic treat. It's not a style I'd want to consume too often. It's an effort to take in everything that Di Meo and Bonvillain have done, and it draws a lot of attention away from the story.


Anonymous said...

Yeah it was pretty trashy and like it was the afterthought Super book everyone assumed it was going to be.

Anonymous said...

Hello from e french fan of supergirl,

What more can be said ?

I hope dc comic has planned something else after that. A happy supergirl ?

Anonymous said...

Is it me, or did Brain Cells casually kill Supergirl...again?? I mean seriously this book got everything else wrong, made a heat vision bonfire of common sense why wouldn't they execute Kara Zor El one more time?
With DC it's all either "cheap heat" or "no heat".
It all started out well with me and DC in 1970, but now its 2021 and it all turns to hate. I don't even care if she is alive in the next book, if she lives its only to be jobbed out as an angry pawn again...I hope DC goes out of business and forces AT&T, Warner Brothers and the universe in bankruptcy.