Future State Superman of Metropolis #1
Ever since Brian Michael Bendis aged up Jonathan Kent it seems the character has been building to the moment where he would become Superman. If the first issue of Superman of Metropolis is any indication, Jon would still be better off as one of the Super Sons.
Writer Sean Lewis takes readers 10 years into a future where Jon has operated as Superman working in close concert with his cousin Supergirl.
Metropolis citizens haven’t fared well in this time as a tech genius established a device that essentially hands over control of their lives to a computer program. Even worse that program has been co-opted by a second generation version of Brainiac called Brain Cells. Brain Cells is a reflection of Jon, a not quite as powerful version of his father. Lewis doesn’t play up that synergy enough and instead lays out several reasons why Jon has made a terrible Superman.
His biggest mistake comes with the rash decision to shrink Metropolis a la Kandor from an invasion. Lewis doesn’t provide enough explanation as to why Jon thought this was a sensible strategy. Like other Future State writers, Lewis significantly advanced the time period although in Jon’s case his character as Superman isn’t established well enough in this opening chapter to offer him the benefit of the doubt for his choices.
John Timms handles the art for this issue and he’s a decent fit for Jon as he gives his hair plenty of weight and bounce to channel his father’s spit curl. Timms is solid on the many action sequences as well though he still needs to enhance his storytelling with his panel layouts, which are occasionally hard to follow.
There’s also a secondary story featuring Shilo Norman aka Mister Miracle written by Brandon Easton and drawn by Valentine de Landro. This is less involved than the SOM story as Shilo tries to determine the cause of a mysterious barrier and arriving mechs. The story isn’t long, but Easton sets up some intriguing questions like what damaged Shilo’s suit over the past year and how he has it set up with his Mother Box like a a suit or armor. It seems like the key to strong Future State stories is for writers to swing for the fences with drastic changes to familiar characters that raises plenty of questions that might not get answered in this limited series format. De Landro’s art fits for this portrayal of Mister Miracle, which is more grounded and less focused on the impossible.
Finally, Lewis crafts a Guardian story with a very likely reaction of Metropolis citizens responding to life in a bottle. Guardian meets with an older Jimmy Olsen reacting to Superman bottling Metropolis when a new adversary emerges. Lewis finds a far more interesting angle with the fallout of Superman’s actions instead of focusing on him. And it’s wild that the best chapters of Superman of Metropolis are the ones Superman is absent. Lewis teams with artists Cully Hamner and Michael Avon Oeming, who quickly establish a strong visual style for Guardian.
The Superman story proves a warmup for two very entertaining backup stories that will make Superman of Metropolis worth following. If the main feature improves, this could be a standout Future State title.
Rating: 8 out of 10