Future State: Superman vs Imperious Lex #1-3
In a possible future spinning out of the events of Death Metal, we see Lex Luthor ruling over the planet of Lexor as a beloved dictator on the brink of collapse. This prompts a request to join the United Planets-- a request backed by Superman and a reluctant Lois-- until new resources reveal themselves and Luthor resorts to cheating and stealing once again. When this new endeavor fails, the United Planets once again allows Lois and Kal the opportunity to reach out to the citizens of Lexor-- but is it too late?
Steve Pugh and Mark Russell join forces once again, following their critically acclaimed The Flintstones and Billionaire Island, this time taking on one of the longest running conflicts in comics history with Superman and Lex Luthor. The dialogue is typical of a Russell/Pugh joint. It’s snappy, often quietly funny and occasionally out-loud hilarious and the artwork is always consistent and beautiful. What sets this book apart from the rest of the very well constructed Future State slate is it’s direct relation to the present. The narrative framework of this story, as is often the case when Russell and Pugh are at the helm, is an examination of the dytopian social politics of the present day United States.
The allegory of Lex as a beloved-by-his-people dictator will certainly evoke certain feelings in readers, as the people of Lexor cling to his every lie, ride his propaganda machine all the way to the bottom, and insist on their leader’s plan and genius as the one true path to the future. Enter the question of Superman into the narrative, then. The book has an incredibly firm grasp on who Superman is, from the opening pages where he wants to help Lexor in spite of his history with Lex to his unwavering attempts to convince Lexor that he only wants the best for them. There is a naivte here for the Man of Steel as well, boiled deep into the character and his willingness to put himself in harms way for the people that speaks to the top-notch characterization we find for Kal here.
The mark of a truly good series, for me, is it’s ability to occupy space in your mind long after reading it. As I look at the fractured landscape of the United States today– along nearly all imaginable lines– I can’t help but wonder, where is Superman when you need him? Russell and Pugh gave us the blueprint of a once-rejected savior holding out open arms to reassimilate a lost faction of the universal population– a group who were so badly lied to, the couldn’t image a world outside of the lie– but is such a reconciliation really feasible? In that sense, perhaps this series is the pair’s least political, as it ends with what feels something like the sort of escapist fantasy many claim comics are supposed to be. Often misquoted as “Can’t we all just get along?” the actual quote from Rodney King was “can we all just get along?” and this book seems to be asking the same question, decades later.
Thinly veiled political allegory is a particular stregth of the creative team and Future State: Superman vs Imperious Lex from #DCComics @Manruss @stevepughcom @rfajardojr @social_myth proves no exception. It exceeds all expectations!
Future State: Superman vs Imperious Lex #1-3: “Can We All Just Get Along?”
Writing - 9/10
Storyline - 9/10
Art - 9/10
Color - 9/10
Cover Art - 9/10
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