Years may go by, but the rivalry between Superman and Lex Luthor will always find ways to surprise us.

Superman vs. Imperious Lex 1
Written by Mark Russell
Pencils and Inks by Steve Pugh
Colors by Romulo Fajardo Jr.

While I have become a huge fan of Mark Russell’s writing over the last few years, I wouldn’t think that his style of sardonic societal commentary would be a good fit for my favorite hero, Superman. But with the right situation, like he presents in this FUTURE STATE issue, it works out so well.

The latest battle between Superman and his arch-nemesis Lex Luthor isn’t a physical one; instead, it’s a battle of political will and wits. The former billionaire industrialist has fled Earth and populated his own planet, Lexor, where he is worshipped as a benefactor and savior. And Luthor wants his new home recognized by entry into the United Planets.

Every single member of the United Planets, including Earth’s representative Lois Lane, instinctually goes to reject Luthor’s application, but then Superman returns from a deep space mission to tell a tale of his experiences on Lexor.

It’s not a story of Luthor’s rehabilitation. No, Superman tells the delegates of the United Planets that his nemesis is just as bad as ever – stealing energy from other planets to keep Lexor lush. When Superman discovered this, he disables Luthor’s machines and confronts Lex, only to be deterred by Lexor’s red son – because of course any planet Luthor moves to would be under a red son.

Also of note, the shots we get of Lex, he’s clearly wearing a Luthor mask and Luthor skin-toned gloves to cover something up. I wonder if he’s just hiding his age, or if something else is going on there.

Superman’s story strengthens the resolve of the delegates to deny Lexor’s admission to the United Planets, but the Man of Steel has another idea: let him in so he can be regulated, with Earth as Lexor’s sponsor. Apparently, even though Superman is a couple of decades older here, he’s still a little naive…

Of course, this all sets up a second issue with Superman and Lois working with Lex to get him up to speed for his conditional acceptance into the United Planets. No doubt that hilarity will ensue.

Leave it to the books starring Superman to bring up the percentage of fun FUTURE STATE books. Hopefully it continues with the rest of the story.