THIS WEEK: The DC Round-Up team convenes yet again to discuss the six new titles from DC Future State Week Four, a group with lots of very welcome weirdness and no duds.
(WARNING: The following contains mild spoilers for this week’s DC Comics Future State titles.)
Zack Quaintance: Hey team! Welcome back to what I think is week four of Future State. We’ve still got a few new #1s, so anyone want to start with some general thoughts about this last wave of new titles?
Cori McCreery: Well it’s the first week without any actual stinkers, so that’s nice!
Greg Silber: Good stuff. I think I’m running out of things to say about Future State as a whole, but this week didn’t have a single bad comic, and there was at least one #1 that I loved.
Quaintance: I too am running out of stuff to say, but I do have one big take! Which I think this is the week that (surprisingly) felt like it exercised the most freedom. Mostly thinking here of Superman vs. Imperious Lex, and Suicide Squad, which would not have been my first guess for the book that did the most stuff with the multiverse.
Silber: Yeah, Suicide Squad–or perhaps more accurately, JUSTICE SQUAD–was a nice surprise. I knew I’d like the Mark Russell comic, but I was more skeptical about the umpteenth “evil justice league” story.
McCreery: Truly, I was the most surprised by how much I actually enjoyed Suicide Squad. It felt like a DC version of Dark Reign, which is a concept I really liked even if that one didn’t deliver as much as I’d like it to.
McCreery: Well he is a clone.
Quaintance: They kind of played the aspect that usually gets twisted as evil into a benefit.
McCreery: Yeah I love that Waller is trying to utilize the Luthor part of him, but the Kent is too strong.
Quaintance: So good. Overall, I just really enjoyed how entirely unpredictable the Suicide Squad comic felt from start to finish. What did you all think of the Black Adam backup there?
Silber: Nice use of prose narration, which isn’t something you see a whole lot of these days!
McCreery: The Black Adam backup was cool, though you still don’t appreciate the Justice Legion A appearance, Zack.
Quaintance: Not yet! But I am rapidly progressing toward DC One Million in my ongoing Morrison JLA read.
McCreery: I have faith you’ll love it, and I really appreciate how much Future State books have pulled from Morrison, honestly.
McCreery: Feels like they’re trying to take and run with their big ideas, and it’s just refreshing.
Quaintance: What I DID appreciate (you all like that deflection?) was Fernando Pasarin’s artwork in the Black Adam story. Just more excellence from one of DC’s most underrated artists. Who killed it on both Deathstroke and Hawkman of late.
Silber: I loved the way he drew a “nice” Black Adam. So happy!
McCreery: Also, I absolutely did not expect this backup to be the one that introduces Gold Beetle.
Quaintance: That was such an amazing and excellent surprise.
Silber: Is there an Eisner for “most surprising use of La Cucharacha”?
McCreeery: If not, there should be.
Quaintance: I’m in favor of a general increase of La Cucaracha industry-wide. That’s the great DC Comics insights they come here for, btw. My other favorite this week was Superman vs. Imperious Lex, but maybe we’ll save that one for the end. What did you all think of Aquaman?
McCreery: Aquaman was fine, it was probably the least interesting book for me personally, though I did enjoy the multiversal ocean.
Quaintance: I’m right there with you. For me that book was a cool idea for a multiversal ocean sort of just hung up on a pretty rote comic.
Silber: It’s a very pretty book. And I like Aquawoman’s design. Adult Aqualad-turned-Aquaman looked great too.
Quaintance: It’s definitely one I don’t have all that much to say about.
McCreery: Yeah the book looked great, but I just feel like something was lacking overall. Probably because Andy felt a little duller here than she did in Justice League?
Silber: Well, there wasn’t a whole lot of her in general, despite being so prominent on the cover.
Quaintance: Let’s uh ride the multiversal ocean onward! This time to the future, and talk about the Legion comic.
Silber: I’ve never been a Legion guy so I was pretty lost. Don’t have much to say other than that I like the way Riley Rossmo draws those characters.
McCreery: So I’m the Legion mark here, and I really feel like this was Bendis doing his version of the 5YL plot, and you know what? It worked for the most part. It was a little confusing at times, but also, I got what he was doing with it. And like Greg said, Rossmo’s Legion is great.
Quaintance: I’m partway between you two, in that I’m in my spare time slowly reading through old Legion comics. I think Bendis’ run throughout has worked best as an artist showcase. I don’t think his Legion comics are poorly-written or anything, but the art has consistently been what’s for sale with these. This book was no exception. Just kind of a comic where he set up a framework and let Rossmo go wild.
McCreery: I do appreciate the shift from Triplicate Girl to Duo Damsel, even if I don’t really understand why the colors shifted from Cyan/Magenta/Yellow to Gold/Black.
Quaintance: Agree on both counts. I was kind of chalking up the latter to just wanting to do something new visually with it? Seemed like a bit of that going around in this book, which isn’t a criticism. The only other note I had about this one was it felt like a pretty organic extension of the regular series.
Silber: Which I haven’t kept up with, so I wasn’t really expecting to be able to keep up here anyway.
McCreery: Yeah, definitely. Probably the most organic extension in the line in that regard. Might help that the Legion’s in the future already.
Silber: Here’s where I make my “aren’t all Legion comics Future State books” joke.
McCreery: Because most Legion books are a more optimistic future. rim shot
Quaintance: Heh. Speaking of a bleak future (another segue!), what did you all think of Dark Detective #2? That was an outlier this week, in that it was the only comic that wasn’t a new #1.
Silber: I liked it! It was a more expository issue which was a bit of a drag compared to the first one, but I think it was executed quite well. I’m so excited for Tamaki and Mora to move onto their mainline DCU ‘Tec series.
Quaintance: They’re really working well together. Mora (unsurprisingly) is just a force.
McCreery: Mora in particular did a fantastic cyberpunk romp, and I loved every minute of it.
Quaintance: I was pleased to see that the team so adeptly handled dumping so much info, which was sort of needed to fill in exposition for a bunch of other Future State books. Bodes well for their regular series run.
McCreery: I also really loved the paranoid landlord. Love that dude, wanna see more of him.
Silber: You could also tell that Tamaki knows how to set up a mystery, which isn’t as much of a prerequisite for writing Detective Comics as one might think.
Quaintance: What did you all think of the Red Hood backup?
Silber: I didn’t like it as much as that Grifter story from last time, but I really loved the art. I liked the dynamic between Jason and Rose, and I was glad to see Vigilante make a rare appearance.
McCreery: LOVED IT actually, it’s nice to have Jason stories that aren’t written by Scott Lobdell.
Quaintance: Lobdell to Josh Williamson is such a nice switch. That story also looked great, in a way I think mainline DC is sometimes hesitant to embrace with Bat-family comics. Giannis Milonogiannis is a really idosyncratic choice for Gotham, and I loved it.
Silber: If this could be the vibe for Red Hood going forward, I’d be extremely into it.
McCreery: I also loved the feuding ideologies of Jason and Rose as “mask hunters”. Bruce would almost be proud of you if you weren’t working for the fash Jaybird.
Quaintance: Hey yeah, there was some irony there.
Silber: Another well-executed case of a conflicted protagonist this week.
Quaintance: Let’s stay in Gotham, and move on to Future State: Batman/Superman. This is the start of Gene Luen Yang writing the series moving forward.
Silber: Oh man, this was the title I was most excited for this week, and it did not disappoint. I love how Yang writes Batman, and his adorable hesitance to admit Superman’s his friend. And boy do I love how he writes Superman, as evidenced by my rave review of Superman Smashes the Klan last year.
McCreery: I didn’t read the solicit for this I guess, because I was surprised that it was Bruce and Clark.
Quaintance: It was the last ride of Bruce and Clark, I think, before the narrative wills of Future State tore them apart.
Silber: I love that approach, and kind of wish other Future State titles had done something similar.
McCreery: And yeah, Greg, I loved Yang’s Clark here. He’s just a ball of sunshine and doesn’t operate the best in Gotham, but darnit, who cares.
Quaintance: The banter between the two heroes was really great.
Silber: Something I’ve noticed about Yang’s DC work: he always seems to write for an all-ages audience, even if the title doesn’t necessarily require that. It’s old-fashioned in a forward-thinking way, which applies to a lot of Yang’s output.
Quaintance: I had a similar feeling reading this one as I did with Dark Detective, which is that this series is in good hands moving forward, and the reason I felt that way was the banter between the two leads. The ongoing series, as I understand it, will depict their relationship through different eras (and maybe worlds), so the relationship will likely be THE thing that carries over here.
McCreery: Speaking of Superman’s relationships — How bout that Lex Luthor fella?
Quaintance: Respect for that segue…And that comic was just fantastic.
Silber: Between this and that Porky Pig comic from a few years back where Lex creates a Gab/Parler analogue and gets bullied off by Daffy Duck (comics! They’re great!) I want Mark Russell to write Luthor for a good long run.
McCreery: He also wrote a fantastic Lex in Wonder Twins!
Quaintance: Lex is a character just made for a writer like Mark Russell.
McCreery: He’s just so good at playing with the absurdity of comics, and a billionaire supervillains allows all sorts of absurdity. This book also felt oddly prescient coming out the week after the Biden inauguration, with how it treats a dictator who’s empire is failing.
Quaintance: The Russell-Steve Pugh collaboration is also well-travelled in satire and timeliness, and this is just another great book extending their top-tier bonafides.
Silber: Russell is known for great satire, but it’s eerie how perfect this comic is for this precise moment.
McCreery: I also very much appreciate that even an older Clark and Lois are just immediately down to clown in a janitor closet. If there’s one thing that has surprised me about going back to the 1990s Superman of my youth, it’s how absolutely horny those two were all the time for each other.
Quaintance: I also enjoyed horny future Clois.
Silber: And lets face it, Steve Pugh-drawn older Lois still looks FANTASTIC.
McCreery: Oh and while he does absolutely write a fantastic Lex, you can’t ignore how well he writes Clark too.
Silber: He does! I’d follow a Mark Russell Superman comic for 100 issues.
Quaintance: Yeah, Mark Russell is basically the ideal Superman writer, or at least one I’d like to see do a Black Label project in Metropolis.
McCreery: Clark’s argument for WHY to give Lexor a membership in the United Planets was just a perfect Superman characterization. He hates Lex, but he can’t blame the people under Lex’s thumb for that, and its really just a perfect encapsulation of the Man of Steel.
Silber: His Clark isn’t just kind and hopeful, he’s WISE. Which I think is a really difficult quality to write for any character, let alone one as “perfect” as Superman.
Quaintance: Usually we close by asking what new series everyone is still excited for, but I think we’ve got them all debuted now. So…any specific hopes you all have for the second month of this thing?
McCreery: Better second issues for the two disappointing Superbooks.
Silber: I still have hope that the stories that started off weak can turn themselves around. Maybe not that Flash comic though. I don’t know if there’s any coming back from that.
Quaintance: And me? I just want one character (one!) to look directly at the audience and say, “This truly is a FUTURE STATE.” But thank you everyone for reading!
Silber: Have a bright future!
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