“Suicide Squad”, “Teen Titans”, “SHAZAM!”, “Swamp Thing”, “Black Adam”
Writers: Robbie Thompson, Tim Sheridan, Ram V, Jeremy Adams
Artists: Javier Fernandez, Rafa Sandoval, Jordi Tarragona, Eduardo Pansica, Julio Ferreira, Mike Perkins, Fernando Pasarin, Oclair Albert
Color Artists: Alex Sinclair, Alejandro Sánchez, Marcelo Maiolo, June Chung, Jeromy Cox
Letterers: Wes Abbott, Rob Leigh, Aditya Bidikar
Review by Max Byrne, James Stone, Steve J. Ray
This 240-page volume collects Future State: Suicide Squad #1-#2, Future State: Teen Titans #1-#2, Future State: SHAZAM! #1-#2, and Future State: Swamp Thing #1-#2. The book also features all the main and variant covers, as well as sketches and designs by each creative team.
In Future State: Suicide Squad – The Collected edition, Billy Batson made a deal with the devil and has to uncover who now controls the Mightiest Mortal’s power, and is using it to wreak havoc. A dangerous decision made in Swamp Thing’s past may doom his future. The Teen Titans are forced to rebuild and face off against the threat that destroyed their legacy, and questions remain after Amanda Waller and her Justice Squad instill peace in a dark, twisted, future DC Universe.
Future State: Suicide Squad – Max Byrne
Future State Suicide Squad is an engaging read that constantly keeps the reader guessing. Unveiling a Task Force X that’s extremely different from anything we have seen before, albeit, with an old favorite at the helm – it wouldn’t be a Squad story without the evergreen Amanda Waller in control.
Writer Robbie Thompson manages to avoid making this book feel like a rehash of previous Squad adventures. In fitting with the overall flavor of the Future State books, Thompson truly made me feel that this was a very different time setting, with an innovative status quo to match.
The most interesting part of the new team is that they’ve been modeled on the Justice League. Yes, they’re still the same collection of rotters and miscreants, but clothed in garb that evokes the classic JL line-up. The similarity does end there though when we see the team in the field. Whilst not as polished and cohesive as the group they’re imitating, they do get the job done.
Of course, in a manner befitting of Task Force X, not all parties emerge unscathed. Whilst some may find the thought of JL costumes clothing individuals that are less than noble, I loved it. It’s a memorable image that just works. The artwork in this story’s a real treat, as Javier Fernandez has created images that bounce off the page. Allied to the colorwork of Alex Sinclair, the word vibrant doesn’t really do it justice. Each page is awash with life, and a spark that cannot be quantified. Nowhere is this more evident than on the truly spectacular splash page that introduces readers to the new lineup, with real verve and aplomb. The combination works brilliantly and is as good as anything I’ve had the privilege to read in recent times.
Teen Titans – James Stone
Future State Teen Titans #1 brings us a story that feels like a mixture of a classic Teen Titans comic, and Justice League Dark.
I love the pairing of Dick Grayson’s Nightwing and Emiko Queen’s Red Arrow, as their personalities bounce off each other so well. Writer, Tim Sheridan, blends the youthful fun personality of Emiko with the stern and serious nature of Dick to create a delightful concoction.
Considering a large proportion of the first chapter’s made up of characters talking, plotting, and weaving their next plan, the artwork’s sublime. Every panel’s beautifully designed, and vibrantly colored down to the smallest detail, with Rafa Sandoval, Jordi Tarragona, and Alejandro Sanchez making a formidable artistic team.
When Raven comes out to play, is when things turn to the darker side, and I get a real Justice League Dark vibe. It’s not just the introduction of magic that does this, but the whole issue takes a shift, as the story narrative becomes worryingly negative and the color tones adopt dark, ominous purples, and greys.
SHAZAM! – Steve J. Ray
Writer Tim Sheridan has many fans here at DKN. He’s someone who clearly loves comics and the characters he writes about. His versions of Billy Batson and his alter-ego, the World’s Mightiest Mortal – SHAZAM! – honor both the classic iterations of the character as well as some of the more modern interpretations.
Billy Batson has managed to hide the fact that he’s a child in the body of a man, but secrets never stay hidden for long. His interactions with older, wiser, and more grizzled veterans lead to incredible consequences in this tale of magic, demons, and hellfire.
The art by Eduardo Pansica, and Julio Ferreira, which is then beautifully colored by the amazing Marcelo Maiolo is pure magic, in and of itself. This story evokes golden age fun and modern era grit perfectly. The fact that Sheridan has gone on to make SHAZAM a Titan, and continues to write both the team books and the continuing adventures of the Big Red Cheese makes me very happy indeed.
Swamp Thing – Steve J. Ray
Many believe that nothing will ever top Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing. While this may well be the case, Ram V’s version of the character, which first saw light (and darkness) in Future State is one of the few iterations that stands shoulder to shoulder with the Wein/Wrightson original, and its more famous successor.
This story is dark, horrific, and yet mesmerizingly beautiful. Of course, as much credit must go to the incredible art of Mike Perkins and the earthy, ethereal hues of June Chung. The much-missed and far too short DC Universe Swamp Thing TV show made a few new Swampy fans, but this tale and Ram V’s subsequent mini-series are as much must-read stories as the classics mentioned above.
Black Adam – Max Byrne
Once again, this is a very different take on the character everyone loves to hate. Writer Jeremy Adams and artist Fernando Pasarin pick up his story very far in the future, in a timeline that should ring a bell with DC fans: the 853rd century!
This is a daring new take on Teth-Adam and a far cry from the hard-line character that’s he’s typically depicted as. This is a more “peace and love” version of the anti-hero. When faced with an apocalyptic situation, however, circumstances dictate that the classic version isn’t far away.
This is a slow burn of a story, but with truly high stakes, and it’s genuinely intriguing. Remember the One Million storyline by Grant Morrison (1988)? Anybody who enjoyed that is going to find a lot to get their teeth into here.
While we’ve read many of the stories collected in Future State: Suicide Squad before, holding them together in one, lavishly-made book, only adds to the enjoyment. Having followed many of the characters’ further adventures after the crossover event ended has also highlighted the meticulously crafted ideas that the writers of these tales have imagined.
Future State may be where some of these heroes and villains end up, but it’s only the beginning of their story.
Review copy courtesy of Penguin Random House. Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment