Future State: Superman-House of El #1 is written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson, illustrated by Scott Godlewski, colored by Gabe Eltaeb, and lettered by ALW’s Troy Peteri. It is published by DC Comics. Years in the future, the universe is under attack by the nefarious Red King, who has torn through various Lantern corps and the forces of the United Planets. The only thing standing in his way are the descendants of Superman, who make their last stand at the Fortress of Solitude on the moon.
This marks Johnson’s second time writing a Superman title for Future State, as he previously wrote the Superman: Worlds of War series. The ending of that series hinted that House of El would connect to Worlds of War, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Though the idea of Superman’s legacy literally carrying on through different races is an interesting one, Johnson doesn’t give us much to work with here or tie back to the events of Worlds of War. Where did all these descendants of Superman come from? How did Superman escape Warworld? Where was Jon Kent, who took up the role of Superman in his father’s absence?
It’s questions like these that kept me from being fully immersed in the story, though I do appreciate all the different characters that showed up. There were Tameraneans, a new Brainiac, and even a descendant of Kal-El’s who was a Blue Lantern. Johnson also wrote a recurring narration that feels like it was pulled from the pages of a medieval legend—which is extremely fitting, given the mythic status the Superman legend holds.
Another element of the Superman legend that House of El touches upon is the legacy that Superman has left behind. As he did with Worlds of War, Johnson touches upon what Superman means to others, and how that can influence others, for good or ill. It only made me wish we had more backstory with all these characters so that I could be further invested in the story.
The standout of the comic has to be Godlewski’s artwork. Godlewski draws the various members of the House of El in red, yellow, and blue armor, further adding to the medieval elements that permeate the story. He also gets to draw several elements from the Superman mythos, including the Black Racer and a legion of Doomsdays. The original Doomsday was terrifying enough, but a whole army is a sight to behold, with their massive bony spikes and bulging muscles. Godlewski’s action sequences are stunning, with a prime example being when Theand’r (Superman’s Tameranean descendant) unleashes her fury on a legion of Parademons. She becomes a blur of red and blue, fiery orange flames leaping off her body as she attacks the Parademons.
Future State: Superman-House of El #1 has a strong premise and solid artwork, but a story that fails to offer an entry point for new readers. Most of the previous Future State titles have managed to build off of or tie into other titles, and it’s a shame that this one didn’t because there were some genuinely great ideas in this story.
Future State: Superman-House of El #1 is available wherever comics are sold.
Future State: Superman-House of El #1 has a strong premise and solid artwork, but a story that fails to offer an entry point for new readers. Most of the previous Future State titles have managed to build off of or tie into other titles, and it’s a shame that this one didn’t because there were some genuinely great ideas in this story. I am still looking forward to Johnson’s next issue.
Collier “CJ” Jennings is a freelance reporter and film critic living in Seattle. He uses his love of comics and film/TV to craft reviews and essays on genre projects. He is also a host on Into the Spider-Cast.