Mark Russell and Steve Pugh explore the nature of dictators and those who oppose them in Future State: Superman vs. Imperious Lex #1.
Written by Mark Russell
Art by Steve Pugh and Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Letters by Carlos M. Mangual
Published by DC
'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
The issue opens as the Inner Council of the United Planets meets to discuss various matters between their worlds. Eventually, they bring their attention to a petition for membership by Lex Luthor, who rules his own planet, Lexor. The Council swiftly moves to reject Luthor and his world, perhaps a bit too swiftly, as their own bylaws require them to deliberate for an hour. Mark Russell and Steve Pugh utilize the same humor that won them acclaim for The Flintstones, and the thoughtful examination of real-world issues in that series applies here as well.
Superman enters as a guest of the Inner Council and argues on behalf of the denizens of Lexor, and through flashback, the comic book explores how a well-intentioned, yet vulnerable, populace could fall prey to the designs of a narcissist like Lex Luthor. Superman recognizes that the majority of Lexor's denizens are prey to the propaganda that Luthor feeds them, ignorant to how Luthor's most loyal citizens (literal robots of destruction) are devastating other worlds.
The artwork by Pugh and Romulo Fajardo Jr. gives some fun nods to another famous story about interstellar battles with his designs for the Lexor and the worlds it preys on. And while the script emphasizes Superman's empathy, he isn't rendered ignorant to the fact that Luthor's most loyal followers must be held accountable for their actions and removed until they are no longer harmful to those around them.
The allegory here is obvious, but never preachy. Russell and Pugh instead highlight the strongest aspects of two iconic characters and end the book in a way that lets readers know there's still work to be done.
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