DC Comics has long played host to multiple worlds, but there's another multiple people don't talk about as much: multiple futures.
With the new weekly series beginning with a Free Comic Book Day special the first weekend of May, Futures End, DC is jumping their New 52 Universe five years into the future. After a heretofore unnamed event, things change drastically in the DC Universe, and it's up to heroes new and old, including Frankenstein (monster type), Firestorm, and Batman Beyond (amongst, reportedly, about twenty more) to pick up the pieces.
The four-writer brain trust of Jeff Lemire, Keith Giffen, Brian Azzarello, and Dan Jurgens has only just begun talking about the series, but Newsarama couldn't help but notice something: despite a natural inclination, if you hear it out loud, to give this title a possessive apostrophe ("Future's End"), there is none in the listed title. After DC Comics confirmed the title is plural, not possessive, to Newsarama (but couldn't comment on why just yet), it got us thinking: what could that really mean?
Chuckle if you will, but punctuation has already played a role in New 52 titles. The current Worlds' Finest, meaning the finest heroes of multiple worlds (in this case Power Girl and the Huntress from Earth 2) is a play on World's Finest, the long-time DC title that teamed up the finest heroes - Superman and Batman - from one world.
So far, in the New 52 alone, we've seen the Legion of Super-Heroes future, which was implied to belong to Earth 2, the Justice League 3000 future, the era that Bart Allen (or - Bar Tor) is from, the era of Jon Kent, son of Clark and Lois, who is now masquarading as Superboy (who was in fact his clone)... and most of that was just in the last six months. There have also been glimpses of the future offered up by various other titles, and of course the current Batman Beyond universe in DC Digital. If you open things up to the old DC Universe, the amount of possible futures becomes staggering.
So what does "Futures End" - plural, not possessive - imply? Well, the events of this series could very well have an effect on all of them. We're not dealing with problems with a single possible future, but quite possibly with time itself.
And this may well bring us all back to that moment in Justice League International Annual #1 when Booster Gold traveled through time to warn "our" Booster about something happening with Superman and Wonder Woman. As each Booster saw the pair kiss, they faded away into non-existence. The elder Booster also mentioned time traveler Rip Hunter, further noting its possible significance. We should note, some Booster Gold showed up in the past, fighting alongside Jonah Hex in All Star Western, but he didn't know entirely where/when he was from, and was lost to the timestream once more after their adventure.
But there's one more thing that may make JLI Annual #1 the single most important issue in relation to Futures End, and that's the major role Brother Eye, the sentient satellite, plays in both. In the issue, Brother Eye, talking through OMAC, says "But Eye do not need to know the future. Eye AM the Future." A mysterious, still unidentified third party he only says is his "new programmer" says, "No, Brother Eye. I am." So we have a villain, tied directly to Brother Eye who is seen having a huge presence on the first cover art for Futures End, identifying himself as the future. We have the actual, literal five years forward future. And of course, we have all the time between "now" and "five years later," which to the heroes of the current DCU, is all future as well. Futures End.
That whole storyline was originally promised "to be continued in Justice League in 2013!" but aside from the Superman/Wonder Woman premise, we haven't seen any follow-up involving Booster Gold or Brother Eye. Indeed, the Justice League was out of commission for the latter half of the year, embroiled in a battle with their counterparts on JLA, JL Dark, and eventually, the Crime Syndicate from Earth 3. It very well could be that the follow-up storyline is this weekly, having been held back once it grew larger than DC initially had planned.
Lastly, while it was DC executives Geoff Johns and Dan DiDio who co-wrote that annual (again alluding to its importance in the future of the DCU), the people most associated with Booster Gold and the JLI? Dan Jurgens and Keith Giffen, half the writing team of the new weekly.
Whatever Futures End winds up meaning for the DC Universe, or how connected it is to past storylines, it's clear that there's more to the title than at first glance.