What does the future hold? In an era of ecological disaster and political crisis, it sometimes feels hard to imagine a beautiful or hopeful future — hence the dystopia glut. But the first step to creating a better future is imagining one, and on that front, comics are here to help.
This month sees the launch of several new comics about colorful futures. DC’s Legion of Super-Heroes welcomes readers to the 31st century, where the Earth has managed to survive (albeit at a cost) and has a platoon of bright-eyed young superheroes to defend it. Far Sector introduces the City Enduring, an intergalactic metropolis built around a Dyson sphere (a hypothetical mega-structure capable of processing the energy of an entire star; look it up if you want to get lost down a futurism rabbit hole!) whose inhabitants have managed to excise both emotion and crime — for a time, at least. Then there’s Image’s Undiscovered Country, which sends its protagonists on a life-or-death mission inside a Mad Max-ified America.
Below, check out EW’s picks for comics to read this November.
Legion of Super-Heroes #1 (DC Comics)
Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Ryan Sook (artist)
It’s finally time to go back to the future. After months of buildup in Superman and the two-part Millennium prelude, DC’s much-anticipated Legion of Super-Heroes revival finally kicks off with a new ongoing comic this month. Superboy, a.k.a. Jon Kent, the son of Superman and Lois Lane, has been brought into the 31st century as an honored guest of the Legion of Super-Heroes, a futuristic team of champions inspired by his example.
In the days when DC continuity held that Clark Kent went on adventures even as a teenager and called himself Superboy, he would often time-travel to the future and hang out with the Legion. He was an integral part of the Legion concept; later on, Crisis on Infinite Earths rewrote continuity so that those Superboy years never happened, and the franchise has struggled ever since. The new Superboy’s presence is key to this Legion revival, and will hopefully make it stick more than past reboot attempts. He gives the reader a point-of-view character, zooming around the far-future Earth to see how the planet has survived so far into the future (hint: It looks quite a bit different now!). The first issue throws a lot of ideas into the air (Superboy’s moving so fast he doesn’t even stop to attend Brainiac 5’s carefully prepared Legion orientation), but it’s clear right away that Sook’s bright art is perfectly suited to this utopian vision of enduring heroism.
Pre-order Legion of Super-Heroes #1 here.
Far Sector #1 (DC Comics)
N.K. Jemisin (writer), Jamal Campbell (artist)
N.K. Jemisin is the best fantasy writer in the world right now. So what self-respecting genre fan would want to miss out on her first-ever superhero comic? Far Sector is a Green Lantern story, but unlike any you’ve ever seen. Readers don’t need to be familiar with the history of Hal Jordan and John Stewart to follow the adventures of Sojourner “Jo” Mullein, a Janelle Monae-resembling Green Lantern sent to patrol the massive galactic metropolis called the City Enduring. Jo soon finds herself investigating a mysterious murder. That may sound like standard superhero fare, but it’s a rare occurrence in the City Enduring, which long ago banned its citizens from feeling emotions in order to keep peace between the three alien species who inhabit the city’s Dyson sphere. Jemisin’s trademark imaginative world-building is at work with these races and their distinct cultures: The keh-Topli evolved from plants, while the humanoid Nah bear names like Marth of the Sea, By the Wavering Dark, Until the Sun Falls, and the A.I. race known as the @AT’s have names like Twitter handles.
Campbell’s art, meanwhile, makes Jo’s early interactions with the representatives of these races look so dramatic that it will be a delight to see where things go once actual fights start breaking out in the City Enduring.
Undiscovered Country #1 (Image)
Charles Soule & Scott Snyder (writers), Giuseppe Camuncoli & Daniele Orlandini (artists)
What is America going to look like in the near future? It’s an open question currently at the heart of the nascent 2020 presidential race, and every other ongoing debate in American cultural discourse.
This new Image series tackles that question with imaginative insight. At an unspecified future date, Africa and Europe have banded together in an alliance, while the United States has shut itself off from the rest of the world. The only problem is, the U.S. might be the only location of a possible cure to a plague that’s ravaging the other countries. So a select team is sent into America, the first outsiders to touch down there in years, and soon find themselves faced with a Mad Max-style wasteland populated by roving gangs of colorful creatures. Knowing Snyder and Soule, there are probably way more twists coming, and the art from Camuncoli and Orlandini promises that this will be a fun future to explore — for the readers, if not the characters.
Pre-order Undiscovered Country #1 here.
November: Book One (Image Comics)
Matt Fraction (writer), Elsa Charretier (artist)
Matt Fraction has been on a roll lately thanks to his ongoing Jimmy Olsen comic with artist Steve Lieber, but this month brings something slightly outside his normal wheelhouse. November, the first installment of a graphic-novel trilogy with artist Elsa Charretier, is a fascinating noir that pits three normal women against an obscure but terrifying conspiracy. There are no easy answers yet, but the mystery is intoxicating.
“This is the most formal piece of work I’ve ever done,” Fraction told EW this summer. “I don’t think I have a novel in me, but I have this. All the tools and thoughts I’ve got about how comics work and what comics can do have gone into this.”
Order November here.
Bill Sienkiewicz: Revolution (Six Foot Press)
Okay, this one is technically more of an art book than a comic book, strictly speaking, but its showcase of one of the most innovative comic artists of the last few decades earns it a spot on this list. Several superhero shows from the last few years (such as Legion and the Elektra-centric season of Daredevil) owe a debt to Sienkiewicz’s work, but also can’t compare to his unique style. This book is a treasure trove of Sienkiewicz’s art from over the years (including segments from his work on Marvel’s New Mutants, his Jimi Hendrix biography Voodoo Child, and more). Even if you’ve seen his work before, you haven’t seen it like this.
“I loved how he hovered between realism and surrealism, the way he seemed to understand how to make any picture of anything in whatever style he needed to tell it,” Neil Gaiman writes in the intro.
Order Bill Sienkiewicz: Revolution here.