Future State - Justice League #1
It's the future... state! There's still a Justice League, populated by familiar heroes - but with very different faces behind the masks. Who are they? How do they connect to today's League? What's their major difference? And what happens when the Legion of Doom, lead by a decrepit T.O. Morrow, tries to mount one last offensive against them?
SECOND STORY: It's the Justice League Dark you know and love - but in this future timeline, all magicians, witches, warlocks, and mages are being systematically exterminated by the forces of Merlin himself! What can Detective Chimp, Zatanna, and Etrigan possibly do to save the world?
Welcome to FUTURE STATE!
Future State, just in its second week of publication, continues to be an unexpected gift that keeps on giving. What could have been a trite and even slipshod exercise in forgettability has turned out to be a wealth of storytelling treasure, and Future State: Justice League is no exception.
It helps that the story isn’t set too far into the future, which allows for matured, adult-sized versions of characters we’re familiar with today to shine. This isn’t the first time a “future kids of the heroes you know and love” trope has been used, of course, but writer Joshua Williamson makes it shine by limiting the cast in size, mixing old and new characters alike, and shifting the team dynamics in such a way that what’s old truly does feel new again. Breakout Future State stars Yara Flor and Jess Chambers (they/them) make strong showings, proving worthy of inheriting their respective mantles but also showing they aren’t just carbon-copy knockoffs. Meanwhile, Jon Kent inherits his father’s legacy with quiet strength, and Andy Curry is all grown-up and exhibiting traits from both her mother Mera and father Aquaman in the best ways possible. Add Far Sector heavyweight Jo Mullein as a much more experienced Green Lantern than she is now (“the best detective in the multiverse”), and a brand-new mystery Batman, and you have one heckuva great mix of characters. No one or two character steals the spotlight, and Williamson’s deftly balanced writing gives every character not only a chance to shine, but also to interact between one another in ways that simultaneously feel both new and familiar. It’s genuinely exciting.
Of course, this is a superhero comic, not just a character study! There’s action a-plenty, with an exciting new version of the Legion of Doom, a startling mystery, and a twist at the end that will prove very, very exciting for Fans of a Particular Age who remember the glory days of Grant Morrison’s JLA. To be continued. The art from former Aquaman power trio Robson Rocha, Daniel Henriques, and Romulo Fajardo, Jr. leaps off every page. Some of Rocha’s previous work had been somewhat over-rendered, but that simply isn’t the case here. His strong linework is emboldened but never overpowered by Henriques’ inks, which have a heavy yet controlled quality to them. Fajardo, for his part, knows when to shine and when to hew closer to a darker pallet, creating a dynamism that jumps right off the page. In all, it’s hard to find much to fault with Future State – Justice League. It may not be a revolutionary comic, but it’s just about the most damn solid one you’ll find on the rack this week.
The backup Justice League Dark story by regular series writer Ram V and artists Marcio Takara and Marcelo Maiolo isn’t bad, but not really much of a departure from the monthly book. Much like last week’s Future State – The Flash, even though this story is ostensibly set in the future, it’s hard to see enough differences to really feel it. There’s yet another mystical holocaust afoot, this time instigated by Merlin, which doesn’t really register very strongly considering the past two years and change of the regular monthly book has been all about a mystical holocaust of a similar nature. There simply isn’t enough new in V’s story for it to register very strongly; attaching Etrigan to Bobo instead of Jason Blood makes for a shruggably interesting new dynamic but doesn’t exactly light the world on fire. John Constantine is still doing shady John Constantine things and Zatanna is still doing Zatanna things (albeit sans fishnets and tophat). In all, despite the quasi-future trappings, the JLD tale simply doesn’t do much we haven’t seen before. That’s incredibly unfortunate, because not only is Ram V a frankly brilliant writer, but he seamlessly took JLD over from James Tynion IV without missing a beat. That’s true talent. Seeing him constrained in this fashion, relegated to ostensibly telling the same story he just completed in a slightly different light – especially as compared to the high marks throughout most of the rest of Future State – is frustrating. Still worth reading, of course. At this point in his career, there’s no such thing as a bad Ram V story, so even “frustrating” still translates to, “miles above the rest.”
Future State - Justice League #1 is a brilliant shot of team dynamics-driven superhero adventure, with a last page guaranteed to make old-school Morrison JLA fans jump for joy. Unfortunately, the issue as a whole is dragged down a bit due to a been-there, done-that backup story.
Future State – Justice League #1: Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation
Writing - 8.5/108.5/10
Storyline - 8.5/108.5/10
Art - 9/109/10
Color - 9.5/109.5/10
Cover Art - 8/108/10
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