With the DC Universe radically transformed during Future State, a weird cult dedicated to Superman has shown up in Smallville.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Future State: Superman — Worlds of War #1, by Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Mikel Janin, Jordie Bellaire and Dave Sharpe, on sale now.
Future State: Superman — Worlds of War #1 is just as the title implies: all-out war as the Man of Steel is thrown into a gladiator arena by Mongul. However, as the first issue closes on that ominous note, there’s something deeper than just a big fight.
The story spends most of its timing making a deep-dive into the mental and spiritual warfare Kal-El left back home in Smallville. All of this comes to light thanks to his most disturbing fan club: the cult of Superman.
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This unfolds from a young lady, Sadie’s, perspective as she visits Smallville, hoping to understand more about the homage being paid. But what she meets is a polarized town that’s no longer all about farms or corn. It’s a pseudo-celebrity site but with a sinister air as different offshoots have arisen who blindly believe that Superman is a god, and others who just want to capitalize and make money. The latter has people offering tours, selling off stuff the Kents owned, having instruments, and passing them off as Kryptonian so they can profit off lessons, while there’s also the Teaching of Kal-El. This is based on the Church of Krypton where his old science teacher, Mr. Niles, is passing off Clark’s chemistry notes as scripture from their idol.
It weirds Sadie out that they’re talking about prophecies and him being a messiah, which ties into the water tower with “Come Home” painted on it. She realizes how far-gone these devout followers who come from across the globe really are. Still, she gives some benefit of the doubt because, at a night sermon, some people talk about how Superman saved them, whether it’s from a suicide bomber in Jerusalem, or from falling off a bridge during a Magog attack in Metropolis, or from other Lovecraftian monsters. Then there are extremists, thinking Clark didn’t leave — he got sucked into a different dimension and killed. Some posit he’s a shape-shifter, an immortal, someone who got fed up and went off conquering, someone who got lazy and abandoned Earth, someone who set the planet up for a new and hostile Kryptonian invasion, while others think he’s pure energy.
It’s a powder keg and a dangerous, deluded one at that. Sadie’s extra upset too because they’ve forgotten his most important aspect and it’s not his power. It’s his humanity, especially as Clark and not Superman, that saved her. Yet she’s chided as all people care about are his powers.
This scares her off because these people have lost hope, and that sense of truth, justice, and dreaming the American Way. There’s no telling if these people of differing opinions could turn on each other or if other zealots who don’t believe in the cult might attack Smallville. All Sadie knows is this is not a world Superman would be proud of.
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