Future State: House Of El #1 by upcoming Superman and Action Comics scribe Phillip Kennedy Johnson, is the Future State title I’ve been looking forward to the most.
Both covers for this issue give us a spoilerific taste for what we’re in for, and I say spoilerific because if you were wondering if Superman himself appears in this book… surprise! He does. And may I say, I am loving this look for him. This book takes place 1,000 years in the future, so yes it is in the exact time of The Legion. We’ve seen Zod is still alive in the Legion books and Superman is looking very similar to him here age-wise. I love that. I’ve seen a few “Old Supermen” over the years, and I think this look is my favorite out of all of them.
Our main cover by Yanick Paquette and Nathan Fairbairn, and shows Superman on a throne surrounded by his descendants. It’s a very interesting image invoking a feel we usually don’t get from a Superman cover. It feels very Game of Thrones and that is down to Superman sitting upon a glowing throne. The detail is great here and I love how different each of the descendants of Superman look, from race, skin and style, this certainly is a very diverse family and I love that.
The variant cover is by Jay Anacleto and Romulo Fajardo, Jr and is nothing short of magnificent. It’s a digital painted portrait of The House of El patriarch worthy of being hung in an actual palace. The detail and realism in this piece is phenomenal from the detail on the skin, to the textures on his suit and surroundings. It’s brilliant and I have to say it’s one of my favourite covers in a long time.
Future State: Superman: House of El #1 explores an area of the Superman mythos that I’ve always wanted to see more of and that is the subject of Superman’s descendants. We’re familiar with Superman’s legacy reaching at least 1,000 years into the future with The Legion of Superheroes, but what about The Man of Steel himself? How long does he live for? Does he have children? If so, with whom? Phillip Kennedy Johnson delves into this, and teases that the events that are shown here will tie into his upcoming runs on the Superman books, and I am HERE for it.
In this issue The House of El are bunkered down in the middle of an attack by unknown forces. We see some glimpses of several super-descendants, great grandchildren at least, probably even further removed. They are a mix of Kryptonian and many different earth-bound and alien races, even a Blue Lantern, and one with a Tameranian heritage. They all sport different looks, some with callbacks to other familiar characters like Conner Kent and Superboy Prime. Like I said before I adore the diversity here.
Except for Superman himself, there are no non-villain characters that we’ve met before in this issue, but it’s kind of great that way. This issue opens up a whole new world, which I would adore getting to know more. Writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson doesn’t spell things out for us, letting us discover lineages with subtext and context clues, and that is definitely part of the charm of this issue.
There are some very rich themes in this issue that really struck a chord with this reviewer as a person of faith, specifically as a Christian. Hearing one of the main Superman descendants the issue focuses on talk about her doubts was refreshing. She’s been brought up in this culture where everyone pledges loyalty to the symbol of some long lost ancient savior who just vanished one day, hearing all these outlandish and supernatural tales of his exploits from a millennia ago, but hasn’t seen any evidence of him with her own two eyes. She comes up with alternate explanations for the old tales she’s heard, dismissing the fundamentalist doctrine she was taught. Only to find, in the end it’s all true. I can’t tell you how much I loved that, it’s a line of thought I’ve explored in some of my own creator owned comics.
The surprise villain reveal is pretty cool, as are his origins, which have some very very interesting implications if they’re explored further down the road. We also see the return of a Future State character, The Black Racer and I’m unclear on whether she’s a hero, villain or force of nature, but the battles are cool, and the plot is very interesting!
The interior art by Scott Godlewski and colorist Gabe Eltaeb, our team from Young Justice, is fantastic as always. They perfectly render things in exactly the way you’d want in a comic, with dynamic character designs and use of light and color. The artwork has a realistic yet cartoonistic design and considering the context of the issue I think it works really well. I would be very happy to see an animated series in this style, it just works.
Future State: House of El #1 is a stand-out for me in the Future State event. This really could be a legitimate canon future, expanding the Superman lore into new and very interesting territory.
Haven’t picked up Future State: House Of El #1 yet? You can get the standard cover by Yanick Paquette here (UK), or here (US). Or if you prefer the variant cover by Jay Anacleto, you can get that here.
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