With DC's weekly series The New 52: Futures End nearing its two-month mark, readers have gotten plenty of information about this "potential," five-years-in-the-future DCU, but every answer comes with a load of new questions.
Co-written by Brian Azzarello, Keith Giffen, Dan Jurgens and Jeff Lemire, Futures End depicts what the DC universe might be like in five years. In the weekly's debut issue, Batman Beyond (Terry McGinnis) barely escaped Brother Eye's world domination in a dystopian future 35 years from now. At the end of the issue, Terry traveled back in time to five years in the future.
But DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio has made it clear that this is only a potential future of the DCU. Some things will happen, but some probably won't. "Ultimately, what you're going to see is the potential of where the futures can be going," DiDio said.
Yet the mysteries that are building in the series have ties to current and upcoming stories — particularly the October-launching weekly series Earth 2: World's End.
So what are the most pressing or biggest conundrums facing readers of Futures End? And what are the theories or upcoming stories that might answer some of those mysteries? Newsarama takes a look:
War Between Worlds
Mystery: In Futures End, Prime Earth (the name for the main earth in DC's multiverse) has recently experienced a war that involved another Earth.
Clues: From what readers have been told in Futures End (primarily during a speech by Animal Man), the forces of Apokolips chased the survivors of Earth 2 off their world to Prime Earth — presumably because Earth 2 is destroyed in the future. The two Earths unite to fight against Apokolips, but after the war, the differences between the two worlds threaten to divide their people.
The war most certainly damaged Prime Earth significantly, because we're told that Tim Drake was the "last Titan to die in the war" during the "Battle of Paris," when the city was "severely" bombed during fighting in Western Europe.
Eventually, the Earth 2 heroes/villains were imprisoned on Prime Earth, with many, if not all of them held on CADMUS Island.
Readers have also seen Parademons trapped in the Phantom Zone, and when they said "hail Darkseid," a character said they're a little too late for that — implying that Darkseid has been defeated, or possibly even killed.
Theory: We've taken a lot of stabs at guessing what causes the war, but we now know (thanks to the ending of Forever Evil) that the Anti-Monitor was the entity who destroyed Earth 3, and he has it out for Darkseid.
So it's likely that the Anti-Monitor is also involved in the destruction of Earth 2, and the war between Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor is part of it.
Where else it might show up: Earth 2: World's End, the weekly that launches in October, seems to depict at least the beginning of this conflict. The teaser released to hype the series appears to ask, will the heroes of Earth 2 be able to stop the destruction of their world by Apokolips?
Whatever the result of the weekly's story (when it wraps up in March 2015), we're betting that its conflict leads into a major event at DC in April 2015. With the month marking the 30th anniversary of DC's legendary Crisis on Infinite Earths — and with all of DC's weeklies wrapping up the month before — DC seems to be lining things up for another "Crisis" next year, maybe even some type of reboot.
The current stories in Futures End might be hinting at what we'll see in next year's expected event. As DiDio said to Newsarama, "[Earth 2: World's End] will have direct implications on what's happening with the five years later storyline, and you'll see a level of connectivity that I think will help really bring into focus where we see the future of the DCU heading."
What's Up with Mr. T?
Mystery: The Mister Terrific who's running around the five-years-later Futures End isn't much like the Michael Holt we've come to know — in fact, he's coming across as a complete jerk. What happened to change him — or is that even him?
Clues: Not only is he blamed for making Brother Eye into the monster it eventually becomes 35 years in the future, but his company, Terrifitech, is introducing high-tech, personal "uSpheres," which sound like they're kind of like hard drives for human thoughts — and that sounds a little too much like the precursors for mind control devices.
It's also important to notice that, currently, in the Earth 2 series, Michael Holt has traveled from Prime Earth to Earth 2. When he arrived there, he was attacked by Terry Sloan, (the name of the former Mister Terrific), a super-intelligent super-villain from Earth 2.
How did Michael escape from Earth 2 in the future and return to Prime Earth?
Theory: This Mr. Terrific is acting more like Sloan than Holt, so many people are theorizing that after the war, Sloan from Earth 2 has taken over Holt's body and identity on Prime Earth.
Then again, maybe Michael is just a jerk in the future.
Where else it might show up: Earth 2 and World's End, but in Futures End, Mr. Terrific's currently being targeted by Batman Beyond, as well as a trio of villains. So one or more of this crew will probably discover something important about Terrific's identity soon.
Who is the Masked Superman?
Mystery: There's a Superman in Futures End who's wearing a helmet that covers his face.
Clues: There haven't been many yet, but one thing the weekly has made clear is the masked Superman's interest in Lois Lane. He's protective of her in particular.
Theory: While we've seen theories popping up online that this is Val-Zod from Earth 2, who's currently in the process of becoming that Earth's new Superman, the hints about Masked Superman caring for Lois point toward this being Clark Kent.
Which Clark Kent? That remains to be seen, and there are certainly a lot of them running around DC's multiverse. The Prime Earth Superman might be scarred from the war and covering himself. Current Superboy Jon Lane Kent could have grown up and decided to fight on the side of good, protecting his mother from another Earth. Grant Morrison's Multiversity will be introducing a few Supermen, and maybe the Futures End writers figured out a way to include one of them.
Or it might even be Earth 2 Clark Kent, whose current rampage in the Earth 2 series might lead him to hide under a mask, if he survives what's coming to that world.
Or ... dare we even say it ... Ah, forget it. Oh, okay, what the hell...
...the post-Crisis/pre-New 52 Superman that was married to Lois?
Where else it might show up: If it's either Val-Zod or Earth 2 Clark, look for hints in the monthly Earth 2 series or the Earth 2: World's End weekly. If it's one of Morrison's creations, we'll be able to check that character out in Multiversity. But we're betting that the Masked Superman's story will be mostly told in upcoming issues of Futures End.
Mystery: Lois Lane is playing the part of investigative reporter, after someone has given her a box filled with clues. What do they mean? How do they connect? Why are they important?
Clues: Lois has discovered, thanks to one clue in the box, that Tim Drake isn't actually dead (as was reported during the war), but is alive and well in a bar called the "Wounded Duck."
It's also important to remember that Lois' detective work started with the death of Green Arrow, which seems to be connected.
At one point, Lois was being followed by King Faraday, who was speaking to a mystery person on his comm link. It seems that Faraday wants to know who left the mystery box at Lois' door, and what's inside it.
Theory: Because of the involvement of Faraday, who's not only involved with CADMUS Island but seems to also want Grifter to help him hunt down someone, this part of Futures End is probably linked to the alien-associated mystery on CADMUS Island (see below).
Because Superman tells Faraday that Lois is off-limits, it looks like the intrepid reporter will continue on her quest. But what does Tim Drake have to do with the mystery behind King Faraday? He seems completely disassociated with this stuff now. Could the source of the box have wanted Lois to team with Tim? (We're all for that — talk about detective power.)
Where else it might show up: Maybe the new Teen Titans, which is relaunching in July with Tim Drake on board? But we're betting this is the result of the "war," and the mystery (and its answers) will be contained only in Futures End.
Mystery: What is the secret behind CADMUS Island? Why can Grifter see all manner of aliens now? Why does King Faraday want Grifter's help, bringing him to CADMUS Island? And who in the heck is that cute little girl that calls herself Fifty Sue and rules over CADMUS Island with her amazing yet scary abilities?
Clues: Grifter, who can tell if humanoids on earth are from other places, has been recruited (under force) by King Faraday to help with something. Grifter is taken to CADMUS Island, where he meets Faraday's "assistant," a super-powerful and sassy little girl named Fifty Sue that makes it clear he has no choice but to join Faraday's team.
As noted above, Faraday seems to answer to someone, to whom he was talking on some sort of comm link during a scene where he was following Lois Lane.
Theory: We have no idea what's going on here, but we'll guess that Fifty Sue is a creation of humor-expert Keith Giffen. And we want more of her, please.
That said, maybe Fifty Sue is the child of Alexander Luthor and Superwoman from Earth 3? Or maybe she's Darkseid's daughter (teased in former issues of Justice League of America)? Or perhaps she's a New God?
And maybe the hunt for aliens and other-word beings is linked to the Constantine storyline that just started, which appears to involve Brainiac (since the crop circles appeared to form a Brainiac symbol). (That said, with the Constantine appearance, we're still wondering who "Tommy" and "Midge" are.)
Where else it might show up: This one might be seeded in Earth 2: World's End, but if our creator guess is right, we could see something in Giffen's other DC series, Infinity Man and the Forever People or Justice League 3000.
There are a few other mysteries threaded into Futures End — like who killed Green Arrow, who killed Stormwatch, and why is a dual-minded Firestorm such an annoying concept all of the sudden? — but so far, these are the ones that scream out to us for answers.
What are your theories? And where do you think the answers will show up next?