Future State: Superman vs. Imperious Lex #1 – Mark Russell, Writer; Steve Pugh, Artist; Romulo Fajardo Jr, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Ray: And now for something completely different! Everyone knew that Mark Russell probably wouldn’t be interested in doing a straight-forward event tie-in. His Future State issue isn’t so much a look at the future of the DCU as one of his politically relevant parodies—it refers to Lex as a “Cake Thief” at one point. Focusing on the United Planets, it’s set in a world where Lex Luthor has built his own corporate planet after being chased off Earth. The planet runs on an economy of corruption, a cult of personality, and a gang of killer robots that are being sent to other planets to rob them blind and enslave the natives. And they just applied for membership in the United Planets. That’s a good hook, and this issue’s take on the UP is more compelling than most—set about thirty years in the future, it’s not just led by one of the Guardians of the Universe, but it has Lois Lane as Earth’s representative.
Despite the comic tone, this is a pretty great Superman story—it shows how Superman came across Lexor for the first time, and how he played a role in shutting down Luthor’s scam. That created a crisis for the planet that he feels obligated to resolve—something that’s highly in character. There are a lot of great details in Luthor’s characterization as well. A subtle touch in his appearance hints at his vanity. This character could have easily been a one-note Trump parody, but Russell seems to want to make more timeless comparisons and take on colonialism and corporate corruption as a whole. This is a more evil Luthor than we’ve seen in a while, but it’s also one that Russell seems to have an odd sense of compassion for. Less overtly funny or absurd than many of his DC works and less overtly angry and topical than many of his indie works, this might be the closest Russell has come to fitting into the DCU. Not that we’d actually want him to—his unique style is what makes his work great.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.