Comic Review – The New 52: Futures End #48

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he is going to attempt a mini review of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.

There will be definite spoilers

This week saw the finales of all three of DC Comics’ weekly series, before the Convergence event starts next week. As I have kept up with two of them since the beginning, I’ve decided to review both of them. Futures End started back in May 2014, and throughout its 48 issue run it has been written by the team of Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Dan Jurgens and Keith Giffen. This issue was drawn by Allan Goldman, Freddie Williams II, Andy McDonald and Stephen Thompson, with additional inks from Scott Hanna, colours by Hi-Fi and letters from Tom Napolitano.

Taking over as the new Batman Beyond a couple of issues ago, former Robin Tim Drake (from 5 years in the future of the current DCU) travelled back in time to avert an inter-dimensional incursion and put a stop to the desolate world controlled by the AI Brother Eye 35 years from now (so 30 years from his timepoint). After convincing Brother Eye to self destruct, he returned to his own time to find his girlfriend Madison waiting for him… or so he thought. It turns out he had been sent forward 35 years, finding that this was an illusion, and the nightmare future had still happened. All the heroes, villains and civilians had all still been infected and turned into twisted cyborg puppets by Brother Eye, and Drake was up next. Fortunately a resistance group, including The Atom, Amethyst and an older Madison, turn up to save him, and they all escape into the sewers. The team shows Tim that they have lost, no matter what they have tried, no matter what he or Terry McGinnis did. But he refuses to believe that, leaving the series on a cliffhanger ending staring down a crumbling city overlooked by a Brother Eye-emblazoned moon.

If that didn’t really make a lot of sense, that’s probably because the issue and series as a whole has walked that line a lot over the last 48 issues. I think Futures End had a good premise, a sort of reverse Terminator with Batman Beyond sent back from a horrible world to prevent the terrible mistakes that led to it. And things go wrong, as is standard. But the story got bogged down and dragged out in Earth-2 invasions, Cadmus and somewhat predictably Brainiac, largely starring a cast of relatively less well known characters. I wouldn’t really have a problem with this last point if they had at any point given me a reason to care about what happened to any of them. Futures End could have made a decent (if slightly depressing) mini-series, but the nearly year-long run has been bloated and largely pointless. Especially when it turns out that the entire mission totally failed anyway, thus rendering everything else redundant as it is unlikely that the 5 years from now storylines will be revisited. A more satisfying story may have spent more time in the Brother Eye future, which seems more ripe for a compelling narrative, rather than just the #0 issue, this one and a few scattered moments in between. This final issue is fine overall with regards to the writing (though I remain unclear on who wrote each issue), the dialogue is decent too, but it doesn’t read at all like a culmination of everything before it. It doesn’t even read like a finale, probably because it isn’t one really, just a set up for whatever is coming next.

The art is mostly average, again similar to the entire run. There has rarely been anything particularly spectacular shown off, rather it has always been inconsistent as there seemed to be about four artists on every issue, and never a stylistic reason for it happening (as there was in the final issue of Batman Eternal this week). Again, a mini series or event of this may have gone further and allowed for more consistency in the art by not having to stick to the weekly schedule. Although the last page was pretty good. I just have no idea who drew it.

Futures End was a nice concept pulled down by its own run length and inconsistency. The finale was an average read, with a serviceable story and art and an ending that effectively says what we all know – no matter what you do to try and change things for the better, nothing will change and everything you do is ultimately, crushingly pointless. Fin.

Score: 5 Creepy Hero Statues out of 10

Comic Review – The New 52: Futures End #14

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he is going to attempt a mini review of his favourite one, with potential minor spoilers.

I thought I would finally do a review of Futures End this week, as I have been reading it for 3 1/2 months now and everything else I’ve bought this week is eiither part of the Superman: Doomed event, or a series I have already reviewed. Also, I know, third DC comics review in a row. I’m sorry, next one with be creator owned or Marvel, I promise (don’t hold me to that, money is tight). Futures End is the second weekly DC book this year, the first being Batman Eternal and the last being Earth 2: World’s End. Writing duties are apparently split (unclearly) between Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Dan Jurgens and Keith Giffen (more on that later), with pencils from Aaron Lapresti, inks from Art Thibert, colours by Hi-Fi and letters from Taylor Esposito.

Futures End is set (mostly) 5 years into the future of the current DC universe. The story started in the Free Comic Book Day Futures End #0, 35 years from the present day. In a bleak apocalyptic future, Brother Eye (a sentient satellite) has taken over and converted most of the world’s heroes and villains into grotesque cyborg-zombie creations, having achieved near complete control of the globe. The last remaining heroes mount a final desperate attempt to thwart him, it fails, leaving Batman (of course) to his backup plan – travel back in time to the present day, to prevent this from ever happening. However, Brother Eye’s forces arrive and wound Bruce before transport is ready, forcing him to send back Terry McGinnis (Batman Beyond) in his stead. Unfortunately, things go awry and Terry arrives 5 years too late, with things already in motion that will lead to the terrible future his is trying to prevent.

Issue #14 picks up with Big Barda and Emiko facing off against Deathstroke and Fifty Sue, agents for Cadmus trying to round up ‘unregistered super-powered alternate Earth fugitives’. We also see some more from Grifter and Fifty Sue (apparently she can be in two places at once) investigating the stealth OMAC on Cadmus island, there is a small check in Terry and the folks he plans on breaking into Terrifitech with, but this thread doesn’t really move forward a lot (considering it is ultimately what I would consider the main plot), and an even smaller catch up with Cal (ex-Red Robin). The main revelation comes right at the end, with Lois Lane being shown a mysterious vision of an alternate world or strange future. Not a lot is really made clear from it, it is more a cliffhanger ending that all of the Futures End issues seem to end on. There is also a nice little tease about what is going on with Superman which should be pretty interesting.

The writing in this issue is fine, and while the dialogue is a bit shaky at points it isn’t too noticeable (though I am getting  a bit bored of all the references to ‘the war’ that happened at some point in the 5 years with Earth 2). The quality of both the story and dialogue has varied greatly from issue to issue,  with it being particularly bad in a couple of them. Writing duties are split between 4 well known writers, and we don’t know who is writing each but it doesn’t make for a totally cohesive experience.  The art is pretty good here, with the action in particular looking nice. Occasionally the faces are a bit off, in particular the first panel with Cal in it. That is not what a beard looks like on someone’s face., especially as the amount of it changes in the next panel.

Overall I am enjoying the story, but I care a great deal less about some story arcs (for example, Grifter’s internment on Cadmus Island) than I do others (I find Cal’s story and beard oddly compelling, plus I really could do with more from the 35 years in the future era) so find it frustrating when an issue focusses more on something that, at the moment, doesn’t seem to be advancing the plot much at all. I’m also not completely clear on why everyone needs to be a dick in the future. I feel like if this was a monthly comic, with each of the many story threads (some of which don’t appear at all in this issue) moving at the same pace in between issues, I would have dropped it by now. The story moves at a decent pace as a weekly book, but the drawback to that is that you are shelling out for it much more often. This issue was fairly average, some have been borderline terrible while some have been particularly good.  I’m going to stick with it, mainly because I am invested at this stage and want to see how it all plays out. Next month are the one-shot Futures End comics for each of the regular monthly DC books, to see where each of the characters are in 5 years. If you don’t really care about DC books, or are only really interested in a few characters, maybe give the series a miss. If you are interested in what that is all about and aren’t already reading it, check out Futures End. I think it should be relatively easy to pick up from any issue, but back issues are probably quite easy to find anyway (or go digital).

Score: 6 OMACs out of 10