The New 52: Futures End #1 Review
(w): Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Dan Jurgens, Keith Giffen
(a): Patrick Zircher, w/ Hi-Fi (c) and Dezi Sienty (l)
Futures End #1 (as I will be shortening it here, because really?) picks up after the Free Comic Book Day special ‘zero issue’ – literally, moments after, to the point where I’m not entirely certain this will be completely comprehensible to readers who missed that one. Terry McGinnis, protege of Bruce Wayne and hero of Batman Beyond, has been sent back in time by a dying Batman to prevent the impending apocalypse. Unfortunately, he arrived too late, years after the technology that will eventually destroy us all has been developed and put into use. Now trapped in the past, he has to race against time to try and prevent Brother Eye (built now by Mister Terrific instead of Batman, because God forbid Batman make any serious mistakes anymore) from taking over the world.
Well, presumably. That’s the hook as presented in Futures End #0. In this issue, however, we leave Terry after four pages and never come back to him, mostly so we can flash around to all the awful stuff happening in a world clearly meant to set-up McGinnis’ own apocalyptic future. A lengthy interlude showing a group of C-list heroes murdered doesn’t feel terribly necessary other than a way to shoehorn in an action scene – and a few shocking deaths, of course, the laughably juvenile lifeblood of a series like this. I understand introducing Grifter and Firestorm now, as both will apparently (… hopefully) be major characters moving forward. The Stormwatch scene, on the other hand, just feels gratuitous and a bit goofy. All, of course, are wrapped in the de rigueur gloom necessary for a New 52 title, amplified by about a billion percent and verging on self-parody.
Artist Patrick Zircher acquits himself well here. He’s displayed a long-standing talent for horror-tinged superheroics. Takea a look at that first page, as Terry stares out over the lightly-futuristic landscape. It’s thoughtful, interesting, gorgeous. It grips you in exactly the way a first page should. Zircher fares less well in the more traditionally superheroic moments of the script, which are cluttered with too many characters and only-vaguely-comprehensible action, but I suspect that’s more a case of being given little to work with. When Zircher (and colorist Hi-Fi) are allowed to stretch their muscles, they do some excellent work.
Ultimately, Futures End is tough to judge. By most standards, the series is opening far stronger than DC’s other big weekly, the surprisingly clumsy Batman Eternal. Zircher is an excellent artist, and the series has a deep bench of talented writers. But Batman Eternal has, if nothing else, a strong thematic hook that makes it feel vital even when the writing is off, and an expansive cast that gives it a suitably epic feel. Futures End – at least as I can see thus far – is about as bog-standard as can be, saying little and saying it with a minimum of style. What differentiates this particular grim, heroes-as-possessed-monstrosities future from that of Rotworld or the superior Final Crisis? I get it, it’s cool, but ‘cool’ doesn’t keep people interested. I know things aren’t going to “change forever” and everyone who dies here will still be featured every month in their typical book, so aside from big epic violence, why should I read your book? It’s a point I made in my recent review of Southern Bastards #1, but a good first issue sells itself to you, tells you what you’ll be reading and why that should grab you. Futures End #1 never does that. It’s a reasonably solid debut, but it feels – thus far, at least – as soulless as the machines McGinnis is trying to destroy.
My Rating: 2 / 5