Warning: spoilers ahead for Future State: House of El #1!
DC Comics’ latest Superman story is the Kryptonian version of Game of Thrones. Set in the year 3000 for DC’s Future State event, the descendants of Kal-El have formed a dynasty known as the House of El in the far future of the DC Universe, though this new one-shot sees them in the throes of civil war. Carrying the thematic undertones of a medieval fantasy dynasty, the House of El is not unlike Game of Thrones‘ House Stark, as the two families actually share quite a few similarities.
At the start of the issue, the House of El is preparing for war with the Red King, and many family members are introduced, led by the new Superman known as Ronan Kent. Additionally, all of the family members bear the El family crest, otherwise known as the classic “S” symbol on the original Superman’s chest. Taking refuge in their Fortress of Sanctuary based on the moon, the House of El is under siege, and Ronan’s sister Rowan (a Blue Lantern) arrives will ill-tidings. The United Planets’ forces have fallen, meaning that the House of El won’t be receiving any more support.
The similarities between the Els and the Starks abound as Future State: House of El #1 from writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson and artist Scott Godlewski progresses. While the Starks faced the Night King and his army of the dead, the House of El is repelling the forces of the Red King and his armies of Parademons, Doomsdays, and other deadly threats. Just as the Starks cleave to their motto, “Winter Is Coming”, the Els have turned Superman’s “Truth and Justice” into their creed, and both command forces who have sworn fealty to their noble houses – both even have family members named Brandon.
Not only that, but the Red King is revealed to be the illegitimate son of Kal-El; their ancestor and head of their house, born out of a deception thanks to the efforts of the sorceress Circe to weaken the original Superman. Remarkably, Kal-El arrives at the battle’s peak, facing his wayward son in battle after breaking free from another dimension he had long been trapped in thanks to Circe. However, he does offer his son a chance to redeem himself and forge a new path for his life, not unlike Jon Snow, who joined the Night’s Watch to likewise change the course of his life, as it had long been believed that he was the illegitimate son of Eddard Stark.
While this one-shot moves fast, the legacy of Superman created by Future State: House of El is an epic one, carrying all of the grandeur and intrigue of family dynasties that Game of Thrones is famous for, and telling a type of story fans rarely see in mainstream superhero comics. The idea of giving Superman a more complex legacy than just his modern-day heroism – and of exploring how a godlike hero would shape the future as his family expands – is a fascinating one, promising to depict Superman in a shocking new light without ignoring or diminishing his more traditional stories. Superman fans will be excited to see more of the House of El in future issues beyond this Future State one-shot, so fingers crossed that this won’t be the last fans see of the Kryptonian version of the Starks.