It’s quite clear at this point that DC Comics is taking chances with their Future State books. For that reason, I loved Future State: Superman: Worlds of War #1. It’s a collection of stories, and its main story is about what Superman means to people on Earth. In the second issue, Superman fights on Warworld, but he lives on in our thoughts here on Earth regardless. In this second issue, each story comes with an ending in some form or another.
The main story continues the story of a girl trying to find something. She’s made her way through commercialized Superman artifacts as well as navigated some interesting points of view on Superman. As she seeks out Superman’s real home, writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Mikel Janin take us through how Clark Kent wrote a story about a World War II hero named Edgar Watters. It’s an interesting tale told via captions about a man who died homeless and alone, but Clark knew him and his story well. It’s about heroes living among us when their heroism has been forgotten. It gives them this story a heavy heart and a deeper meaning.
This tragic story is intercut with Superman fighting off Mongul’s hordes in a gladiatorial ring on Warworld. Juxtaposing these stories helps convey Superman’s relentlessness and ability to never give up. As he slices epically thanks to Janin’s lines, we get the sense that maybe he’s thinking about Watters and using the strength Watters exhibited in his life to get through the current hell he lives through. This is an effective way of connecting Superman to a normal human’s life. It doesn’t take powers to be great and to do great things, but the resolve and tenacity to endure.
Janin’s art, aided by Jordie Bellaire’s colors, is exciting with slicing layout design in the case of Superman and more measured and steady layouts back on Earth. The crosscutting works well, especially with Janin’s wildly unconventional Superman fight scenes as he uses a sword to fight off the baddies. Creature design is great, with nondescript but scary-looking beasts taking on Superman. Cast in red, Bellaire creates an alien atmosphere that plays off the cool blues of the night on Earth.
Next up is the conclusion chapter for Mister Miracle by Brandon Easton and Valentine De Landro. This has some great sci-fi ideas as Mister Miracle attempts to contact Earth and warn them. Tucked away in the darker-toned art and science fiction concepts is an escape that suits the character and is wildly entertaining.
Following this tale is a story by Becky Cloonan, Michael Conrad, and Michael Avon Oeming. This tale requires some clever thinking on Midnighter’s part and it plays into his ability to pivot in even the direst of situations. He’s up against his lover Apollo (or is he?), and much of the narrative is about the dangerous power source Midnighter is trying to turn off. This all builds towards a finish that should be interesting to follow up on in Action Comics #1029. Oeming’s art is fabulous and expressive. There’s a weight to his style that suits a punching and kicking sort of hero like Midnighter.
The final story by Siya Oum and Jeremy Adams is focused on Future State Black Racer. It’s a cool story with great visuals — the costume design by Oum is out of this world. Colors by Hi-Fi lean into the brighter, cartoony side of things. This story, like all the rest, ties into Warworld in a way that makes you want to learn more about it. How does it work, what layers are there to it, and will we get to see more? It’s a good example of showing just enough to gain interest from the audience.
I do have a few gripes for this issue, which mainly deal in overindulging on certain aspects. In the main story, the captions about Watters go on and on. You get the point, but it starts to become preachy in its messaging. In the Midnighter story, there’s a lot of talk amongst a rather simplistic fight scene. It grows a bit tiresome and could have used some cutting. The Mister Miracle story is good, but also a touch confusing.
All in all, Future State: Superman: Worlds of War #2 is an interesting exploration of different themes for each character. From Black Racer being okay with being the embodiment of death to Superman never giving up, there is something here for fans of each character. Enjoy this for its ability to tell each story apart from continuity and do so on its own terms.
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