THIS WEEK: The full DC Round-Up crew comes together to discuss the second week of DC’s Future State event. Which of this week’s seven titles hit the mark, and which left something to be desired?
Zack Quaintance: The second week of Future State is now, and I was thinking we’d start this discussion off with the same question as last week: how is everyone currently (still!) feeling about the event?
Cori McCreery: Well I didn’t join last week, because I was lazy and burned out and didn’t actually read the books until this week. So uh, less lazy, still burned out, and just tired of dark futures. Specifically tired of dark fascist futures. I live in a fascist now, I don’t need to see it in my escapist literature all the time.
Greg Silber: I was cautiously optimistic about Future State last week, but I’m a lot colder on the concept now. Once again, there are some incredibly talented creators on these books, many of whom I’m excited to see continue on with these characters once the DC Universe returns to a more recognizable state after the event ends in March. But whereas the promotion of Future State promised relative creative freedom, I’m now convinced that the overarching premise is restricting. I wish this was just an excuse for creators to tell futuristic “what if” stories that weren’t interlinked. And as Cori said, not that anyone at DC could’ve predicted we’d have an armed insurrection at the US Capitol, but the “what if America was… more fascist than usual” premise couldn’t have been timed more poorly.
Quaintance: I definitely felt that premise with some of the Gotham comics, but I’m not sure it’s hindering my enjoyment of the overall event the way it seems to be for others. For example, this week I really enjoyed both Justice League and Superman/Wonder Woman. My takeaway is essentially that, oh look, this is a line of comics, which means as always, I’m going to really like some of these books and feel super comfortable totally skipping others.
McCreery: For sure, there’s definitely still enjoyable stuff in the line, but I really feel like reading every DC book that’s come out, every week since Rebirth, has kinda done me in. I’m just really worn down, and finding myself enjoying 30 year old books a lot more than I am current books. But there are definite highlights, and I agree with you on the two you named for those. Those were definitely my picks of the week too.
Quaintance: Justice League seems like a good spot to start talking about the individual series. I really liked that one, and thought it more than maybe any other Future State comic so far felt free and fun. What did you all like specifically about that one?
McCreery: I really liked the idea that despite the rules they’ve put in place, you can’t put your life on the line alongside people and not start to develop bonds with them. We saw that with Superman and Wonder Woman, and we saw it with Flash and Aquawoman. It’s humanizing of godlike characters, and was one of the most enjoyable things in the book for me.
Silber: Justice League was definitely a highlight this week. The stakes are high but in a fun supervillainy way, not in a “if superheroes can’t solve fascism how are we supposed to” way. I love the callbacks to Grant Morrison and Howard Porter‘s JLA, and Robson Rocha‘s art is even a little reminiscent of Porter. Good old fashioned superheroes vs supervillains.
McCreery: Also that REVEAL at the end. Goddamn. Just A+ chef’s kiss. The thing my favorite books have in common this week is they both are pulling from the best Grant Morrison has ever had to offer.
Quaintance: One of the things I also enjoyed was how Justice League did a really good job making it feel like the team already had a shared history and a new status quo. The time the team spent together that we didn’t see was handled really well, doled out with a great opening montage. Some of the other big books last week handled the time gap in ways I found a lot more distracting.
Silber: That’s key. As we discussed last week, there’s not much time to mess around with these books, so creators are forced to throw you right into the action. That’s made some Future State #1s confusing, but Josh Williamson did a great job giving just enough backstory without being overly expository.
Quaintance: I’m curious, Cori, how did you see Superman/Wonder Woman also pulling from Grant Morrison, presuming that’s the other favorite you were referring to…
McCreery: Ahha you are correct, but it’s one of THREE things pulling from the best of Morrison. The other is Ram V giving us Zauriel’s corpse in the JL Dark backup. But to answer your main question… FREAKING SOLARIS MY MAN. THE EVIL SUN FROM DC ONE MILLION WHAT UP.
Silber: Without any Animal Man callbacks (yet) the best of Grant Morrison hasn’t been referenced yet. But I digress.
Joe Grunenwald: The reveal at the end of Justice League made my jaw drop with glee.
Quaintance: The Morrison character references were strong this week, no doubt. But I think these stories also did Morrison’s work justice by working to capture the fantasy elements of the characters in sincere and smart ways. Also, another shared presence in both these comics is Yara Flor. Just put her in every Future State book, please. What a fantastic new character they’ve got.
Silber: I’m still not clear on what her deal is, but I know I like her.
Grunenwald: I enjoyed seeing more of Yara’s personality come out in her interaction with the Sun and Moon gods this week, and her interactions with Superman were also interesting and nicely tinged with shared history. And I agree with Cori that Solaris being that book was pretty great. I also really appreciate that they’re using Yara to bring in a different mythology to Wonder Woman than the same old Greek gods we’ve been seeing for decades now.
McCreery: Love my Shimbo Amazon queen. Best new DC character in ages. She’s fantastic, and I’m so happy that Steve Orlando set up the ability to create her by introducing the South American tribe of Amazons.
Silber: Its kind of shocking that it took 80 years for someone to come up with Amazons who live by the Amazon, isn’t it?
Grunenwald: That is kind of a no-brainer, huh. Along with Yara, Superman/Wonder Woman also gives us a better look of what Jon being Superman is like in actual practice. The whole ‘Good Morning Metropolis’ thing that he does every day is an absolute delight, and the way he tracks issues and calculates how many he can take care of is really interesting. He feels more like Superman in this book than he does in his own book.
McCreery: Yeah, I liked Jon as Superman a lot more here than I did in Superman of Metropolis. Out of three Superfamily books so far, this is the only one I actually enjoyed.
Silber: I’m so glad that adult Jon got a chance to let his personality show in a way that wasn’t dependent on reminding readers that his dad is better. I’d love to see him explored more in that regard, how his optimism manifests differently than it does in his dad.
Grunenwald: It’s also probably worth noting that a lot of these books take place in different time periods, so Superman/Wonder Woman is some 40 years after Superman of Metropolis, which probably accounts for the character differences there.
Quaintance: Ah! That maybe explains why Jon has a cape. Something something he grew into it?
Grunenwald: Possibly. It also looks like Wonder Woman takes place twenty years before Superman/Wonder Woman. Thanks, Future State promo magazine!
McCreery: The varying time jumps is an interesting concept but also I feel like there needs to be more connective tissue to really make it work.
Quaintance: Well now I feel bad for writing a kind of snarky news note about how we got PR announcing that thing, which struck me as essentially PR for more PR. Anyway, should we move on to Gotham then? I know how you all felt about fascism getting drawn into an antagonist, but I have to say, I did enjoy Dark Detective. I thought the neon dystopia looked incredible, with the artwork by Dan Mora and Jordie Bellaire. There’s a cafe splashed with projected ads early in the book that by itself made me think, okay I’m into this.
Grunenwald: Dark Detective was one of the best books of the week in my opinion. I almost wish it had come out prior to The Next Batman, as I feel like it did the job of setting up the Magistrate in Gotham that we needed and didn’t really get from last week’s book.
McCreery: I kinda felt about the same way about Dark Detective that I did about Next Batman, in that the art really drove the story. I feel like [Nick] Derington and Mora really are the two power houses art-wise thus far into this, and both those books are exceedingly pretty.
Quaintance: I definitely agree with that. I can’t tell you the finer points of Dark Detective‘s plot with any degree of confidence (other than Bruce Wayne is alive but everyone thinks he’s dead). However, there are several big splashes that are hanging around in great detail in my brain right now. This comic just felt like a strong visual take on Batman in a way we hadn’t quite seen before, which is really hard to do.
Silber: Dark Detective was my favorite Future State title this week. Even removed from the overarching Magistrate storyline, I friggin’ love the premise of “what if Bruce Wayne became a broke nobody.” It is odd that The Next Batman was released first as this feels better suited to kick off the Gotham storyline, but man, I am just so excited to see where this goes, and I’m even more excited to see what [Mariko] Tamaki and Mora do with Detective Comics once that title starts up again in March.
Quaintance: Oh, and I am nothing if not a mark for all things WildStorm, but I really enjoyed the Grifter backup story in this comic, too.
Grunenwald: I was shocked at how delightful the Grifter back-up was from start to finish. What a perfect introduction to a character.
McCreery: I was actually really surprised at how much I loved the Grifter backup. I have read approximately (he was in what one issue of Batman recently) one issue with Grifter in my life before this, and this one made me want to read a bit more.
Silber: Can confirm Joe, I never read Grifter in anything before this but I’m into it.
Quaintance: So, you heard it here, readers: the Grifter backup is beloved by fans of Grifter old and new. As for the rest of this week’s books, I guess there are four other ones that came out?
McCreery: Robin Eternal happened I guess. It gave us Stephanie Brown with an eyepatch. I wanna know more about that, than I do about whatever the hell is happening with Tim Drake and the Secret of the Ooze.
Quaintance: That might be all there is to say about that comic, which looked great but felt a bit like a backup story stretched to fill a whole issue.
Grunenwald: I was kind of ‘meh’ about Robin Eternal, which is a shame because I was really excited about that one going in. I do enjoy Eddy Barrows‘s work, though.
Silber: I enjoyed Robin Eternal well enough but damn if that didn’t empty out of my brain the moment I finished it. Eddy Barrows is underrated though, and he kills it here.
Grunenwald: But again it felt like it fell into the same generic ‘resistance against fascism’ that some of the other Bat-stories have so far.
McCreery: TELL ME HOW STEPH LOST HER EYE GODDAMNIT
Grunenwald: I’m really curious to know what you all thought of Green Lantern.
Quaintance: If I had to pick a favorite among the other releases this week, it would probably be Green Lantern. Although to me it felt similarly frustrating as The Flash, in that there really wasn’t much Green Lantern-ing going on in it. It felt like more of a sci-fi war comic with some familiar characters involved.
McCreery: I liked the Guy Gardner story in GL the most. That was actually delightful.
Quaintance: That was the one that had the most Green Lantern-ing!
Silber: Green Lantern had maybe the strongest backups so far. Jessica Cruz doing a Die Hard in space!
Grunenwald: I had a bit of a hard time getting into the main story, but once I realized who the characters were and a little bit more info was provided I thought it was a pretty solid sci-fi story. I didn’t love man-eating G’nort though.
Quaintance: The back-up stories in Green Lantern were both good, and the art throughout the comic was all really strong. But that was my struggle too, Joe.
McCreery: You heard it here first folks, Armie Hammer is going to play G’nort.
Grunenwald: The back-up stories were both really great, though.
Quaintance: Agreed agreed. So I guess that leaves Kara Zor-El: Superwoman and Teen Titans to discuss, if we must.
McCreery: I’d like to leave Superwoman til last, so how about the other book that starts at a gravesite?
Quaintance: Having a line of comics free from the creative limitations of the past, and then two of them open with shots of the graves of beloved characters…is a thing I was not expecting.
McCreery: Well yes, you’re free from the past by killing the past. The ol’ Kylo Ren, if you will.
Silber: Titans was my least favorite Future State book so far. Besides having a similar problem as Future State: Flash with being needlessly miserable, it was deeply confusing. Backstory is barely provided, the nonlinear narrative is pointless and jarring, and scenes transition so awkwardly that it’s practically unreadable. Seriously, can any of you explain what happens in this comic?
McCreery: Dick Grayson becomes Deathstroke I guess, I dunno. I just know 90% of my faves are dead and Dick Grayson is going dark and fashy again so whatever.
Grunenwald: Greg was controversial last week, so I’ll be the controversial one this week: I actually kind of enjoyed Titans. I don’t love the murder-y grimdarkness of it, but I enjoyed the character interactions, and I appreciated that some new characters were introduced. I also think this might be Rafa Sandoval‘s best work. The combination of his pencils with Jordi Tarragona‘s inks worked well for me. It certainly made his work look a lot tighter than it did on his issues of Flash, and had almost a Mark Buckingham/Wade Von Grawbadger quality to it in some of the flashbacks.
I also liked how the story was being told, with the flashbacks teasing out information about how the characters got to where they are now. I may also just be a sucker for comics that feature the H-Dial. I don’t love everything about this book, but I enjoyed the telling of the story and I’m interested to see how it wraps up and/or leads in to Teen Titans Academy.
McCreery: Yeah, I get that. I just am really tired of all my faves being twisted into dark evil versions of themselves… which I guess brings us back to Superwoman, and version 812 of Supergirl since 2004 where her primary character trait is “Angry”.
Quaintance: Great segue there. That was also our other gravesite book, and not just any gravesite, but the gravesite for the Superfamily dog.
Grunenwald: Hell of a way to kick off a book.
McCreery: The family dog who is apparently the only reason Kara tries to be a good person, because she felt over shadowed by both Clark and Jon, I guess. As the resident Superfamily meganerd, and the biggest Supergirl fan you’ll ever meet, I’m just tired of this portrayal of Supergirl.
Quaintance: I have to tell you all, while I really really enjoyed the aesthetic and look of this comic, I found it all really dull, and a bit bleak. I also didn’t jot down many more notes past that, figuring at this point we’d mostly yield the floor to Cori.
Silber: I don’t mean to be prescriptive about these things, but I don’t want to read superhero comics about dead super pets. Sorry, but if you do that we’re immediately starting off on the wrong foot. That said, I’m not sure that Kara read as “angry” to me… at least throughout most of the book. Frustrated, sure, and definitely not the happy Supergirl I like, but her emotions were a little more subdued than that… and frankly, this whole book is too subdued for its own good. But damn, if that art isn’t impressive. I really like Kara’s new costume too.
McCreery: Well no, Greg, you’re right. She’s not angry any more, but the whole point of the story is that she’s spent years abandoning her anger. And really, I would rather a Supergirl never having been reliant on anger to begin with.
Silber: I’m with you there.
Grunenwald: I liked the middle of this book. The part where Kara is helping an alien fit in and use her powers to help others on the moon colony was really nice. She also showed infinite patience with an alien girl who seemed like she was just trying to push Kara’s buttons. But the opening and the ending really didn’t work for me. Marguerite Sauvage‘s art is spectacular, though.
Quaintance: The art is very good.
McCreery: And yeah, the book is absolutely gorgeous as we knew it would be with Sauvage on art, but the story leaves a lot to be desired for me, especially since it has to build off of things like, ya know, Kara murdering someone, to get here.
Silber: Mostly, Superwoman bored me. Most of the story is told through exposition, which again feels like a symptom of having too much story for too few pages.
Quaintance: So, since I think this is the last one of these Future State roundtables we have planned, do you all want to close by talking about a forthcoming book from the line you’re still excited for? There’s quite a few new #1s still on their way.
McCreery: We not gonna do this again next week? I wanna do it again!!!!!
Grunenwald: I’m good doing it again for the rest of this month, for all the #1s at least
Quaintance: Okay then, see you all back here next week!
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