Future State: Superman Worlds of War #2 – Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Becky Cloonan/Michael W. Conrad, Jeremy Adams, Brandon Easton, Writers; Mikel Janin, Gleb Melnikov, Siya Oum, Valentine De Landro, Artists; Jordie Bellaire, Marissa Louise, Hi-Fi, Colorists
Ray – 8.5/10
Ray: The four stories in this super-sized issue conclude—for now—as Superman and his allies battle to liberate Warworld. First up is the main Superman story by Johnson and Janin, and it’s just as compelling as the first chapter. While a young woman searches for the origins of Superman in Smallville, she shares with her companion one of the stories Clark Kent wrote for the Daily Planet—a biography of a black man who fought in WW2 and lived a hard, purposeful life that never brought him the accolades he deserved—but changed the world nonetheless. That informs the hopeless, brutal fight the captured Superman faces one day at a time on Warworld, as he refuses to escape Mongul’s captivity until he’s rescued every single slave on the mechanical world. It’s a very Superman-esque thing to do, and the confrontations between hero and villain are brilliantly intense. It doesn’t quite end—Johnson will be going solo on a Superman one-shot later in the month—but it’s a great setup for Johnson’s run.
Easton and De Landro bring their four-part Mister Miracle story—which jumped between the two Superman titles—to a close this issue, but they’re getting a spin-off as well. This is only ten pages, so the story is a little rushed, but that works with the tone. This is a high-speed adventure as Shiloh Norman escapes death in every panel and makes a last-ditch attempt to get a message back to Earth. The fate of that message is a clever twist, albeit one that requires quite a bit of exposition. Norman hasn’t had a standout story since Grant Morrison’s legendary “Seven Soldiers,” so watching him get his chance to shine in this deep-space thriller is pretty entertaining. Looking forward to his spinoff in May.
Next up is the conclusion of the Cloonan/Conrad/Melnikov Midnighter story, which ended with the shocking reveal that Midnighter was up against… Apollo? It doesn’t take long for them to reveal the truth behind the face, and I like that the writers didn’t drag out the angst. There is too much crazy, pulpy ’90s-influenced action to get to. Midnighter soon finds himself in battle against a ruthless enemy who seems unkillable, and that’s only the start. A time paradox soon brings a very surprising character into the fight, and the end of this full-length story brings multiple Midnighters into play. The story has more to do with the upcoming regular backup feature than it does with the ongoing Warworld plot—I actually would have liked to see Midnighter raise a little hell on Warworld. But it’s good to see someone besides Steve Orlando wants to give the Authority’s best character the attention he deserves.
Finally, it’s Jeremy Adams and Siya Oum on the conclusion of their reinvention of Black Racer. This is the fastest-paced story of the issue, with the young woman who bonded with the Black Racer finding herself in a high-intensity race against the guards of Warworld. Although the Black Racer has always been a neutral source of death, she quickly chooses to use her powers for heroism—even if it means leading an army of slaves out of Warworld. I’m not sure how she exactly fits into Superman’s story, but the Black Racer was a big part of Flash’s world—and Adams is taking over that title next month. This character has hardly had any time to shine yet, but I’m hoping that changes in upcoming stories. A solid volume with no real weak points.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.