Future State - Justice League #2
The Hyperclan has replaced the Justice League and swiftly wins the public's trust, but what is their ultimate plan? And will it be subverted from within? PLUS: Etrigan must confront the truth about Jason Blood in a decision that will ultimately decide the Justice League Dark's battle against the forces of Merlin! FUTURE STATE rolls on!
For a particular generation of fans, Grant Morrison and Howard Porter’s JLA will forever be the high-water mark for the Justice League. Writer Joshua Williamson’s daring move to invoke that classic era for Future State – Justice League could have been a mindless exercise in nostalgia-wallowing, but instead, he uses the Hyperclan’s ability to shapeshift (as is the White Martian way) to explore deeper rifts within the future League, ones seemingly borne out of necessity but whose time may have passed.
The future League – based on some unknown catastrophe that befell their predecessors – does not share personal information with one another. They don’t even know one another’s real names. This decision was made with the thought that entwining the personal and the professional brought about the previous League’s downfall, and so, the current generation keeps one another at arm’s length. And while this may keep things on a strictly professional level in an HR sense, it means there’s a de facto glass ceiling on the amount of trust each member is able to place in one another. The Hyperclan realized that and exploited it with utmost ease last issue, and the fallout of that blind spot is what’s explored this month.
That’s a pretty crafty storytelling move, actually – especially considering how low-stakes Future State could have been. Two months hanging out in futures that may or may not happen? Sure, why not, but will readers care? In the Justice League’s case, Williamson has not only deftly dived into the character dynamics of the team in such a way that immediately creates investment by exploring how each character plays off the others as dictated by the team’s circumstances – but he also compels us by highlighting the differences between this possible future League and their predecessors. There’s a strong sense of legacy at play, too, drawing on one of DC’s strongest institutional suits to create a strong argument that yes, these new characters deserve to be considered the Justice League. The artistic trio of Robson Rocha, Daniel Henriques, and Romulo Fajardo, Jr., are the icing on the cake, bringing a visual gravitas to the book that truly makes it A-list. This team brings a fine-lined and detailed craftsmanship to every page, taking the incredible work they recently brought Aquaman and bringing it to the next level. The art team here is next-level and ready for a front-and-center spotlight on an A-list comic once Infinite Frontier kicks off.
This being a future State book, though, there’s plenty of other backup story to tell, this time concluding Ram V’s “Propheties” (that’s French, not a typo) tale of the Justice League Dark doing what they do best and saving the world from mystical apocalypse, this time, at the hands of Merlin, rather than the Upside Down Man. And although this month’s installment is an improvement over last month’s thanks to a strong focus on Etrigan in a way that actually manages to turn him into a sympathetic character – it still falls a a bit flat due to feeling like “been there, done that.” There are remarkable similarities between “Propheties” and the JLD’s recently-concluded Upside Down Man arc, mostly in that it’s the end of the magical world, all hope seems lost, and only the JLD stands in the way.
That isn’t to say that “Propheties” is necessarily a bad story, but it is repetitive in that regard. I genuinely did love the emotional resonance in the Etrigan reveal, and Khalid Ben-Hassin continues to be a Dr. Fate with far more relatability than any of his predecessors. These things in and of themselves – humanity, character growth, and depth of personal motivation – keep “Propheties” from being a complete swing and a miss. It is a solid, and valid story. It just feels as though V could have chosen to take the opportunity to flex a different set of the JLD’s muscles, rather than rushing to the end of the world again so soon after the last apocalypse. Couple that with the fact that this isn’t really much of a “future” story (in that it could literally just be the next arc in the main JLD book in terms of characters’ ages), and you have a story that feels more like a victim of missed opportunity rather than a necessarily out-and-out bad story that will leave readers feeling satisfied but maybe not blown away in the end. And that’s not a bad thing per se – sometimes, a meat and potatoes superhero story is exactly what the doctor (Fate) ordered.
Future State - Justice League #2 blows the doors off, leaving readers immediately wanting more from this next-gen JLA. The backup JLD story falters just a bit, though, by virtue of not doing enough to differentiate itself from its modern-day incarnation. Ultimately, though, this is far and away one of the best Future State comics, and is well worth a buy.
Future State – Justice League #2: Sins of the Fathers
Writing - 9.5/109.5/10
Storyline - 8.5/108.5/10
Art - 8.5/108.5/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 8.5/108.5/10
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