First of all, that’s a super-cool cover. Second of all, I know I said in my review of issue #0 that things would probably be summed up pretty well in issue #1 for those who couldn’t get a Free Comic Book Day copy, but it looks like I was wrong. You’re going to enjoy this more if you already read issue #0. Unfortunately, if you can’t find a copy of issue #0 at your local comic shop, the book has not yet appeared on Comixology or other digital outlets, but hopefully it’ll be available by next week. Now, on with the show…

Issue #1 picks up precisely where issue #0 left off with Terry McGinnis of Batman Beyond stranded 5 years in our future. This is not good. He wanted to go back farther, but the time machine was programmed for Bruce’s measurements and as the A.L.F.R.E.D. artificial intelligence in Terry’s cowl tells him, “You don’t measure up.” Miscalculations happen and our time traveling hero arrives too late to stop the apocalypse from happening, or at least from stopping it the easy way. What did he have to do? It’s not explicitly stated, but we know that Mr. Terrific invents something called “Brother Eye” (longtime DC fans will know all about it already) and that Skynet-equivalent is responsible for all of our distant woes.

Terry is only featured briefly, everyone is, actually. The comic drifts from one narrative thread to the next, introducing us to a large cast that wasn’t present in the Free Comic Book Day prequel. There’s Terry’s confusion and a hilariously witty Alfred followed by some absolutely brutal action and then we don’t see him anymore. Instead, we turn our attention to characters that casual readers will be unfamiliar with and I think that’s a fantastic idea. The weekly comic format is a brilliant way to familiarize readers with DC properties that never quite took off. It’s hard to keep people excited and eager to learn more about little-known comic character at $3 bucks for 20 pages once every 30 days– not counting delays. But if you make them a part of a major event that effects the entire DC Universe and have that comic available every week so they get the exposure they need? Well, it just might make these heroes into household names. I know there are a bunch of characters in here that I’m unfamiliar with because I’ve never read an issue of Firestorm or Stormwatch or Grifter, etc. etc. So bear with me as I try and give my first-timer perspective to these other players.

First we turn to Stormwatch, who appear to be a Guardians of the Galaxy-type crew made up of who I can only assume are Midnighter, Opposite of Midnighter, Not-Platinum, Fish-Alien, Hawkman, and their leader, Regular Guy. This space-traveling team is the first to encounter a terrible force on its way to Earth and we get a heck of a lot of action out of this scene. But in case Star Trek-esque space battles aren’t your thing we immediately return to North Carolina where The Grifter is gunning down an entire family. It’s a shocking couple of pages if you look at the imagery alone, but Grifter’s narration explains that this is not what it seems. He compares his actions to those who fought back in the sci-fi horror film “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” but it looks and sounds to me a lot more like he has more in common with Roddy Piper in “They Live.” And if you haven’t seen “They Live,” go do so. It has one of the best fight scenes ever (it’s a five and a half minute alleyway brawl) and is a premise that would make an AWESOME video game! But anyway, if you’re telling me that Grifter is like “They Live” then I’m all for it.

While Grifter’s scene was definitely intriguing, it didn’t seem to tie into the overall story that well, that’s where Firestorm comes into play. We see that the two guys who make up the hero Firestorm still aren’t getting along and one’s selfish behavior and desire to live a more normal life is responsible for a terrible tragedy connected to the oncoming storm of Brother Eye. I’m always on the fence about Firestorm. Sometimes he looks cool and sometimes he doesn’t, he sounds far too powerful to be interesting, but I like the dynamic of his performance requiring two people to unite as one but they’re never adversarial enough to make it truly interesting for me. Often times, seeing the two engage in psychic bickering just makes me laugh because it reminds me of “The Thing With Two Heads.” And if you haven’t seen “The Thing With Two Heads” then that’s fine, the trailer is all you need.

The illustration in this issue is strong and complemented well by Hi-Fi’s colors. The brief Grifter scene was especially cinematic and it’s just cool to see artist Patrick Zircher play with so many diverse characters. There’s an impressive amount of content to be found in this issue without it all feeling cramped or hurried in any way and the contrast between the grounded Grifter scene and the over-the-top sci-fi scenes with Firestorm or Stormwatch prove Zircher is gifted and can handle any kind of action thrown his way by Futures End’s deep writing bench. The final page is by far the most memorable to me and is a splash page sure to give fans plenty to talk about.

Recommended If…

  • Batman Beyond coming into the regular DC continuity has you excited
  • You like the more esoteric champions of the DC Universe. Ever read Stormwatch? What about Grifter?
  • Wild, time-traveling sci-fi with a big cast of characters and a guarantee of new reading material every week for a year is right up your alley
  • You want a quick read. This comic flew by and that’s not a bad thing considering we get a new chapter in just 7 days
  • You’re familiar with the work of Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Dan Jurgens, and Keith Giffen and want to see what they churn out together

Overall

It doesn’t quite have the wow-factor of issue #0, but it makes all the necessary introductions and features some impressive action. Futures End proves to be a great way to give a few of the lesser known DC heroes something important to do for a change.

SCORE: 7/10