Ray Fawkes makes a good effort to make the reader feel as if they are still reading a Batman and Robin title even though it’s Futures End month. Unlike other events where it’s a crapshoot as to what story you’ll find behind the cover of your favorite series, events in Batman and Robin‘s pages reflect themes in previous issues.
Heretic, or someone presumed to be Heretic, is in a showdown with Batman. When I say “Batman,” I mean Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns meets Jim Lee’s Hush Batman. Dustin Nguyen draws a terrific Batman in my opinion. I’m only familiar with his Lil Gotham artwork, but I really enjoy these pencils. Just a thought though: this is five years in the future yet Bruce looks likes he’s aged twenty-five. I guess if I fought in a war and lived every evening on the streets of Gotham fighting crime I’d look aged as well. Back to the story. Heretic and Batman are fighting it out. Bruce is taking some hard punches. Alfred is worried he’s taking three too many hits.
Oh, did I forget something? Yes, I thought about putting it in spoiler tags, but can you really call it a spoiler if it’s on the first page of the comic? Don’t continue reading if you don’t wanna know. Holy crap! Five years in the future and Batman has a new Robin!?! Yeah that means Damia…no, no. This isn’t some sort of trick? It is not. Duke from Zero Year is now Robin. It is not clearly stated what Damian’s position is (revived, dead, or whatever) but clearly it is still unpleasant for everyone.
While Batman is fighting Heretic, Alfred is having this new Robin go all across town taking care of other crimes. Batman doesn’t want Robin near Heretic for fear that Heretic will make a repeat performance and kill Robin. Unfortunately for Batman, he isn’t doing so hot himself. Alfred wants to send Robin to the rescue, but Alfred keeps him in relative safety fighting thugs due to Bat’s orders.
The problem…I just want to let my shoulders drop and sigh…the problem with Futures End month is that no matter how earth-shattering the story, there are no real ramifications. If this had been a story set in “now” time, it’d be big news. But it’s not. It’s interesting to not see Damian. It’s interesting to see Batman needing Robin. It’s interesting to see Alfred with that big ole facial hair (goatee? beard?), but if the story doesn’t offer something solely within itself as a standalone one-shot with no need for big reveals, it is not very pleasurable for me. This issue isn’t bad. It doesn’t simply stand on the shoulders of “ohh new Robin” which would be a big disappointment. It does show some change. Alfred loves Bruce. Bruce needs Robin. Heretic makes good BBQ. What more could you want?
- You want to see some terrific Dustin Nguyen pencils.
- You want to be able to discuss with your pals the significance of the opening page.
- You don’t mind opening up your comics to see that double-page advertisement for Gotham (I can’t wait).
As Futures End tie-ins go, this one’s above average. It has great artwork, some fun “whoa” moments, a sprinkle of heart, and a staple of tradition. It isn’t monumental but it should provide you and your friends with some good talking points going into the rest of Futures End as well as Batman and Robin, and what more could you ask for? I say thumbs up.