In the first half of Future State: Justice League #2, Joshua Williamson and Robson Rocha bring the Justice League of the future into a final confrontation with the supervillains who are seeking to replace them!
A great deal of this story has been focused on how the new League handles the missteps of the previous generation, while simultaneously trying to live up to their impossible standard. It’s in these character moments where this miniseries has really had a chance to shine.
Bringing back the Hyperclan — the first enemies of Morrison’s JLA — is an inspired choice. It’s also a credit to Robson Rocha that the Hyperclan’s designs don’t feel as dated as they could have. They feel appropriately menacing and unhinged, like they’re desperately hanging onto the past (after all, why else would they revert to their “fake hero” forms when no one else is around?).
The reveal of the Hyperclan was a fun surprise in the previous issue, and although some exposition is needed to get newer readers up to speed on their whole deal, it does provide some interesting perspective regarding the present-day Justice League. Without going too much into detail, I will say that the revelation regarding the outcome of the JLA’s last battle with the Hyperclan is chilling.
The choreography in the final showdown is a little bit unclear in some spots. It’s a little bit difficult to tell where the two battling teams are in relation to one another, and so the final resolution to the Hyperclan’s master plan feels likewise unclear. That being said, the Justice League’s ultimate advantage in the fight is a clever twist in the story. I love superhero stories that illustrate the importance of heroes operating like true friends and family, and Williamson found a way to make that particular storytelling trope feel not only fresh, but strategic on the heroes’ part.
If the final page of this story is any indication, there may be some grand things on the horizon for this version of the Justice League. Here’s hoping that we get to see those stories soon!
In the second half of the issue, Ram V and Marcio Takara bring their Justice League Dark story to an interesting close. With Merlin’s forces bringing the pain to the assembled conjurors, Etrigan must now face his fears head-on.
The final battle feels appropriately apocalyptic. While Ragman has taken the form of a dragon and lays waste to Merlin’s forces, John and Zatanna desperately try to appeal to the conscience of one of their former allies. And inside their shared soul, Etrigan and Bobo debate the importance of making their final stand.
Thanks to some elegant dialogue and exceptional artwork, these three parallel moments feel like they have the same weight, with Detective Chimp’s fiery determination feeling just as powerful as Ragman’s actual fire. Whether they’re driven by revenge or by a fear of not living up to someone else’s example, each character has been spurred on by the example of their friends. This thread carries on to the very end of the issue, showing how their faith and understanding in each other may still bring victory, somehow.
The weight of every decision is clear in the expressive faces of the characters. John’s devilish good looks have been marred by scars and an uncertain brow, while Khalid’s stare is full of unknowable sorrow and never-ending hope. Even Etrigan’s inner turmoil is obvious, even when he finally joins the fray. In the midst of a bonkers fight scene, character is still at the forefront. The layouts of these pages are also stunning, with the action flowing seamlessly from one panel to the next.
The purpose behind Fate’s ruse is a little hazy for me, but the information that he reveals at the end of this issue may excuse any holes in his plan. He’s operating with more knowledge than literally every other character, so the ambiguity of some of his words make a certain amount of sense. And much like with Ram V’s Future State: Swamp Thing miniseries, this story manages to find hope and beauty in the darkest of timelines.
Overall, both stories felt like they could have benefitted from another issue or two. These creative teams had the unenviable task of introducing two new team dynamics, a future world in which the stories could take place, and a credible threat that needed to be overcome. There are a few bits that are hazy or feel otherwise truncated, but there’s still a lot to recommend in these two issues.