Kryptonian civil war rages amongst the descendants of Superman in Future State: Superman: House of El #1 (opens in new tab), a double-sized one-shot that pitches the legacy of Superman as a Game of Thrones-esque slice of cosmic fantasy.
Written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Art by Scott Godlewski and Gabe Eltaeb
Lettering by Troy Peteri
Published by DC
'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
Phillip Kennedy Johnson eschews quiet character in favor of cinematic siege warfare, drawn ably by artist Scott Godlewski. Ronan Kent holds the title of Superman here, backed up by a team that fills out the usual fantasy archetypes with a decidedly Kryptonian spin.
Godlewski has fun with the visuals here. Between the Blue Lantern who wears the S as a construct, a mixed-race Kryptonian/Tamaranean and the Red-Son-meets-Warhammer vibes of the Red King, there's loads of eye candy here. Liberally daubed in thematically appropriate blue and red by Gabe Eltaeb, House of El is a slick looking book with a fluid sense of pace.
However, there's just too much going on here. This one-shot serves as an introduction to a new group of characters and an entire new war. If that wasn't enough, it tries to wrap the whole thing up in 44 pages. Ultimately, there's too much of an emphasis on action to do justice to the core concept. It's a tricky task, and with so much real estate given to spectacle, it's difficult to find a reason to care.
Despite the breakneck pace hampering things, each new character is a unique and decently fleshed-out person. There's real potential here in this world of conquesting Kryptonians, with all the courtroom intrigue, shared allegiances, and brotherly backstabbing that suggests. I want to read more in this world. I want to see more of this conflict. Offered up as is Future State: House of El is a frustrating hint of something better.
The creators of Future State; Superman: House of El are continuing on as part of a new era in the ongoing Superman and Action Comics titles later this year.