THIS WEEK: The DC Round-Up crew once again convenes to discuss the antepenultimate week of Future State releases! Which new DC Comics releases stood out to the team, and what failed to live up to expectations?
Joe Grunenwald: Another week, another round of Future State titles wrapped, and only two weeks left in the event after this one. What did you all think of this week’s offerings overall?
Cori McCreery: Honestly, probably my least favorite week of the event since the last time we saw this particular line-up of books.
Greg Silber: I feel the same way. Unlike last week, of the books we disliked last time around, none of them saw a marked improvement this week. And at least one of the books that we found middling got worse. The good titles are still good though!
Zack Quaintance: I wasn’t surprised by anything this week. The books I expected to like, I liked! The books I expected to like less, well, same deal.
Grunenwald: I actually thought one of the books improved over its predecessor, though only in maybe the last ten pages or so. Otherwise I agree that there weren’t any big surprises here quality-wise.
Quaintance: Joe, please do not be so coy. Which book are you referring to?
McCreery: Yeah Joe, SPILL
Grunenwald: I’m afraid I’m going to get smacked in the mouth by Cori for this, but it was Future State: Kara Zor-El, Superwoman.
Quaintance: Hold up, going to get some popcorn real quick…
Silber: I can feel Cori winding up her fist through the internet.
McCreery: I mean, it was fine, and probably a little improved over last month, but it’s still not what I wanted from a Kara Zor-El story. It didn’t help that it wound up with both her and Krypto dead.
Grunenwald: It is far from a perfect book, and the first half or so is more of the same angry Kara we got last month. But I thought the last ten pages or so were really lovely. I agree that I don’t love the closing shot on side-by-side graves, but what’re you gonna do.
Silber: Marguerite Sauvage certainly turned in beautiful pages, regardless of what one thinks of the material.
Grunenwald: Most definitely. The massive translucent aliens were pretty stunning visually.
McCreery: Yeah, it was a REALLY pretty book. I would love to see her on a title where Supergirl actually gets to be Supergirl and not Angry McMadface.
Quaintance: I definitely liked this week’s comic better than the first issue of that story, but overall the only lasting impression it made on me was with the artwork, which was lushly colored and evocative of a fairy tale in a way I really enjoyed.
Silber: Story-wise, I didn’t hate it. It’s just forgettable.
Grunenwald: Agreed. It doesn’t take as big a swing as some of the other books do, for better or worse, which at least makes them memorable even if they don’t land all the time.
I’m thinking primarily of the main story in Future State: Green Lantern here, a story that strips away the regular trappings of a GL story for more of a straight sci-fi story.
McCreery: You stopped my really bad baseball analogy with that transition, good job Joe.
Quaintance: Have to imagine that was something about not being a home run but being a really attractive bunt, etc.
McCreery: I really disliked the main story in Green Lantern too. It really annoys me that one of the lasting contributions of the Justice League cartoon to the DC mythos is that it made the “speak truth to the power” character of John Stewart just another Black military man, and this story really just honed in on that. Back in my day he was just an architect with a lot of trauma about being responsible for the death of a planet.
Silber: I respect the boldness of doing a Green Lantern story without any magic ring stuff, but I didn’t… get it? I don’t think I’d say it’s bad, but it’s a real case of “not for me.”
Grunenwald: That was my issue with the main story, too: it’s trying to do something, and it’s fine, but I didn’t care for it. As a preview of what Geoffrey Thorne is going to do on the main GL title, this did nothing to get me excited for that because it seems to bear no resemblance to anything, which is disappointing.
Silber: Plus, I really enjoyed the backups last issue, and the backups in this issue did nothing for me.
McCreery: Same. I don’t care about Hal Jordan at all. Not even a little bit. And the Teen Lantern story was so forgettable that I forgot it.
Silber: The moment he showed up I said under my breath “ugh fucking Hal.”
Quaintance: I was so checked out by the end of that book that I don’t have much of anything to say about it.
Grunenwald: I liked the Teen Lantern/Mogo story, though again it felt like the beginning of a story that I don’t know that we’re going to see any more of. And I actually thought, of all of the GL stories, the Hal Jordan story was the most effective look at the Future State status quo for the GLs. I wish that had been in the first issue of the series rather than the second.
McCreery: Apparently, that’s a story that’s getting continued in the main book going forward so, yay, more Hal.
Silber: Give Mogo an ongoing title instead.
Grunenwald: None of the backups were as strong this time around as they were in the first issue, but I still enjoyed them more overall than I did the main feature. A book where I didn’t have that problem was Future State: Justice League.
McCreery: Yeah! I thought that entire book was exceptionally strong.
Quaintance: Justice League was really great. Thematically, I thought it had one of the most interesting concepts of the entire event, dealing with intimacy between teammates in an era where it’s so hard to trust others, because getting close to people can literally be lethal.
McCreery: I’m an absolute sucker for Hyperclan stuff too. Like they’re one of Grant Morrison’s best contributions to the DC Universe, and that’s saying a lot. And I really loved the “You didn’t hum” right before Jon decked one of them.
Silber: I can see Joshua Williamson on the ongoing JL title someday. He demonstrated a great handle on team dynamics, which is not a skill shared by all Big 2 regulars. I love how they saved the day by demonstrating how well they knew each other, in contrast to their rule about NOT being friends. And Cori, I LOVE that this Batman hums theme music to himself. That’s such a fun idea! I’m surprised nobody’s done that before.
McCreery: Bruce is too SRS BZNS to do it, but I could have seen it for Dick Batman for sure.
Grunenwald: It’s a really fun little detail that adds more personality to him than anything that’s been done in The Next Batman. I liked everything about the main story. Robson Rocha, Daniel Henriques, and Romulo Fajardo Jr.‘s art was solid. The character interactions were wonderful. It was also just a really satisfying two-issue story, with great action and some really nice development for the team overall. I sincerely hope we see more of this team at some point. The JL Dark back-up story was also really excellent.
Silber: Detective Chimp as Etrigan is such a wild idea, I love it. He’s a monkey! With a sword! And a little Sherlock Holmes detective hat! And also he’s a demon now! It’s so many things and just thinking about it makes me smile from ear to ear.
McCreery: Gone, Gone Simian!
Silber: There’s a good primate joke in another book this week, but we’ll talk about that later.
Grunenwald: Detective Chimp has been the source of real pathos in several recent comics (the other being the Williamson-written “Doom Metal” arc in Justice League) and I really enjoy that for him, but I also hope he gets to solve some fun small-scale mysteries soon.
McCreery: Yeah just let him bartend and solve some petty crimes.
Silber: Now that more DC creators are on board with the pure joy that is Detective Chimp, I would like to see him get more solo detective stories. But in the meantime, I’m utterly delighted that he’s gotten so much exposure lately. His name is DETECTIVE CHIMP! If that alone doesn’t make you giddy your tastes and mine will never align.
Quaintance: Remember that detective team that got teased in one of the recent anthology comics? It was like some kind of secret society of crime solvers. That was a cool idea, and I hope it comes back around at some point.
Grunenwald: They were a key element of the Batman: The Brave and the Bold meets Scooby Doo animated movie. Just a fun fact.
Quaintance: Super fun. I know that sounds sarcastic, but I assure you it is not.
Grunenwald: Speaking of Batman! Let’s talk about Dark Detective #3.
McCreery: I had a lot of fun with Dark Detective! I really like the trope of “Paranoid bastard is actually right this time.”
Silber: I’m enjoying this series a ton, plus the Grifter story’s conclusion was more satisfying than a lot of the backup endings we’ve gotten.
Quaintance: Backup or main story really. That’s maybe the best ending to any of these comics we’ve gotten so far.
Silber: “Asshole decides not to be an asshole, just this once” is a trope that will always work for me.
Grunenwald: I never expected a Grifter story to be one of my favorite parts of Future State overall, but here we are. Matthew Rosenberg has made me a believer.
McCreery: I believe Joe had a very valid question about Grifter though.
Grunenwald: It was less a question and more of a comment, and it’s this: Grifter’s mask is the most impractical mask I’ve ever seen. It would always be flapping up over his eyes when he’s fighting and jumping and I don’t know how it hasn’t killed him on numerous occasions already. But it looks cool, which I’m sure is what Jim Lee was going for.
Quaintance: Now that I’ve been wearing a mask for basically a year, I can also guarantee it would sag and he’d have to be realigning it with his eyes constantly.
Grunenwald: ‘Here’s a guy who wears a washcloth with eye holes on his face.’
McCreery: Yeah it’s a bad mask, but hey this might be the first time I’ve ever liked a Rosenberg story, so I’ll let it slide.
Grunenwald: Yeah, that story was great fun and I can see why people like Grifter. He reminded me of a scummier version of Matt Fraction and David Aja‘s Hawkeye, which I’m sure was the intended goal, considering some of the allusions to Clint in the narration.
McCreery: I would not trust a dog’s safety to Grifter.
Silber: Real “okay, this looks bad” vibes.
Grunenwald: Exactly. So regarding the main story, I need to call shenanigans on something. The cover has The Next Batman swooping in like he’s going to play a big part in the story, but then he only shows up for three pages and it’s basically just to say hello and then walk away. Talk about false advertising!
Silber: That was a crucial scene though!
Grunenwald: If Batman is going to meet The Next Batman, that feels like it should be A Thing. Maybe it not being A Thing was the point but I wanted it to be a little bigger than it was.
Quaintance: Well, I for one am scandalized that one of the big 2 corporate publishers pulled a mild cover art bait and switch. For shame!
McCreery: I did really enjoy the “I invented that line” moment though.
Silber: I for one enjoyed their relationship, especially that line. I hope it’s explored in the follow-up The Next Batman series.
Grunenwald: It was a fine scene! I just wanted it to be bigger. Sidenote: one thing I’m really excited about for the upcoming Future State: Gotham series is to see all of this stuff explored and expanded in a more meaningful way.
McCreery: And here I thought Zack was gonna be the one that said the ongoing looks promising.
Silber: There’s so much to mine from these books, and yeah, it would be a shame to let that go unexplored.
Grunenwald: Zack’s too busy mocking my apparent naïveté about corporate comics covers.
Quaintance: I’m always the one who says this book makes the ongoing look promising! But yes, I was sitting back and chuckling to myself about my witty rejoinder when Joe swooped in and took my thing.
Grunenwald: While we’re in Gotham, what did everyone think of the Robin Eternal finale?
McCreery: Uh, I forgot that even happened this week.
Silber: I… didn’t think much about it period.
Quaintance: I have a question: so that green ooze made Tim Drake immortal?
Silber: Something like that? It was surprisingly hard to follow.
Grunenwald: Yes, the Secret of that Ooze was that it was made from Lazarus Pit stuff. (Which was not a secret, actually, it was established in the first issue.) Am I the only one who enjoyed that book?
Quaintance: I didn’t mind it. I’m going to use my other Future State discussion catchphrase line and point out that the artwork by Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, and Adriano Lucas was very good.
McCreery: I was just meh on it really. I loved seeing Steph and all but really, like Zack said I kind of felt the art team was too good for the rest of the book.
Silber: That whole art team is so underrated Zack. I loved what they did throughout the Rebirth Detective Comics run.
Grunenwald: Yeah, Barrows, Ferreira, and Lucas are excellent. I enjoyed the story across these two issues, too. It’s a fairly straight-forward caper so all the best stuff happens when it goes awry, and Tim fighting with Lazarus Pit Madness in this issue was very entertaining. There are also some nice dialogue callbacks from Meghan Fitzmartin to Tim’s first appearance, which I really appreciated as those are very formative comics for me.
McCreery: We’ve got two books left, do we want to finish with the high note?
Grunenwald: Sure, let’s talk Future State: Teen Titans first.
Silber: UGH. FINE.
McCreery: What a gutless wreck of a comic.
Grunenwald: I know I said some positive things about Teen Titans after the first issue. I said those things with the expectation that anything would be resolved in this issue. Clearly I was mistaken. Instead it turns out this book was all just reverse set-up for the upcoming Teen Titans Academy series, and not in a good way.
Silber: This was bad in ways I didn’t even know a comic could be bad.
McCreery: Remember how I joked about how it’d be hilarious if this had a note that it would be resolved in Shazam? Well it wasn’t actually hilarious.
Grunenwald: It wasn’t ‘Funny Ha Ha’ as much as it was ‘Funny Uuuugh’.
Quaintance: I’m going to admit that I didn’t really understand how the connection to the forthcoming Teen Titans Academy worked…as a means of pointing out that not much in this comic made me care to want to know.
Grunenwald: Teen Titans Academy is about how things got so bad! Now you can see what the Titanic looked like before it sank!
Silber: It’ll be resolved in a forthcoming new title… but also it’s a sequel to that Flash comic even though that’s not clear if you aren’t reading both… but also it’s continued in Shazam.
McCreery: I thought the point of Future State was to show us bad futures that could happen if we don’t fix the now, and I really don’t want one that’s inevitable.
Quaintance: I just want it all to stop.
Silber: Question: why aren’t these just all folded into one miniseries? Or at least made clear from the cover that it’s a multi-series crossover. “Part 5 of 6” ya know?
Grunenwald: Shhhhhhhhhh shhhhhhhh
McCreery: It’s nice that all three of the worst titles of Future State are all connected so that you can skip them all.
Quaintance: Imagine picking up Shazam and being like, hey, I like the idea that a child can use magic to — oh no, oh mother of god, no!
Silber: That’s the thing that keeps getting to me. Imagine you’re a kid, and you only have a few dollars to spend but you like Teen Titans so you add it to your pull and nothing else. Wouldn’t you be mystified? And pissed?
Grunenwald: I still have no idea how what happened in Teen Titans is tied to what was going on in Shazam.
McCreery: Zack you mean almost every Shazam! comic of the last decade?
Quaintance: I actually was kind of thinking about that.
Grunenwald: Let’s talk about something more pleasant – the last book of the week, Future State: Superman/Wonder Woman.
Quaintance: This is what we here in the comics crit biz (where no one ever makes notable money) refer to as “a good one.”
McCreery: GOD I LOVE YARA FLOR.
Silber: I like Jon a lot–more than most SuperFam fans, I think–and this is the most I’ve ever liked Jon.
Quaintance: It’s a great solid comic that realizes the full potential of both lead characters in interesting ways. Sign. Me. Up.
McCreery: I’m honestly amazed at how well all three books that had Yara in them did with establishing her as a fully rounded character. Also as very dumb and very strong, and I love that in a character.
Grunenwald: Is Yara a female himbo? She is an absolute delight.
Silber: I was just wondering the same thing! It’s not often that you get a female superhero who’s dumb and strong, but she wears it so well.
McCreery: She absolutely is Joe, and the term for that is Shimbo. She is DC equivalent of Illyana Rasputin and I need a crossover so Yara and Yana can meet and be stupid together.
Grunenwald: (‘Be stupid’ is clearly a euphemism.)
Quaintance: Between this review and Joe’s Robin review, I think it’s safe to say it was a strong week for Shimbos and Timbos. Thank you, I’m out! Good night, everyone!
Grunenwald: Bye, Zack!
McCreery: Tip your waitstaff!
Grunenwald: I loved the completely Silver Age conceit of this story, though, and the execution was flawless. I also felt like Leila Del Duca‘s art was a little stronger here than it was on the first issue. And the characterization of Jon and how he handles the responsibility of being Superman was spectacular.
McCreery: Yeah, switching enemies was a lot of fun too.
Silber: Which led to Wonder Woman and Superman winning by being smarter and stronger than their enemies expected, respectively. Classic superhero fun, I’m in love.
Grunenwald: I don’t know what writer Dan Watters is working on next but if it’s of this quality I can’t wait to read it.
McCreery: Same Joe, this was absolute the highlight book of the week for me. Sadly, since I read in alphabetical order, I finished with Teen Titans instead.
Grunenwald: At least we didn’t end on that one here. And at least it’s over! Does anyone have any final thoughts about this week’s books?
Silber: It’s not over! Shazam is still happening!
Silber: I do have an important final thought about Teen Titans, actually.
McCreery: Is it that they should have let Gar say “Dickstroke”?
Silber: GORILLA GREGG. He doesn’t really do anything but he’s the Sensational Character Find of 2021 based to his name alone. I must insist that superhero comics add more apes, and more superheroes named Greg.
Grunenwald: I bet he and Totally Tubular will get up to some trouble in Teen Titans Academy. And <checks notes> Bratgirl?
Silber: Not a fan of that name but at least there is a new Greg superhero. And also he is a gorilla.
Grunenwald: On that note, we’ll be back next week!
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