Future State: Superman/Wonder Woman #2 concludes with a story that is part classic World’s Finest, part Grant Morrison’s JLA (Think the one where Superman wrestled an angel.), and all heart. Writer Dan Watters sets up a plot with mythic stakes, namely, a race and fight against two iterations of the sun: the villainous Solaris (Aka the Tyrant Sun from Morrison’s DC One Million) and Kuat, who is the sun god of the Kamayura people from the Amazon rain forest. Wonder Woman (Yara Flor) is set to fight the god from her pantheon, and Superman (Jon Kent) is set to fight the villain from his rogue’s gallery, but Watters throws in a little switcheroo that makes the match up an extra fun combination of mythology and science, brains and brawn. Having a hero fight another hero’s bad guy is just a plain enjoyable trope, and Watters, Leila Del Duca, and Nick Filardi lean into big time with hilarious reaction shots, flashy colors, clever monologuing, and one big, damn punch.
Speaking of punching, Future State: Superman/Wonder Woman #2 goes for more of a problem solving than a brawling angle in Yara and Jon’s battles against Solaris and Kuat. Because Solaris’ red sun negates Jon’s ability and makes him a formidable foe despite appearing in only a few stories, they have to use their smarts instead of brute force to defeat them. This is why Watters’ plotting is more Doctor Who and less, say, Geoff Johns’ Justice League as he introduces cool gadgets, knowledge of the future, and just plain grit for his heroes to save the day. He and Del Duca also deploy the power of multi-faceted characterization in crafting Yara and Jon’s plans, and the lack of extraneous guest stars in this issues means that we really get to know them better by the end of the story.
Their opponents say that Yara isn’t strong enough to fight Solaris, and that Jon isn’t smart enough to beat Kuat in a race especially without his full powers. However, the readers know this isn’t the case with Jon demonstrating a knowledge of systems theory combined with futuristic technology to make sure a planet from an alternate dimension doesn’t get sucked into a black hole. Also, Yara is a total badass and familiar with both Greek and indigenous Brazilian mythology so she basically knows the rules of stories and get herself out of a jam. (Watters writes her as a little more mature than Joelle Jones did in Future State: Wonder Woman.)
Future State: Superman/Wonder Woman #2 also explores the heroic burden that Jon has set for himself as he basically says that his job as Superman is to maintain Earth and beyond’s status quo in a stirring monologue coupled with some earnest facial expressions from Del Duca. Although it’s the future, he’s the embodiment of the Protestant work ethic and is always completing some task or other throughout the comic and seems deathly scared to delegate tasks to other heroes like Yara. Speaking of Yara, she provides a lighter counter-measure to Jon and believes in things like work/life balance (See the previous issue where she took a break from superheroing to have a drink with her buddies.) and disorganized organization as she figures out why Jon is disoriented and weakened in the first pages of the issue. Filardi uses big reds and blues that visually convey blaring alarms saying, “Superman down” in the first page, but then Leila Del Duca and Dan Watters nail a comedy beat with Yara trying to tame a Headless Mule.
Even though she’s a powerful hero, Yara doesn’t take herself too seriously and gets all the good one-liners. Leila Del Duca has her pull some hilarious faces and poses like when she rolls up to Solaris and says that she’s a last minute replacement for Jon and looks like she’s taking a quick call on her Bluetooth receiver. Watters and Del Duca strike the right balance between buddy comedy and epic battles. Jon gets to be part of a cosmic chariot race with Del Duca zooming out and show the sheer scale of a race around Earth and Pluto, but he also gets to have a sheepish grin and look like your friend who just lapped you at Mario Kart. The cosmic epic-meets-quirky comedy also extends to the villains with Solaris being a “center an entire crossover around him” type while Kuat just needs to be taken down a peg and have his yellow dwarf star sized ego massaged a little bit.
Future State: Superman/Wonder Woman #2 wraps up what is almost the platonic ideal of a superhero team-up with Dan Watters, Leila Del Duca, and Nick Filardi telling a tale of troubleshooting on a universal scale with plenty of wit, bright colors, and heroes acting, well, like heroes. Mythology, science fiction, and a pinch of snark (Mainly Yara telling Jon that Earth could survive without him.) all come together in perfect harmony and minimal continuity baggage.
Story: Dan Watters Art: Leila Del Duca
Colors: Nick Filardi Letters: Tom Napolitano
Story: 8.6 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
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