If you are like me, seeing our very own Dark Knight on the cover of Futures End makes you excited. Here’s a series that’s included several characters I’ve known very little about, so to see Batman on the cover, I was stoked. The truth, however, is that Futures End has its steady agenda in mind; it doesn’t get hyped up in the middle of the race and run out of steam. No, it knows it has weeks upon weeks to build the story. Today’s issue simply introduces the five years in the future Bruce Wayne, and with not a ton of fanfare. Other things are going on to be sure, but the lack of big Bruce action (that we all know is coming) was a let-down for me. Otherwise, it’s a decent Futures End weekly title.
- New York City — Coil and Key are working for Mr. Terrific now. Coil looks like he’s got on his Halloween girlie eyelashes with glasses on while Key appears to have died and is now in rigor mortis. Bruce and Mr. Terrific chat. Mr. Terrific wants to meet with Bruce but Bruce isn’t available at the moment. They will meet later. It’s interesting seeing Bruce drop his playboy facade for just one panel with Mr. Terrific. Knowing that Mr. Terrific is pissed with Bruce for supposedly attempting to steal the uSphere but eventually will have tremendous respect for him (we know from flash-forwards to 35 years in the future) is interesting. I look forward to that relationship dynamic unfolding.
- Columbia University — Dr. Yamazake knows that Jason is Firestorm. Perhaps he doesn’t know that he’s only half of Firestorm, but only that he’s involved. The doctor is mad, I tell you. Not mad enough to tell everyone his identity, which the rational side of my brain says is bogus. If I hate the Justice League and I learn one of their secret identities, I’m gonna put that info on blast. Yamazake doesn’t. He bans Jason from his lab, accusing him of deliberately sabotaging his experiments. What’s unfortunate (I believe for Yamazake) is that Madison comes by the lab looking for Jason and the doctor detains her for human experimentation. I say it’s bad for Yamazake because not only will he have Tim to contend with, but he’ll have Jason (who’s angry at him) as well as Ronnie (who likes Madison) who will Firestorm his ass to evil scientist prison.
- No Indication of Location — Really. I know by the characters where we are, but consistency sucks when it comes to these scene changes. Let’s either do it, or don’t. Seeing as how we flip between roughly five different settings in these few pages, location notation is needed. Here we have Terry and Plastique discussing their hackneyed plan to change the future while showing a red Obi-Wan Kenobi-style hologram of Tim Drake out of his shoulder. Their plan is to talk to Tim about doing something because in Terry’s future, Tim is dead. Alfred verifies this. But… Tim is in hiding. Lois didn’t release his identity. As far as the world is concerned, Tim died during the war. So, why would they believe he actually died in the future just because Tim was never assimilated with Brother Eye or no DNA record is found of him? He could still be operating in that further future as far as they are concerned, just not caught.
This wouldn’t be such a problem except that the whole reason they choose Tim to work with is because “If [they] contact anyone who exists in the future, it compromises the future.” I know, I shouldn’t dwell on it. It’s time travel in a comic book. Changing the past, yet being the past. Yeah, yeah, whatever. I just kinda wish they’d explained it differently. See, not only do they try not to impact the future wrongly by being careful who they talk to, they negate the very point they are making to begin with. When asked if talking to Tim is what gets him killed, Terry replies, “Then that’s what happened. Already. So I’m actually doing what I’m supposed to do.” It’s talking out of both sides of the mouth. Following this logic, there is absolutely no way to change the future and all his attempts are and will forever be moot. He was always going to meet Plastique and talk to Terry and Brother Eye was going to take over. But we know that is not what can/will/should happen, otherwise the ending is spoiled and Bruce’s face will wind up attached to a Batwing suit on the opposite side of the Joker.
- Cadmus Eyeland — No, it does not say “Eyeland” but with Brother Eye saying things like “Eye am capable” it felt appropriate. There is a lot of interesting ramble between Fifty Sue and Brother Eye that will mean something if you are going to continue this series. For the Cliff’s Notes bunch, Fifty Sue is crazy powerful. Slade is working with Brother Eye and this disappoints Fifty Sue. Grifter and Lana talk too. I’m not sure about what, but Lana has a secret she’s hiding that Grifter knows about.
- New York City — You know that sweet Sook cover that got me excited? Yeah, that scene plays out here. Minor note, the time on the cover is 2:25ish whereas the one in this section is 11:55. Jason and Ronnie both respond to a text to meet (did they not see the callback number? so they just show up anyway expecting to not be shocked?) and they run into one another. Batman arranged a meeting to tell them two things: 1) Green Arrow isn’t dead. 2) Kiss and make up. This was Batman’s big entrance in Futures End. I’d rather him be here than not, but it just felt like a let-down as a Batman fan. I guess it’s cool that Batman knows stuff that others don’t, but no… no excuses, I un-objectively did not like it.
- You simply just want to see Batman.
- You’ve been waiting for an incomplete and unsatisfactory discussion of the perils of time travel.
- Friends making up and breaking apart compels you.
As a build-up issue, it fares well. We’ve read so many boring issues that were meant to prepare the story for a later payoff that this one seems almost upward trending despite its lack of out-and-out action. My own hype about seeing Batman’s appearance let me down a little (okay a lot) but on the whole, it’s a pretty above average leading-up-to-the-action-at-a-later-time issue. It gets an overall thumbs up in my book.