As we kick off week two of Futures End month, we have ten more titles that jump five years into the future. There are lost pre-52 characters making their first substantial appearances, hints at deaths to come, and some significant status quo changes for some old standbys.
So once again, we combed every issue out today, the second week of the special event, for any relevant clues, big surprises, and other spoilerific moments.
SPOILERS ON from here on out. You have been warned!
Batgirl: Oh what a glorious moment it is. There’s Stephanie Brown Batgirl. There’s Cassandra Cain Batgirl (finally). There’s even the youngest member of the Fox family, Tiffany, as a young Batgirl in training. Oh, and Barbara Gordon? She’s the fearsome Bete Noire, trained by all of Batman’s greatest villains, including Bane. Of course, that’s all a ton of fun, but we’re looking for significance and hints. Well, in Gail Simone’s final issue with Batgirl, she has Barbara getting married in just two years’ time. The fact that Cassandra Cain is in fact alive and well in the New 52 DCU is a big deal, too. We wouldn’t hold our breaths waiting for Tiff to join the crusade in Gotham (she’s only 7 in current continuity, after all), but Cassandra is now fair game. Thanks for that farewell present, Gail.
Birds of Prey: The issue starts three years in the future, showing that Black Canary has taken over the League of Assassins and morphed them into the "Red" League, which is entirely made up of women rescued from human trafficking. Eventually, we fast forward to five years in the future, where the Red League's mission against Paul Howe III requires them to confront Bete Noire, who is actually Barbara Gordon (see Batgirl: Futures End for that story). The two work together temporarily, but at the end of the issue, Barbara goes off solo, while Dinah continues her leadership of the new, all-female Red League.
Batman: At first glance a surprisingly inconsequential one-shot, given how much of the universe seems to circle around Batman right now. There are very few reference or hints as to what happens in the interim five years. We do see that Batman’s body is failing, and he uses a mixture of an exo-skeleton and drugs to get by. He’s attempting to clone himself, and thanks to a stolen component from Lex Luthor (who is apparently no longer his Justice League Ally), he does succeed at the end, saying, “Gotham must always have Batman.” Other than that, there are tidbits: Luthor is cloning Superman again, Bruce and Alfred both look way more than five years older (though that could just be artist interpretation), and there is a panel full of Bat-allies: what looks like Batwing’s armor, Red Hood’s helmet, Black Canary, Batwoman, Dick (or someone) in the Nightwing outfit, an unidentified darkskinned female, Strix the Talon, an unidentified young male (is that Damian? Is it another new Robin? Is that Lark?), Stephanie in Batgirl costume, Barbara as Bete, Tim (or someone) as Red Robin, and Bluebird next to, again, a glowing-chested Batwing. Intrigue, but not much in the way of concrete info.
Superboy: As expected, Superboy is now part of a group that include Gen 13 characters. In the future, Kon-El is dealing with a virus and a cyborg clones problem (where last week’s theme was technology, it seems this week is clones and identity), and by his side are Guardian, Freefall (with whom he has a relationship), and Rose Wilson. He mentions the Titans of the past, and Catilin Fairchild. But still unanswered are the questions: Will we see the team promised in the epilogue Superboy #33? And will it be in a new Gen 13 title?
Worlds’ Finest: This seems like the most directly tied to the main Futures End weekly series yet. Power Girl (Karen Starr) is infiltrating Cadmus Island, trying to break Helena out of the holding cells there. She implies that Earth 2 is in fact gone, that everyone who didn’t escape to Prime Earth died, and that she’s been avoiding Cadmus for the last few years in-between. She does spot Tanya Spears, the girl she left the Power Girl name (and maybe powers) to, working on Cadmus Island. They’re both captured, and put in a cell with Huntress – you can bet we’ll see more of them in the pages of Futures End. Oh, and Fifty Sue, the little girl tagging along with Deathstroke, unleashed her full power and easily dispatches both erstwhile Power Girls, so she’s even stronger than we may have thought before.
Constantine: Constantine vs. Nabu for the Helmet of Fate – but the thing is, Johnny boy doesn’t want it. Instead, he’s winning it for a slightly less harmful carrier, and to keep its power under some indirect control. Of course, the helmet of Fate is from Earth 2, so that’s one big moment right there. Khalid Ben-Hassin, the Earth-2 wearer of the helmet is confirmed dead in this story, and Constantine was at a pivotal moment during the War of Worlds and helpless to stop it.
Green Lantern Corps: John Stewart is a vicious, merciless killer. He is still working as a member of the GLC, but has “racked up more kills than anyone in the corps,” and “even destroyed Mogo with a single bullet.” Oa has been restored, back in sector zero, but it’s not currently the homeworld of the GLs. Stewart appears to lead an independent and largely covert team, a black ops or wetworks unit of the GLC now. The Shadow Empire has control of Oa, and a second shapeshifting Durlan is on the side of the angels. The Indigo Tribe “did something” to the other Corps. He fights her and kills her, and becomes the newest Indigo-1; but perhaps more interestingly (and more story potential for Futures End), his green ring goes off to seek a new replacement in 2814. Basically, it looks like John has a nasty few years ahead of him.
New Suicide Squad: The Suicide Squad members are in the rebuilt, underground Belle Reve Penitentiary, but after Amanda Waller lost control of the Squad in the past, the government experimented on Squad members. Deadshot has one arm, Harley's pumped up on Venom, and Manta's brain-damaged. Waller breaks them out of prison, and they go on one last mission to stop the government from cloning villains (there’s clones again!). Although Deadshot dies at the end of the issue, the Squad succeeds in this final mission.
Infinity Man and the Forever People: The most interesting mention for DC fans comes when Mark wakes up something called the "Cadmus Singularity," which was created as a neutral territory "after the Second Lantern War" (is that what John Stewart and Indigo-1 were talking about?). The Singularity is the "only place where New Genesis and Apokolips can coexist." That's all fun stuff, but the rest of the issue simply reveals that after Aagog was resurrected, the team was apparently all destroyed, and Infinity Man was defeated by OMAC. However, in an endless hopeful loop, Dreamer keeps using her power to bring Mark back to life in the Singularity, but he keeps opting to leave.
Justice League United: Lots of Futures End goodies in this issue, which isn't surprising (since Jeff Lemire also co-writes the weekly). The title's young superhero Equinox is the focus, but five years in the future, she's working solo because the Justice League United has split up. We find out that Animal Man has retired to honor his wife, Ellen’s wishes. And Martian Manhunter is the warden of a prison planet on Mars — where the Justice League has shipped the world's worst villains, including Despero, Mongul and Gorilla Grodd. The issue's action starts when J'onn contacts Equinox telepathically to tell her all the prisoners have escaped from the Mars stronghold. After an alarmed Equinox enlists the help of the five-years-later Justice League (including from-the-future Legion of Super-Heroes member Dawnstar), they discover on Mars that the escape is being spearheaded by none other than… surprise! It's Captain Atom, "the worst killer the universe has ever known," and the story will continue in the Justice League one-shot.