Sometimes a story comes from nowhere and knocks you flat. Sometimes it’s because it’s wholly original. Sometimes it’s a character piece that changes a character forever. And sometimes it’s a glimpse into a familiar yet different world where a favorite character is completely changed, for the better. If you can’t tell, that last one is what I saw in House of El.
The Superman legacy has been explored many times in DC Comics canon. However, it’s never quite been explored like this, in this fascinating issue that’s practically a wrap-up of Future State as a whole. It was created by Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Scott Godlewski, Gabe Eltaeb, and Troy Peteri.
In the far future, the House of El is on its last leg. The descendants of Superman- from their leader Ronan, to his sister Blue Lantern Rowan, to the warlike Kahn-El, to the regal Queen Theand’r Ban-El- are Earth’s last hope against the Red King, a despotic monster. Their only hope lies in a final battle… and perhaps the return of a legend…
I’ve been cautiously optimistic about Johnson’s Superman since it was announced. Frankly, I was frustrated that the Superman line was continuing with a single creative voice, after that tactic fell short in the Bendis era of the Man of Steel, and with nationalistic elements in Johnson’s past writing. However, if the upcoming runs of Superman and Action Comics are anything like this issue, Kal-El is in good hands.
Johnson demonstrated that he understands the difference between Superman’s legacy and that of any other hero. He shows this through the very different characters that headline this story, and the one thing they have in common- their sense of good and right. By showing them at their lowest, their actions are even more inspiring. Along with that, he made each of the characters a fully formed person on the page, even if we didn’t get more than a few panels with some of them.
Godlewski’s line art meets the challenge that the script presents. Each character has a distinct design that draws the reader in. The action flows well through the page, and when the Red King’s army invades halfway through the book, the layouts convey a sense of chaos that is engrossing. He also knows how to create a splash page, with several that makes the action pause as you study its detail.
Eltaeb’s colors do a great job too. He keeps them bright, which creates a sense that these are heroes, not an army, with unearthly glows and bright flares that capture the sci-fi spirit of the action. Frankly, the only complaint I have is that Theand’r’s skin tone isn’t closer to other Tameranian characters in DC’s pantheon, like Starfire, as it is on the cover. However, in general it’s great work.
Any fan of the Superman mythos or the DC Universe in general should pick up this book. It’s worth every moment.
Future State- Superman: House of El #1 is available now from DC Comics.
A far future Superman family tale captures the spirit of the Man of Steel and his legacy, with a great script and fantastic art.