I like issues like these. It’s one story the whole way through. No major scene changes. It’s four main characters featured throughout the entire comic. Jason Rusch, Ronnie Raymond, Madion Payne, and Tim Drake. No Grifter. No Frankenstein. No Fifty Sue (for you haters…I have my moments). No pigs in a blanket or whatever that English duo was called.* It is just one story. I realize the writers couldn’t do this all the time or else we’d forget about the other nine storylines happening, but dang, it’s sure is refreshing. Like a cold glass of sweet tea on the back porch in summer: it doesn’t matter it’s a little hot, you’re just glad to be there.

Essentially this is the backstory that leads up to what we see on that Ryan Sook cover. I mean, one could look at that cover and find almost all the plot points necessary to skip the issue entirely, but what fun would that be? There will be no spoiler alerts for anyone here. Okay, maybe just this one. But don’t click it if you haven’t read it. It’s the only thing you don’t already know from looking at the cover.

Spoiler
Ronnie dies. Yep. He goes out of his way to save Madison and dies. It’s sort of like he atones for his lack of going out of the way to “save” Green Arrow, so I guess that part is cool, but as far as a plot point, I don’t see his death as something amazingly meaningful. Firestorm still exists. No one is crazy affected that I can tell. I mean, Tim, who finds him, laments Ronnie’s death but it’s in a way that he’s really just hating to relive all the destruction he fought hard to escape.

Cadmus is guarding Yamazake’s lab as Tim and Ronnie approach. They fight their way through and daggum I’m glad to see Tim fight. He doesn’t give up either, which is awesome. Much of this comic is filled with fighting violence. Ronnie learns that Tim knows who he is and learns who Tim is as well. As they fight their way to the lab, only Ronnie gets in but only after Jason (he was headed for the lab last issue) gets in and walloped in the back of the head with a wrench by the crazy mad scientist. Ronnie sees Jason laid out on the floor and jumps to save Madison from the transporter tube. Just like clockwork, or magic, or a writers necessity, Jason wakes up and runs toward Ronnie so they can become Firestorm and save the coming destruction because, you know, this place is ’bout to blow. Jason, reaching through a translucent Ronnie, grabs Madison and the machine blows apart.

What are the results? See the cover at the top of the page if you are unsure. Still unsure? I have an uncle in Kenya who is a king and needs someone’s social security card to transfer millions of dollars…jk.** The rest of the comic can be found in the spoiler tags about two paragraphs up. Now, here’s a bulleted list of random thoughts:

  • My favorite artist for Futures End is hands down Patrick Zircher. He excelled in this issue. Do you agree?
  • The page with normal clothed Tim and Ronnie with Red Robin and Firestorm in the background was awesome.
  • Madison is trapped in a giant tube and about to be experimented upon. She knows she might die. She desperately wants out. Jason enters the room to stop the test. “Oh thank God!” She’s probably thinking. Yamazake then refers to Jason as Firestorm and it’s as if Madison forgot the situation she is in to think about the irony of having known two superheroes in disguise. It’s comical. “You called him Firestorm?” She says to Yamazake while she’s supposed to be fearing for her life, trapped inside this glass tube in a weirdo science lab. Yamazake and Jason speak back and forth about the experiment, Jason’s supposed sabotage-ery, and his ties to the Justice League. Yamazake whacks Jason in the back of the head leaving him unconscious. Yamazake’s about to start the test that could end her life and Madison utters, “You say… Jason is Firestorm? My God. Is there anyone in my whole life who has been honest with me?” I busted out laughing. Crazy. Maybe she’s in…shock?
  • I’m glad it’s Jason/Madison as Firestorm than Ronnie/Madison. Ronnie would have posed problems with Tim and I’m not emotionally prepared for soap opera style jealousy about Ronnie being inside Tim’s ex-girlfriend.
  •  The two-page spread with the new Firestorm looked amazing. Except for the word bubble, “OH, MY GAWWWDDDDD!” I did actually laugh at this. She’s excited about flying now, so I get it. It may be that I’m from Alabama and my reading of it was as southern as you can get, but dang, it was more funny than anything for me. Go ahead. Picture the most southern redneck you know screaming that. You’d laugh too.

Banger and Mash.
** Simply my initials. I’m not joking.

Recommended if:

  • You’d like to read the backstory to the cover.
  • You don’t like skip-hopping around. This is one story.
  • You want to see Tim fight.

Overall:

How can you complain when you get a full story cover-to-cover in this series? It’s a testament to the path this series has taken, that it can pile layer upon layer of background stories and come out with such a straightforward issue and the reader leave feeling satisfied. I enjoyed it.

SCORE: 7/10