Review: Future State – Justice League #2

by Bryant Lucas
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“Future Sight” – Part Two & “Propheties” – Part Two
Writers: Joshua Williamson, and Ram V
Artists: Robson Rocha, Daniel Henriques, and Marcio Takara
Color Artists: Romulo Fajardo Jr., and Marcelo Maiolo
Letterers: Tom Napolitano, and Rob Leigh
Review by Bryant Lucas

Trust becomes key, as the League squares off against the shape-shifting Hyperclan, in this week’s Future State: Justice League #2.

Last month, the new JL were bamboozled by the Hyperclan: a group of evil shape-shifting White Martians, who first ran afoul of the League back in the 90s during Grant Morrison’s tenure on JLA. Because the Future State League maintained strict rules concerning inner-team fraternization, the Hyperclan managed to impersonate League members without detection. In Future State: Justice League #2,  we learn that when the Hyperclan sprung a trap, they transported the League to a hell-scape, basically stranding them in an alternate dimension. With the Justice League out of the way, the Hyperclan continued to impersonating team-members in order to enslave humanity.

Future State: Whiplash

Joshua Williamson’s script is a mad dash, as he attempts to wrap up a two-part story that easily could have filled three to four issues. One of the things that allow a book like Justice League to work is that there’s a certain familiarity with these characters and their relationships with each other. Even when a writer tackles a completely new Justice League roaster, they’re given the space to establish characters and team dynamics over the course of a number of issues.

Williamson was not afforded such luxuries for Future State.  He was given two issues to accomplish the following: establish a new team of legacy characters, create team dynamics, introduce a villain, instigate an internal and external conflict, and resolve both. All of this in a total of roughly 40 pages. Needless to say, the pacing of this script is insanely fast. Williamson does the best he can with what little space he’s given, but this story could have used a few more issues to unpack some of these concepts.

Rushed Rocha

Last month, I noted how Robson Rocha and Daniel Henriques did a great job establishing a distinct mood for this book. Sadly, that dark and brooding tone went by the wayside with issue two. No more neon dystopia. Rather, much of the setting feels like the normal, modern-day DCU.

Also, there are moments where it feels like Rocha might have been rushed. While his larger, more widescreen panels are as beautiful as ever, some of the smaller ones lack detail.  It’s as if he spent all of his time perfecting the more prominent pieces, while simply scribbling out the ones that were less important. Such lack of attention to detail either indicates laziness or hurriedness. Considering Rocha’s track record, he doesn’t come across as lazy, leaving me to assume that he was on a tight schedule to get this issue finished. The effect is a somewhat jarring transition between the beautiful and thre mundane.

Justice League Dark

Picking up where last month’s issue left off, Zatanna and her team finally uncover the whereabouts of Doctor Fate, who has been in hiding since Merlin made his power-play for the magical world. Apparently, Merlin is after the helmet of Nabu, which would essentially give him the power to see the future. Unfortunately though, the helmet went haywire after Merlin’s conquest, so Khalid (the current Doctor Fate), found an Egyptian deity named Hauhet who managed to mend the broken artefact.

Khalid tells this story to Etrigan, revealing why the Demon has been fused with Detective Chimp, and why Etrigan refuses to stand against Merlin. After some prodding from Bobo, the Demon finally decides to take a stand against the evil wizard.

Unresolved Issues

The most infuriating thing about Ram V’s excellent script is how his two-part story ends. Ram spends so much time building this post-apocalyptic world, and establishing the main conflict that fuels the story, but then ends the tale on a cliff hanger. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, for one would expect that this cliffhanger would be resolved in the next few issues, so we’ll have to wait and see.

Aesthetic Consistency

Unlike Rocha, Marcio Takara and Marcelo Maiolo do a great job maintaining the same tone and visual style established in the first issue. “Propheties” Part Two has the same grim, post-apocalyptic gothic vibe that the first issue exudes. This works particularly well in this issue, as much of it revolves around Etrigan. Maiolo’s colors particularly pop in this issue, so there’s plenty of hell-fire set against a bleak landscape.

Takara’s character depictions are also pretty fantastic. At one point, Ragman turns into a giant fire breathing dragon. It’s pretty fantastic watching Zatanna ride a giant rag-dragon while fighting an army of magical soldiers. These visuals are memorable and fun, adding to the story’s success.

Conclusion

Future State: Justice League #2 is a mixed bag. Williamson’s story had potential but felt incredibly rushed, while Ram V’s story would have been superb had this not been for the cliffhanger. Alas, this is the problem with events like Future State. When comics flash-forward, their stories either lack the appropriate context or the space to develop or conclude. That being said – I am very much excited to see what Ram V will do with Justice League Dark moving forward once Future State has ended.

Final Verdict: Only read if you’re invested or enjoy being driven mad.

Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment


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