Futures End is really surprising me. There’s been a ton of build-up leading toward both the Brother Eye and Brainiac story lines, and this issue offers an interesting clash between these two “big bads”. The temporary resolve of the Brainiac threat is both interesting and a slight let-down, though if there’s one thing I’ve learned from reading this series week in and week out, I know how to be unrealistically hopeful or positive through things I don’t understand or even like. Let’s take a quick dive into what exactly this issue brings to the table.
- Bruce and Mister Terrific Come up with a Plan – We’ve seen these two geniuses marvel, fear, snark, and stare mournfully into computer screens quite a bit recently, and it’s kind of boring. Thankfully, a plan is concocted to take down Brainiac. Despite the fact that Bruce just broods in his cape and cowl, their plan is pretty neat, if not just a little bit of a let-down.
- Superman: If He Can’t Save Us, We’re Screwed – An issue or two ago, Superman threw one punch and was easily smacked down by Brainiac. The writers raise the stakes in this issue by telling us repeatedly how awful everything is in the words of average citizens, heroes, and others. I really don’t care for that tactic. Just look at a sample of how the writers try and build up how awful everything is:Lois: “How can [Brainiac] be stopped?” Again, “My God. If Superman can’t save us…who will?”
Superman: “I don’t know how much longer I can keep this together!” And another, “Unless I can come up with something fast–the city has no chance!”
Firestorm: “As crazy as the invasion got five years ago, we didn’t see anything like this, Jason!”
Terrific: “Superman is buying us time–but he seems nearly spent himself!” Another time, “We’ll be lucky to pull this off at all!”
Pilot: “Guys, I hate to tell you this–but I think the city is comin’ down!” Again, “New York city is going down and there’s nothing we can do to stop it!”
Military Guy: “…is this the end of us all?”
Justice Leaguer: “This is more than we can handle!”It’s just overkill. It’s like when you’re six-years-old and your grandfather buys you some lame gift for your birthday, like a shoe-shine kit or a gift card to Denny’s or something, and your mom realizes it and tries to play up the shoe shine kit. “Ohhh honey, look how shiny you can make your Sunday shoes! You know how much you like shiny shoes!” It just seems like a bunch of cheap, fluffy talk to make the reader feel like the threat matters.
- Brother Eye > Brainiac? – This was the stand-out point of this comic for me. The fact that Brainiac was “defeated” by mobilizing Terrific’s uSpheres using the power of Brother Eye was a neat cross-over of the story lines (we’ve been wondering what would happen) but it also seemed a little bit of a raw deal. I mean, all this hype about Superman saving the day by taking Brainiac down, and we’re left with his contribution consisting of a couple punches and essentially “buying time” so the Atom could save the day feels like it short sells Superman’s power or importance. Plus, all that talk about how Superman is the only one who can save the world and it doesn’t really happen. I mean, he does carry the city to safety, but he’s not the victor I feel he should be. I do like the Atom’s character growth from the beginning of the series until now. He does “become something else” like it was suggested he do when he was inducted as the leader of Stormwatch.
- Where’s Everyone Else At? – You guys remember Green Arrow’s Army, Grifter, Fifty Sue, Banger and Mash, Frankenstein and Amethyst, Constantine, all the Earth Two heroes, or Justin to name a few? I know the focus is necessarily zeroed in on New York, but I don’t want those stories to go to waste. They touch base on JokerBats, Tim and Terry, but it’s really insignificant. My only takeaway from the other Bat-characters is this: How the hell does JokerBats work? Bruce tells some kid to get out of the street because it isn’t safe, yet he can’t make his shared hand not shoot people? I don’t get it.
- Art – If Patrick Zircher drew the page you’re looking at in this issue, then you’ll enjoy it. Andy MacDonald does better than much of his other work in Futures End, really stepping it up to fill in here. The two-page spread of Superman punching Brainiac was indeed epic.
- You even have a passing curiosity about the title, this is necessary reading.
- You’re picking up these last remaining issues to acclimate to what Convergence is going to bring.
It’s a must-read. It’s mostly very well drawn, inked and colored. The writing could be a little less amateur, and it provides a halfway satisfying crossover of story lines.