The JLA in its Future State

Category: JLA
Last article published: 31 August 2020
This is the 89th post under this label

I couldn't have cared a spit for all the Death Metal stuff DC has been churning out for what seems like years, but "out of the ashes of Death Metal" comes Future State, which feels a little like what some DC books had time to indulge in just before Flashpoint, that is to say, showing us the future of this particular version of the DCU before the timeline is set aside in favor of a new paradigm (as DC does its usual thing). Now, we're gonna use the Justice League as out example book (because it has the virtue of featuring heroes who also have their own series in Future State), but let me quickly flip through the DC Nation special about the event to get the gist without having been along for the ride thus far. (Like, for one thing, the special tells us how far in the future any given book takes place, but the comics themselves don't. That's a big Arrrgh!, DC.) So while the Batman books mostly take place 5 years from now, most of the Superman books are in 10 years, and Justice League is in 20.

The Justice League of 2040 is made up of legacy heroes, most of which get their own series in the event. Its Superman is an adult Jon Kent. Its Wonder Woman, Yara Flor from the Amazon forest rather than Amazon Island, is one of several women to take up the mantle (Nubia is also in Future State somewhere). Its Green Lantern apparently united all the Corps. Its non-binary Flash came "from the Multiverse" to warn our world of a great conspiracy and stayed. Its Batman apparently truly saved Gotham City. And Aquawoman is the daughter of Aquaman and Mera. We recognize the tropes, are invited to check out the series these descriptions evoke, and now we're ready to get into the story (Joshua WiIlliamson, writer, art by Rorson Rocha, Daniel Henriques and Romulo Fajardo Jr.), essentially a tale where the Legion of Doom, led by T.O. Morrow, want to take revenge on the young heroes who they mistakenly called "Not OUR Justice League" and thus underestimated them. Cute. They've found something in the old Hall of Justice that can be used to destroy the Justice League. Cut to the next day, and they're all dead.
Whoah! Okay, that's a fun (black) comedy cut. It's a mystery, but a good time to reflect on the (untold) past where I find out Williamson has similar opinions to mine regarding superheroes. It seems the Justice League eventually had too many members and a traitor among them used the free flow of information to destroy them. It led to a new charter that includes mandatory secret identities (YA!), no fraternization (sorry 'shippers) and so on. At this point in their history, they don't have a headquarters (against the rules) and Jon at least thinks it would be a good idea to review that decision and grow the team. Is he right? Should the Justice League be more than a team that meets only for missions? Should it be a family of sorts? Nobody else thinks so. In other words, this isn't the book where you're gonna learn TOO much about the members. Except maybe Aquawoman who doesn't have her own book...
She has a chat with mom and dad using the water-Internet from her lighthouse in Amnesty Bay and hey, is that FRATERNIZING between members we're seeing? To be fair to the two of them, everyone knows whose daughter she is, and the other comes from another universe. Then they get caught by Supes and WW. Oops! Which come to think of it is also against the rules. You can't visit members at their homes! Meanwhile, Green Lantern, the "best detective in the universe", has been hoovering the crime scene for clues and she ALSO gets a visit from Superman. Who knows her real name. Uh-oh.
With a gash down his face, it looks like evil Superman is a robot maybe. Aquawoman then gets zapped. GL too. All of them, by seeming teammates. I don't think you're ready to find out who the bad guys really are, but fans of Grant Morrison's JLA will get a small thrill from the answer. TO BE CONTINUED.

So of course, there's no way the Justice League was actually killed off so unceremoniously, even if the future time frame makes them all theoretically disposable. (The comic continues with a Justice League Dark story set in 2030.) Issue 2 will tell the tale. I, for one, quite liked this. It felt just divorced enough from continuity that I wasn't lost, yet connected to comics that I liked from when I was more of a DC fan. It had something to say about superhero teams and how they've been handled in the recent past, and I especially found Jon's exploration of what a team SHOULD be intriguing (not sure if they can wrap it up in what little time Future State will last, but still). And did it work as a teaser for the solo books? After this, yes, I'm interested in seeing what each of them is like outside the team context. It's a winner!

Ultimately though, the question is whether any of this will have an impact on DC continuity going forward, or it's just an "alternate future" in the category as Legends of the Dead Earth, or any given Elseworld. At the end of Death Metal, there's an epilogue that says the Multiverse is now truly infinite and Earth-1 isn't its center anymore. There's a second center (yeah ok) J'Onn J'Onzz calls the "Elseworld" that's really far out in terms of multiversal distance (ok yeah), and... is that where the next phase of DC stories will be told? Future State can't be the new paradigm because it's all over the place in terms of dates (with several Batmen, Supermen and Wonder Women across history), and all DC Comics can't take place in 2040, though they could use the new Multiverse as a bigger canvas to tell stories from any continuity, disconnected from the rest, but that hasn't been the model in decades. So have they finally ditched post-Crisis continuity (as Rebirth told us the New52 was actual that timeline corrupted, then "fixed")?

Meanwhile, I'm interested in reading two months of DC Comics, a short in-and-out, and I haven't done that since the pure nostalgia experience of Convergence.


MichaelT said...

Best I can tell Future State is just a bunch of what we used to call Imaginary Stories and which then became Elseworlds. I have no problem with that (Superman Red/Superman Blue was a favourite) but to call it a glimpse of DC's future seems disingenuous.

Siskoid said...

It's the future of this DCU in the same way that Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow was the future of the pre-Crisis DCU.


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