DC Future State: Superman vs. Imperious Lex (2021)
Lex Luthor has his own planet!
For some reason, Superman vs. Imperious Lex was released a full month after the previous seven Future State issues. It was a decent enough comic, but it wasn’t exceptional and it definitely wasn’t worth the wait. Regardless, this comic marks the last of the 52 Future State issues released between January and March 2021. You can find my reviews of all the Future State comics here. Also, I’ve already given a breakdown of the entire comic event here.
Superman vs. Imperious Lex opens with the Inner Council of the United Planets meeting at their new headquarters. The main topic of discussion is the energy shortages across the galaxy. Earth’s representative, Lois Lane, raises the membership requests she’s been receiving from Lex Luthor’s planet, Lexor. The United Planets Council sends Lois and Superman on a diplomatic mission to Lexor to determine what Lex is really up to. Immediately upon their arrival, Lex’s motives become clear.
My initial thoughts
I had very little interest in Superman vs. Imperious Lex. Initially, reading it felt like a chore. After all, this was my last Future State review. Fortunately, the comic has a fairly well written and compact story. Ultimately, I actually enjoyed the read.
What I liked
Superman vs. Imperious Lex sees Lex Luthor establish a planet called Lexor at the edge of the galaxy. There, he uses an army of robots to loot neighboring planets. His propaganda network convinces his population that he is a generous and effective leader. Lois and Superman spend the majority of their time in Lexor as antagonists in the eyes of the population.
I really enjoyed the politics of Superman vs. Imperious Lex. Lex Luthor has always been a smart, ruthless and effective leader. So to have him as a tyrant in his own planet is a good story concept. He’ll do whatever it takes to make sure that his people are taken care of. It’s not that he’s doing it out of the kindness of his heart. Instead, he’s doing it to keep his population complacent, reliant and unquestioning. To them, his methods are irrelevant as long as their needs being met. This political scenario isn’t too different from many real world situations.
The political commentary doesn’t end there for Superman vs. Imperious Lex. The robot army of Reticulants are waging wars and enslaving people to maintain Lexor’s standard of living. An effective propaganda network has convinced Lex’s population that he is a noble benefactor and must be protected for the good of the planet. Again, the real world comparisons are disturbingly relevant.
What I didn’t like
Superman vs. Imperious Lex missed an opportunity with its commentary. Instead of having Lex enslave and destroy neighboring planets, he should have reduced them to poverty. It would have been a much more effective narrative than the one used by the writer. Having Lex exploit their resources and force them to be economically dependent on Lexor for survival is a more nuanced story arc. It would have made Lex’s villainy less black-and-white. Additionally, it would have put Lois and Superman in a more difficult diplomatic position.
I’d recommend Superman vs. Imperious Lex to anyone who wants a quick standalone Superman story. The comic was mostly well-written and included some nice political commentary. Three issues is also a perfect number to tell this story. It’s not a great comic, but it is a good one.
Source: Future State: Superman vs. Imperious Lex 1-3 (Completed) (Russell, Pugh) (DC Comics) (2021)