Monday, February 8, 2021

Review: Future State Superman Of Metropolis #2

Future State Superman of Metropolis #2 came out last week, the ending of this Future State mini-miniseries, setting up Jon Kent as the 'new' Superman and ending the threat of Brain Cells. Now you might remember that I had some issues with the first issue. This issue is definitely an improvement. But that is about as far as I can go.

I know I have to check myself some time. I am sure it is hard to convey the entirety of a timeline and a character within two issues. And I know I am 'twitchy' when it comes to how Supergirl is portrayed. I have a vision of who Kara is in my mind. I haven't seen that Kara in a long time. And maybe I am at fault for nitpicking.

Writer Sean Lewis finishes the story he started, putting Jon through his paces and making him mature over this time. But much of that maturation comes in comparison to both Superman and Supergirl. While this longtime Supergirl fan always think of how she felt like she was in Kal's shadow, I haven't always thought of Jon's thoughts of following both Kal and Kara. So that is interesting.

But Lewis' take on Kara is close to what I want, certainly closer than last issue. But there are some subtle things that didn't work for me.

One thing that did work well is John Timms' art! While some of the action is a bit muddled, the overall look of the book is very slick. And his take on Supergirl is great. I love her future costume here.

On to the book.

Last issue, Jon Kent shrank Metropolis to 'protect' it from the conflict between Brain Cells nanotech-infused citizens and the military. Brain Cells then went full evil, taking the bottled city into space. Realizing any number of solutions would have been better, Jon heads into space to regain the city. 

Here, trying to regain the city, Jon talks about how he has learned so much from Clark and Lois but also Kara. Kara spent 'years' helping him. 

Now he needs to ask himself, has he learned enough from them to actual embrace his role.

After this page, I think I finally understood that the purpose of this 2-parter was to show when Jon truly took on the mantle of Superman. Realizing he might be afraid of that responsibility and perhaps screwing things up makes his decision to shrink Metropolis a bit more understandable.

Brain Cells then whips up clones of Superman to fight Jon. And even crazier, although I suppose this is a fallout of Metal, Brain Cells knows all the different timelines of Superman. So we see everything from the golden age through current times. 

Now it seems a little petty or perhaps cruel for Brain Cells to do this. But if the point of the story is Jon wrestling with the concept of Superman and if he is fit to call himself that what could be a better visual interpretation than having him wrestle with Superman. Making these faceless adds to that. Jon isn't fighting Clark ... he is fighting the very idea of Superman.

Timms really shines here. You can tell, almost by hair alone, what era of Superman this is.

As for Supergirl, last issue she was mind-addled by Brain Cells and then blasted by the AI.

Waking up on Earth and back in control of her faculties, Kara finds the ship in space and decides to join the fray. She grabs the shrink ray rifle and heads to join Jon.

Now you might ask why she would bring the rifle into space. She is surely going to return Metropolis to Earth and return it to normal size there right? Seems risky.

But these pages, showing Supergirl awaken, find the ship, and steel herself to join the melee are beautiful. I really like this costume and that last panel is wonderful. I wouldn't mind Timms on a monthly Supergirl book.

The Jon battle continues within Brain Cells' ship. The AI says his programming is to make humans better and the best way to do that is to capture and study them under glass. That seems like flawed thinking. 

Cells won't let Jon stop him. And he won't let Kara stop him either.

The lesson of these Supermen finally hit Jon. He can't be afraid of the end of the world. He needs to get over the fear. 

He rips the Nirhodium core out of Brain Cells and uses its Kryptonite-like properties to blast the clones.

Nirhodium didn't seem to be able to hurt Kryptonians this quickly last issue but maybe clones are more unstable.

Outside the ship, Kara gets fired on and the lasers destroy the shrink gun.

I always like a confident Supergirl. I always like a fierce Supergirl. But there is a fine line between confident and haughty. There is a fine line between fierceness and rage. 

So I am torn about this page which really is on the tightrope. Supergirl stating she is the most powerful being in the universe seems like a reach.

And then this exchange. Jon says an apologetic Kara is nonexistent. That is a far cry from the character who is supposed to be about hope, help, and compassion for all. It is a far cry from someone who has struggled at times and been forgiven. To have her not apologize makes her seem hardened.

Even here, she admits her apology about hitting Jon and calling him weak isn't an apology.

I don't like that.

Depowered without his Nirhodium, Brain Cells has no choice but the help Kara repair the shrink gun. If he doesn't, she will beat him up.

I do like that she calls him Brainy. 

And again, the costume is quite lovely.

 Metropolis is regrown. 

And finally, Jon declares that he is ready. He is ready to be Superman.

Okay, not a bad ending.

Everything has happened fast in this mini-series. Brain Cells and his crazy ideas and K-like powers, the military wanting Brain Cells, the Nirhodium, Jon's decision to shrink, the creation of Superman clones, Kara's overall behavior - it all unfolds so quickly that the reader needs to just ride the wave. I'm not a fan of decompressed stories but this feels incredibly compressed. 

The ultimate theme, Jon realizing he can be The Superman, is a nice one to explore. And once I got that that was the theme, I was able to look at events through that lens and appreciate the story more.

But I still think this was an unflattering look at Kara, controlled, angry, unapologetic, arrogant, enraged. And hard to compare this Kara to the completely passive, unreactive Supergirl in her own Future State book.

Overall grade: C+


Martin Gray said...

Yep, this is better but still not great. I wonder what happened in the 20 years between this and Superwoman. Well, I wonder, but not so much that I want to see it.

Anonymous said...

In the first issue, Kara was already "brain-addled" before the Nirhodium got to her. How do we know? The conversation early in the issue:

Jon: Kara did the burning
Brain Cells: Of course it was Kara.

"Of course"? Evidently she has quite a reputation.

In #2, that line -- "I'm the most powerful person in the universe" -- is so over-the-top. She's so powerful that -- she can't prevent the size ray from being blown right out of her hands? She comes off as self-aggrandizing and deluded.

More awfulness:

"Actually, I want to say thank you. 'Cause now I don't have to be nice." -- Don't have to be nice? That's how thugs talk!


"Oh, if you don't help, I'll definitely remember." Again, how thugs make threats. (Jon already made the same threat right before she makes it again, when he says "you'll assist, or she might remember.") Ugh.

Now, technically of course she will "remember." This is an idiom that means "she might take revenge." Because that's who she is.

Superman does NOT take revenge. He always tries to find another way. Kara? Not true of her. She is a super-powered bully.

"Look at us, playing nice." That's sarcastic and -- thuggish.

"Good answer." Another threat - if you'd said something else, I'd have let you have it. More thuggery.

The point I'm making is Sean Lewis has written Kara as -- well, I'll say it again, a thug.

DC has clearly written a modern character study of Supergirl, a "Bible" if you will, and we may not like it but have to come to terms with it that this is exactly how they want her to be written. This is who she is. It's possible though that Lewis took it further than DC intends. They probably say she is angry -- not that she is a bully or a sadist.

I think Lewis has written her as someone you could pretty easily see as an ally of Zod. (Not the latest Zod, who Bendis wrote quite sympathetically. I mean the traditional Zod.)

NOBODY likes it. Has anyone ever seen a single critic say one good thing about this characterization? DC does not seem to pay any attention to readers. Sales drop, they cancel a book, but they don't understand what happened or why. In fact - like abusers always do, they just double down.

Who are they abusing? The readers who pay for it. Like victims, we keep coming back for more, and abusers find that contemptible, so they just slug harder.


Anonymous said...

I'm calling it, Jonathan Kent is dumber than a bag of hammers, Supergirl behaves in a cold & arrogant fashion thru out, but Jonathan makes bad decisions apologizes for the same and then goes on making bad decisions...If He is the future of the House of El, it may be time to board up shop and decamp for the caves.
Don't laugh, this is how Superboy Prime got started...
Like T.N. above I'd bitterly criticize DC for this Kara characterization, if she actually contributed anything to this issue that is...I mean other than awaking from a coma, grabbing a shrink ray (for no discernible purpose) making a few threats, apologizing, non apologizing, more threats, more inexplicable arrogance, she really hardly needed to be written into the storyline at all.


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said “ DC has clearly written a modern character study of Supergirl, a "Bible" if you will, and we may not like it but have to come to terms with it that this is exactly how they want her to be written.”

They stated back in 2011 when the New52 was announced this was exactly the characterization they wanted:

That this still exists on the DC Comics web site in spite of Will Moss being long gone would indicate it’s still their character model. And the fact that it was phrased as “you know teenage girls are just like this, right guys?” seems to point to it being a general belief about teenage girls and not just Supergirl.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree that Kara mostly came across as an arrogant brat.

What gets me is what every characters "memories" have supposedly returned after Metal. So Kara should have memories of her Pre-Crisis and Post-Crisis lives. She MUST be more mature than this.

Sometimes I think whoever is tasked with the "burdensome" task of writing Supergirl should be forced to read several key stories... although I am not sure what I'd include in a Supergirl "Bible" other than AC #252, AC #276, "The Unknown Supergirl", Superman #149, several specific Silver and Bronze Age stories, DCCP #27-29, "The Great Darkness Saga", Crisis on Infinite Earths #4 and 7, Sterling Gates' run. Maybe Red Daughter of Krypton as an example of a well-done angry Supergirl story.

Anonymous said...

Hello from a french fan of supergirl,

All my inrest was wasted when i read John's note. He has never seen a Kara who is apologetic or angry.

Euh ... what to say ? her mento is help, hope and compassion for all, how many times do you have to repeat it ?

Anonymous said...

There are no winners here. DC doesn't sell. We get comics we dislike.

Whoever still touts this Kara at DC has too much power and too little self-critique.

Or maybe it's just someone who actually wants to act destructive against the character. There is no shortage of Kara haters and some are statistically within DCs own walls.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments!

This one was rough, another example of how DC doesn't get Kara still. And her solo Future State series is another disaster.

Yes, all I want his hope, help, and compassion for all.

Maybe the next iteration .. but I won't hold my breath either.