Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Future State: Batman/Superman #1 Review


The Island of Dr. Oh, No!

Written By: Gene Luen Yang
Art By: Ben Oliver
Colors By: Arif Prianto
Letters By: Tom Napolitano
Cover Art By: Ben Oliver
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: January 26, 2021

Future State: Batman/Superman #1 kicks off a near-future adventure where a nasty street drug with unpleasant side effects is spreading through Metropolis. The drug allows people to mutate their face into an animal of their choosing to escape detection by face recognition. Superman tracks the flow of drug sales to Gotham. Batman explains the drugs are gaining in popularity by citizens wanting to hide from the Magistrate surveillance, but the drug's damage is worse than the benefit. With prime Dark Detective sleuthing, they find the author of the drug is a new version of an old villain who's more revolutionary than criminal, and it's up to the World's Finest to stop him.

Was It Good?

It's better than just okay. The art is great. The concept of people mutating the faces is certainly original. And the "oh, snap!" ending hooked me for the next issue.

Short Story Long


We begin with the classic trope of Superman saving a teenager who's fallen on train tracks before the train turns him into minced meat. This trope has always been a bit problematic since the sudden stop would have been the equivalent to a train slamming into a wall at 90 mph. It should derail the train, cause incalculable damage, and kill a significant number of passengers. But sure, it looks cool.

The teenager was trying to kill himself because he's taken a drug that allows him to morph his face into the shape of an animal. He wanted to pull an "epic" prank during a high school game, and he chose a ram to mimic the school's mascot. Unfortunately, there are side effects and the teen feels like his life is ruined.

Superman takes the teen to STAR Labs for genetic treatment and goes off to use his reporting skills to find out the source of the drug - Gotham. Superman finds Batman flying over Gotham in the Batwing, and Batman orders him inside to avoid Magistrate drone detection. Over the next several pages, Batman observes how Superman's powers have made him too careless about his presence when stealth is required. Announcing himself could endanger the Gotham citizens around him, Batman warns.

The World's Finest finds a group of teens with animal faces attacking drones as an actor of defiance. A Peacekeeper droid moves in to arrest, but Superman intervenes and destroys the droid, but not before getting captured on surveillance by Magistrate HQ. One of the rescued teens explains her father, a University Professor, is missing and she's sure the Magistrate secretly arrested him. The teens are using the drug to disguise themselves and create chaos to disrupt the Magistrate.

Before the teens run away, one of them tells Batman he got the drugs from a dealer in Old Gotham; the original Gotham that's paved over and sealed underground beneath the current Gotham. The World's Finest track the dealer to an Old Gotham hospital where they're attacked by more advanced animal-hybrid goons. Superman defeats them easily, and he finds their leader is none other than Mr. Toad.

This Mr. Toad is the cousin of the original Mr. Toad and he's developed the drug to create the False Face Society as the beginnings of an army to destroy the Magistrate. It turns out that Mr. Toad is also the University Professor who's the father of the teen girl the World's Finest rescued from the Peacekeeper droid.

When Superman explains his daughter is looking for him, Mr. Toad takes off the face serum giving him a toad face, and appears to accept Superman's offer for help. As the issue ends, Mr. Toad makes a bait-n-switch, takes out a kryptonite knife, and shivs Superman in the gut.

Bits and Pieces

Future State: Batman/Superman #1 successfully combines Batman's detective skills and Superman's brawn to work out a growing conspiracy, using the Magistrate as a catalyst rather than the main plot point. The art is excellent, and I especially like the interaction between Batman and Superman as less friendly and more like colleagues with a tension between them because of the difference in their operating styles. They respect each other, but there's a clear sense of turf and different methods that work well here.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review. Sounds like this story is one of the better Future State books out there with Swamp Thing and Shazam. I hope the creative team keeps it up.