That cover is worth the price alone!  Last year, I felt that the villain’s month covers were little more than a gimmick to draw in buyers and whenever the comic shop had standard covers available I would always buy them because I was only interested in the story and I didn’t think the lenticular covers were worth an extra dollar.  Today, when I went to the comic shop I was fully prepared to swap out my lenticular cover for a standard, but as my friendly comic shop employee passed me the issue, something unexpected happened: this newer, more refined version of the lenticular cover was actually awesome!  While last years, covers had layers that appeared to be no deeper than three or four, I am getting the impression that this Tec cover has at least seven, maybe even eight layers of depth.  The rain, smoke, and cloud covered moon are all depicted at varying depths, and even Batman himself appears to have four layers devoted to him.  Buildings in the background…roof edge in the fore…I’ll admit it DC: you won me over!  This would be worth it even if there were no story behind that glorious cover; this will be framed by this weekend, and I’m not just saying that for dramatic effect.  I will add that I picked up the Grayson issue today as well, and didn’t have quite the feeling of awe as the one I got from the Tec cover; it has the same technical improvements in the lenticular but the image didn’t really benefit too much from the new technology.  Enough about the cover already, on to the actual review!

I would liken this issue to an episode of Batman: Black & White:  it isn’t important in the bigger scheme of things, can ignore or include whatever details, take part in any chosen time, and tell any story without worrying about continuity as it isn’t a part of it.  If you’ve been a fan of these kinds of stories this is definitely up your alley, but if you’re more the type who demands that things “mean” something then you should probably stay away.  This is just a fun little story with an unexpected ending that should be taken at face value and nothing more.  Being set in the future, it has a couple of Batman toys that I know I would berate if they showed up in the present continuity, but as it stands they are fun.  His suit holds true to that statement as well, not something I would want to see all the time, but an interesting tactical design that is nice for a visual change of pace.  It is strange that the cover shows a classic Batman suit while the interior goes with something completely different, but I like that cover so much I’m not really going to complain about it.

As the story goes, it is pretty straight forward and easy to follow.  Nothing too complex is broached and everything that is new to the world feels plausible and doesn’t need a lot of back story explaining how it happened in order for you to be able to accept that it could.  There are a few references to other stories that have taken place across a variety of books within the last year and I could see how, having not read those, might make the story confusing for some, but for the most part, even if you don’t know the minute details of these issues, the general plot of the story is not contingent to such knowledge.  Character wise, the Riddler is up to par with recent depictions (as arrogant as ever) and spouting riddles, retorts, and insults a plenty.  He is just a character you love to hate and he has a few lines that are absolutely smack worthy.

Batman171

I need to get a Riddler punching clown!

Francis Manapul sits this issue out and I was surprised to find that it has been Buccellato’s coloring this whole time that has been giving their run its signature look.  Scott Hepburn, the artist doing the first half of the book isn’t drawing like Manapul and yet it is very reminiscent of his work due to the coloring being provided.  I am, in no way, trying to displace Manapul as an important element of their success; merely recognizing that Buccellato is highly more talented than I had originally realized.  Cliff Richards provides pencils for the second half of the story and while I think I actually preferred his pencils to Hepburn, I felt Richard’s Batman wasn’t as well defined.  When you look at Hepburn’s Batman you get the sense that he is covered in straps and harnesses while Richard’s Batman looks like he is wearing a suit out of one of the 90’s Batman movies.  Where everything was molded from one piece

Spoiler

  • Any future in which Batman is still calling Alfred Penny-One is a future I want nothing to do with.

Interesting Facts:

  • The Green Goblin first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #14 (1964)….whoa…whoa…whoa…am I drunk or something? What does that have to do with anything? Well, in the future it looks like the DC and Marvel Universe must have collided because, if I’m not mistaken, it looks like Batman jacked the Green Goblin’s ride.
  • The ad campaign for Futures End says: The Past Cannot Change…The Future is in Motion.  I believe September 2011 might disagree with this…
  • If you haven’t been getting your daily recommended dose of Riddler and this issue doesn’t cut it for you, check out Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #185-189 (2005), Riddle Me That. 

Recommended if…

  • You’re wanting a fun, done-in-one, with a cute twist.
  • You’re like me and that cover is all you need!
  • You would like to see Buccellato’s coloring without Manapul’s work beneath it.
  • You want to see the Riddler pulling more of his shenanigans.

Overall:

Interesting and entertaining with an unexpected twist but lacking a sense of significance.

If this kind of story appeared elsewhere, I would probably give it a 6, but seeing as how I need to grade it for what it is and in the context it is presented, my score will be adjusted accordingly.

SCORE: 8/10