Future State: Superman of Metropolis #1 Review - The House of EL has a Shoddy Foundation
Back in the 90's Marvel and DC comics mashed up their characters and told stories in a combined "Amalgam" Universe. The comics were all One-Shots and the most standout aspect of the mashup besides the characters themselves was the illusion that the Amalgam universe was longrunning and had a long-established history.
This is my third "Future State" review and I'm starting to see a lot of similarities between this event and the Amalgam Universe. The main difference I'm seeing between the two universes is that the stories aren't one-shot and that there appears to be a push to integrate some of these characters and concepts into the mainline DC Universe. Superman of Metropolis feels the most like an Amalgam comic in how the stories are presented.
Superman of Metropolis is another 3 in 1 comic book. All three stories touch on the situation in Metropolis and the presentation is similar to what was done in "The Next Batman". The main story features Jonathan Kent in his role as Superman. The backup stories feature new incarnations of Mister Miracle and The Guardian respectively.
It's next to impossible to discuss the backup stories without spoiling the main plot point of the issue. How much you enjoy this series will be tied to how much you're willing to accept Jon's decision-making and the logic behind those decisions in this issue. In my opinion, it's pretty dumb and hurts the overall narrative.
We learn immediately that Lex Luthor has been exiled and Lexcorp has been supplanted by Andrej Trojan and Trojan Solutions. Trojan Solutions has been combining human DNA with Nanotechnology and supporters of the initiative have declared Metropolis "The Free Republic of Metropolis". This is clearly a succession scenario and forces the hand of the United States Government as they begin clashing with the citizens of Metropolis.
The Nanotech is called "Braincells" and is created from remnants of Brainiac after he was shut down. Long story short, the people of Metropolis have been integrated with Brainiac technology. I got serious Mass Effect 3 vibes when reading this issue and was wondering if this scenario was what Bioware was going for in that game when It was released.
The Miltary moves in to destroy "Brain Cells" which would put the people integrated with the technology at risk. In order to protect the people, Jon uses Brainiac's technology to shrink down the City and bottle it in the "Fortress of Solitude". This puts Jon in direct conflict with the Military and Supergirl. It also becomes clear that Jonathan may be playing into the hands of outside forces that he's not aware of.
The setup for Superman of Metropolis is actually pretty cool. It's standard futuristic sci-fi stuff. The problem is that Jon unilaterally deciding to shrink Metropolis and its population against their will essentially makes them prisoners. It's a fascistic move and would frame Jonathan as a villain depending on who's telling the story. I'm not sure how anyone can see his decision as the right one objectively.
The art direction for the issue is fantastic. I especially loved the updated designs for Jon and Supergirl in the comic and hope they carry forward beyond Future State. The action is also pretty dynamic. Although I have an issue with the script, the story looks great and I look forward to seeing more from John Timms as he's a talent I haven't seen before.
In addition to my gripes with the script, the backup stories aren't much to write home about. Not much information is given about the New Guardian and Mister Miracle aside from the fact that they are also trapped in the bottled city of Metropolis and doing their best to maintain order. The art for these segments ranges from bland to meh. It seems that these backup stories were done to justify the $5.99 cover price. I appreciate more bang for the buck but I would have been satisfied with the main story for $3.99. The other obvious thing is that the characters of Guardian and Miracle have been race-swapped. The characters are pretty bland in this issue. Hopefully, this changes as the stories are fleshed out.
This issue only works if you understand and agree with Jon's decision. I'm assuming that the situation will be fleshed out more as Future state rolls on but as it stands Superman of Metropolis #1 is a pretty comic but it has problems under the hood that should have been caught at the concept stage.