Mix DC’s most popular character, Batman, with fan-favorite Terry McGinnis (aka “Batman Beyond”), and add in some time-travel, a potential futuristic “What If?” story, a robotic invasion, and a concept where character death might actually mean something, and you’re bound to get something that’s at least interesting.
And that’s what we get with Futures End #1, the second of DC’s planned three weekly comics: interesting. This series gives DC the opportunity to shake things up, and while it might seem a bit gimmicky, there are so many moments in this book (and its predecessor, the free “0” issue that came out last Saturday for Free Comic Book Day, which you should snap up before you read this issue) that make the reading experience, despite the dark tone, a fun one, full of surprises and shocks.
This weekly series is also an opportunity to highlight some characters who no longer have their own solo books, such as Grifter and Firestorm, not to mention a team of outer-space guardians who encounter something unexpected while on patrol. While on an individual basis these characters might not have had the sales or story potential to carry their own titles, when put into the context of this event series that goes across the entire staple of DC’s titles and affects all of the New 52 universe, it works.
On art duties, Patrick Zircher turns in a strong effort. In particular, the scenes with Grifter were some of the best in this issue, with some creative compositions and panel layouts. Zircher also knows how to use his art choices to convey a message rather than having it spelled out through obsessive narration or even through a scene that directly illustrates what’s happening. As an example, in one scene Grifter is dealing with some aliens inside a house. Toward the end of the scene, there’s one alien left facing down Grifter. In the next page, there is simply a shot of the outside of the house in the dark, and then in the following panel, light bursts from the window, with the implication that Grifter’s gun has fired. It’s very simple and could easily be overlooked, but that’s part of the power of the comic medium. That kind of scene can’t be conveyed with that much energy, emotion, and suspense in a book of prose.
However, given the changing line-up of artists who will be illustrating Futures End over the coming weeks, the real reason to read this story is not truly the art, nor should it be simply because you want to “keep up” on DC’s latest big event for 2014. Rather, the reason to read this is because, with its futuristic “Elseworlds” type premise, this is an opportunity for DC to tell some stories that take characters we are familiar with and put them in situations where we don’t normally see them. What’s going to happen when future Terry McGinnis inevitably interacts with present-day Bruce Wayne? How do things get so bad in the future that some of the most powerful characters in the DC Universe have been turned into mindless cyborg killing machines (as seen on the cover of the free Futures End zero issue, which again I highly recommend you pick up – it’s what actually sold me on wanting to read this series)? What are the circumstances behind Firestorm retiring? What is the “war” and how does that cause Oliver Queen to recruit Firestorm into the Justice League?
While on its own, Futures End #1 might not necessarily be strong enough to entice someone to commit to a weekly series, when taken in context with the action-packed and dynamic Futures End #0 issue, the series creates enough tension, mystery, and questions about the future that will pull you in with a desire to learn how things turn out. If one boils it down to its very basic premise, that’s really the primary goal of most forms of entertainment. On that basic level, Futures End has succeeded so far.