If you’ve been following this series, you know the snail’s pace that each story unfolds. Some story lines go a couple issues before they are even touched upon. Where is Tim? Where is Terry? Why do these stories seem like they belong in separate comics? Well, let me assure you: it has not been an easy road ( $53 and change plus tax so far…gasp!) but this issue feels pretty solid, if not juicy. Big reveals, good action, decent suspense, and terrific artwork: it’s all here. If you’ve been vested in this series so far, let out a good cry, remember those weeks of drought, take refuge in the knowledge you’ve gained about these characters, and enjoy this issue. There is no Bat Family, so forget about that. There is just some payoff that could seem a bit inflated were it not for how thirsty we Futures End readers have become.
- The Horn of Africa — First, I have to say how happy I am that Patrick Zircher was the artist for this issue. I say “the artist” because apparently he is covering both pencils and inks like a number of current artists are doing. That statement doesn’t take away from the importance of a good inker. An inker does not simply trace; they add a depth and form to our comic book pages that an inexperienced penciller would not be able to accomplish. The inker thing aside, Zircher’s art is fantastic. He has an eye for motion, the cues for direction, and accomplishes some of my favorite build-up shots to large page spreads. I’m very pleased with how this issue looked. But on to the Horn of Africa. Constantine and crew are out looking for this death-delivering being (the pinkish purple guy from #8) whom Constantine fears is out to destroy all existence. He believes this ancient being is looking for someone and yet Constantine hopes to find that person before the ancient being finds him by following in the being’s footsteps.
- Cadmus Island — Stuff goes down here. Hawkgirl of Earth-2 is being led to a doctor who is checking on her E2 implant that just happens to be growing. We knew this from Mister Miracle. Near the holding cells of Earth-2 super powered beings, Slade, Fifty Sue, Grifter, and Lana Lang (you know, Clark Kent’s childhood friend…my bad) are all hanging around waiting for Grifter to use his special “seeing of deception” abilities. That is until… SpoilerThe cell doors fly open. Grifter, who has solid white eyes, punches Slade and the Earth-2 heroes go bananas on the guards. Fifty Sue teleports the four of them away from danger while they watch all these loose beings with solid white eyes go crazy.
- Vancouver, British Columbia — If you don’t know or can’t figure it out with context clues, a truncheon is a baton. Just tuck that knowledge away. Barda and Emiko meet Diggle who brings Emiko a green bow. Barda pitches a fit (though she says she’s happily traveled blindly for weeks) that she wants to know where they are going. They are going to an island that is holding Earth-2 survivors, including Barda’s husband, and killing the one who is responsible for murdering Green Arrow. This should be good.
- Metropolis — Rampage is losing her mind on the masked Superman right in front of Lois Lane. Rampage is causing major damage to Supes, and Lois seems oblivious to how much more vulnerable this Superman is. Who is the masked Superman? SpoilerRampage has Superman in a choke hold, nearly killing him when Lois distracts her, giving Superman the air to breathe and utter the word, “Shazam.” At which point lightning violently shoots down from heaven and blows Rampage away, turning Superman/Shazam into Billy Batson. Someone called it, I know. A few things are interesting. One: Shazam is clearly less powerful than Superman. Two: where in the world is Clark? Three: Billy is older. Of course he is, it’s five years in the future, but it’s still a neat touch that he’s not just a little kid. The masked Superman was Shazam. Now the question becomes, “Why was he Superman at all?”
- The Horn of Africa (again) — Constantine and crew have wandered out into the desert only to find nothing but sand and exhaustion. Midge so kindly tells John there is nothing out there, to which John replies, “There will be. I can feel…” What happens next? SpoilerA giant geyser erupts from the dry desert ground. Then another and another that blows Constantine and his two pals away, revealing a very Man of Steel Clark Kent standing shirtless with glowing eyes. “Kal-El of Krypton, I presume?” asks Constantine. And I about wet my pants. No, not really. But I was glad to see what I hope is a friendly face amongst all this craziness. Is this Kal-El? Why is Shazam playing dress up? Why did the Earth-2 folks attack with those solid white eyes? So many questions, but I will take solace in the knowledge that we did gain something. Clark’s (hopefully this is Earth-1 Clark) alive. Shazam was the masked Superman. Emiko and Barda are attacking Cadmus island. Lots of real stuff is gained from this issue.
- You’ve been following Futures End and you need some payoff.
- You care who the Masked Superman is.
- You feel like Constantine might be on to something.
For all the crap I’ve given Futures End both deservedly and undeservedly, this issue pays off in a way that says,”Listen readers. You have hung in there for quite some time. Here’s a bone with some meat on it to chew. You deserve it.” The artwork is terrific. The reveals are quite something, even if they only ask more questions than they answer. Just bask in it and don’t be so critical when you read it. Enjoy it, because this much forward action may or may not happen again for a while. Here’s hoping for more issues like this one.