The New 52: Futures End #1
Written by Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Dan Jurgens, Keith Giffen
Art by Patrick Zircher
Lettering by Dezi Sienty
Published by DC Comics
Review by Richard Gray
'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10
Although Forever Evil is still left unfinished for the moment, even if the “Aftermath” books have started to hit the shelves, DC has wasted no time in launching straight into the next stage in their annual game-changing series of events. Futures End actually kicked off last week in the Free Comic Book Day release, throwing us all the way forward to a DCU 35 years in the future. It brought Batman Beyond straight into the New 52, or at least a version of it that is set five years from "now," and has yet again given the company’s characters a new sandbox to play in.
If the premise behind The New 52: Futures End seems vaguely familiar, in that a future dominated by robotic overlord can only be solved by misguided time travel, it’s probably because we really only saw it in June last year with Marvel’s Age of Ultron. Yet the battalion of top-tier scribes quickly puts this seemingly derivative set-up to one side, introducing a mish-mash of elements that will ultimately play out over the course of the next year’s worth of weekly issues. Batman Beyond and the Stormwatch crew are quickly established as featured heroes, along with the all-star team of discontinued players Grifter, Firestorm and Frankenstein.
The deliberately disjointed plot is designed to keep readers discombobulated and asking all the right questions, but mostly, "why is this the new status quo?" Yet by leading with a group of characters not popular enough to sustain their own titles, The New 52: Futures End is missing the key hook of us being given new information about characters we’ve grown to care about. Marvel’s 2013 flagship notwithstanding, DC have mirrored their own history with elements of the 2006 event “One Year Later” and its weekly series 52. Yet that immediately had a puzzling jump at its core, one that slowly filled us in on the gaps, something we won’t get to see until September’s motion-cover month. Here, with the exception of a conveniently dramatic ending involving Green Arrow/Oliver Queen, not to mention a unique use of Black Canary’s cry (in the zero issue), it’s just images on a page.
Those images come courtesy of Patrick Zircher, who is seemingly given the opportunity to go fast and loose with the DCU. However, in this initial issue, everything is being played safe. It’s all close-ups and static panels, with none of the promise of the slightly futuristic world briefly glimpsed in the Free Comic Book Day issue. Perhaps as the months progress, and the artists change up slightly, some more dynamic art will be seen.
The New 52: Futures End gives DC another slate to wipe down and go to town on, less than three years after they did just that with the entire line. It’s a fun gimmick, but with the next 11 months planned out, it also ultimately reveals the folly of this event. The New 52, at its very foundations, was designed to give the DC Universe a new lease on life, completely unfettered from the constraints of continuity and providing new readers fresh stories with familiar heroes. Yet here is an event that might ostensibly give all the characters a whole new world to inhabit, but seems to rely on knowledge that only existing readers can provide.