Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Future State: Batman/Superman #2 Review

When Narration and Exposition Becomes the Third Character

Written By: Gene Luen Yang
Art By: Ben Oliver, Stephen Segovia
Colors By: Arif Prianto
Letters By: Tom Napolitano
Cover Art By: David Marquez, Alejandro Sanchez
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: February 23, 2021

Future State: Batman/Superman #2 hops right back into the action with Superman captured by Mr. Toads Un-men while Batman discovers who's pulling Mr. Toad's strings. Turns out Professor Pyg (didn't Future State: Harley Quinn help capture him?) is running bizarre DNA experiments sanctioned and funded by the Magistrate to develop bio-weapons and bio-surveillance. And it's gross.

Eventually, Batman gets injured but still manages to save Superman from Professor Pyg and his synthetically grown kryptonite medical devices. The reunited duo shut down Pyg's operation, get Toad to remember there's still good in him, and bring in a Future State: Animal Man to fix Gotham's pigeons.

It's gross. It's way too much inner monologuing. It's Future State.

Was It Good?

Despite, the weird body horror aspects of this issue (much more than the previous), the pacing and ponderous amounts of monologuing made it somewhat boring. The art is good, especially the rats, bats, and pigeons with eyes on their backs, but the story felt too heavy and slow. It almost felt like there was a narrator telling you all of Superman and Batman's thoughts, and he/she wouldn't shut up.

What's It About?

Batman finds Toad wheeling out Superman on a stretcher with kryptonite taped to his chest. Toad's on a mission and he sends one of his Un-men, a big bruiser with a boar's head and tentacle arms, to take Batman out. A very odd tussle ensues and Batman is forced to leap out a window to escape, twisting his knee in the landing. He calls the Bat-cycle to him with voice commands and takes off in pursuit of Toad and Superman.

It's revealed Toad is working for Professor Pyg, and he's charged toad with capturing Superman as part of a larger plan. in exchange for the freedom to do what he wants, including growing synthetic kryptonite, the Magistrate has tasked Pyg with breeding bio-weapons using Superman's DNA. In a gruesome torture scene, Pyg begins extracting material from Superman using crude medical devices with the synth-kryptonite blades and bits.

Meanwhile, Batman reviews the data he recovered from Toad's lab and learns the Magistrate is behind everything, including using Superman's DNA to add organic surveillance cameras to rats, pigeons, and bats all over Gotham. It's not clear how they got superman's DNA before his current capture or why they need him now. The timing of events seems completely off with this explanation.

Batman finds out the locations of Pyg's lab, rescues Superman, and the two face off against another one of Pyg's Un-man brutes modified with Superman's DNA into a bizarre(o) brute with seven eyes. For an added gross factor, Pyg puts the falls face serum on his arms to give him boars head hands (Hands. Not Boars Head Ham. The ham is delicious. Pyg is not.)

Batman "commands" Superman to trade enemies with him, and they both win their respective fights. Back at one of Batman's hideouts, Batman "commends" Superman to get out of Gotham because he's become a liability since the Magistrate has been planning to weaponize Superman's DNA for months... maybe years. Superman defends himself with a valiant speech about trust, but Batman isn't having any of it and makes some statements about letting the public letting the bad guys in the door in exchange for Security. It's hard not to pick up Gene Luen Yang is making a statement about elections, candidates, and governments in a semi-heavy-handed way, but it's just ambiguous enough to not take a specific position.

In the end, Toad reunites with his daughter, Superman leaves him a calling device if he ever needs help again, and Batman brings in Animal Man to collect up all the vermin modified by Pyg's experiments.

Overall, it's not a bad story, but the timing doesn't work out with some of the explanations, and there are two or three thought caption boxes on every panel to bring the pace to a crawl.

Bits and Pieces:

Future State: Batman/Superman #2 concludes this very near Future State title with glacial pacing, explanations that are paper-thin, and gross body horror art. Thankfully, the art is the highlight of the issue, but this title is one of the mediocre Future State experiments.


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