Superman of Metropolis is a strange book, in that it is really a descendant of three separate ideas smushed together into one Frankenstein’s Monster of a comic. Like Frankenstein’s Monster, it is smarter than it appears . . . but also like Frankenstein’s Monster, maybe it should have been chased down by a mob of peasants and lit on fire.
Future State owes a lot to the 2014-2015 DC event Futures End. Futures End was also a glimpse at five years into the DC Universe’s future, where many of the superheroes have retired and been replaced by new, younger and often more ethnically diverse replacements. And like Futures End, Future State is very much of the moment – it’s borrowing ideas that are kicking around in the main books, and very much setting up the next couple years’ worth of plots: Yara Flor, the new Wonder Woman, is the obvious example.
But it also borrows from DC One Million, and in a broader sense, all of Grant Morrison’s plots in general. It’s not a coincidence that the backups in Superman of Metropolis are about the version of the Guardian that Morrison created, and the version of Mister Miracle that Morrison popularized. Even the antagonist, Brain Cells, is very much in the vein of Solaris, and the shrinking of Metropolis into a bubble is a Morrison plot straight from Action Comics.
And, finally, Future State owes from the book that this originally was, a part of the 5G relaunch that was just going to have this new status quo – with Jon Kent as Superman – actually be the status quo, rather than a short-term event.
The result is a book that is thematically incoherent, confusingly written, and seemingly unsure of what it wants to be, but is filled with just fascinating ideas and concepts that I would love to see developed in a longer series.
So, the main story follows Superman, Jon Kent, as he tries to stop the Brainiac-based intelligence called Brain Cells from using his army of mind-controlled minions to conquer Metropolis. Jon decides to do that by . . . bottling the city. No, it doesn’t make sense to me either. He has a fight with Brain Cells, Supergirl, and the army, and then Brain Cells steals Metropolis and flies away. Pretty straightforward.
(Incidentally, this book does namedrop Jon fighting ‘time luchadores,’ and I would much rather be reading that story.)
The backups then follow other heroes now trapped in Metropolis. Shilo Norman, Mister Miracle, tries to escape and is instead attacked by death robots; Jake Jordan, the Guardian, is helping Jimmy Olsen and the people of Metropolis while they’re stuck inside the dome. And it’s . . . fine. It’s fine.
That’s really the best praise that I can give it. The art is fine, the dialogue is fine, the plot is fine. It never quite reaches good, but there’s nothing wrong with it. If anything, the disappointment is that these great ideas, these really fascinating seeds that are being plotted, this world that we are being shown, can only be explored in this issue and the next. If this was the first issue of a new Superman series, I think I would be a lot more complimentary. But it isn’t. And for a miniseries’ opening, I can’t help but be let down.
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