This is the year when DC tries something different in the New 52: weekly comic book series. From what I’ve heard, the publisher used to do such comics at some point before the 2011 reboot, but since then, nothing has been done. That changed last month with Batman: Eternal and now this week with Free Comic Book Day the publisher launched its second weekly series that deals with another part of its universe and this one brings in Batman of the Future, Terry McGinnis, for some out-of-time adventures. I didn’t care for the title before the FCBD issue, but since then I’ve grown an interest.
Both the FCBD issue, which was numbered #0 and this week’s #1 issue tell a very focused tale about what Future’s End is really about. A race of robotic aliens have, at some point in the future, taken over the world and turned much of the superhero community over to their side, either through enforced coercion or otherwise. Now, to change this future, an aged Bruce Wayne sends his protege back in time to prevent this horror. Except, things don’t work out. This is another multi-creative team collaboration title and the results are…interesting, to say the least.
One thing you should know about this title, going in, is that this is unrelentingly grim, much more so than the first issue of Batman: Eternal. In Future’s End, multiple heroes either die in the most gruesome of ways, or are converted into the arachnoid monstrosities you there on the cover. The future portrayed in that #0 issue is rather horrific indeed, when you see what has happened to all these great superheroes. Chilling even. And perhaps that’s the charm of the whole thing. It is weird that DC would use its FCBD slot to promote an event as dark as this rather than going for something much more upbeat and general, but I have to say that the whole thing has turned out better than expected.
Future’s End #0 is an extremely fast-paced story as a few choice POV characters run the gauntlet of the villains, culminating in an even grimmer climax that sees Terry go back in time to prevent it all happening in the first place. But, things don’t turn out as expected and instead of the specific moment that he wanted to, Terry ends up five years after that point. And so, essentially, Future’s End primarily takes place five years from the present timeline, which is post-Forever Evil. Future’s End #1 continues on from where the zero issue leaves off and it features Terry as he tries to make sense of what time he has ended up in, and also a seemingly side-plot where the Firestorm of the future is called up on Justice League business and upon reaching the site of incident he finds only despair.
The characterisation of Terry seems to be on-point here, although its been ages since I’ve been in the Batman Beyond-verse, so I can’t really be sure, but the Terry here felt like the Terry I know. And then we have the Firestorm duo, who are also characterised well, but since I barely know them, I can’t be sure about their… consistency. What I’m trying to say is that I loved these characters, and I’m definitely interested in finding out more.
But that’s not all of course. With Terry out of time from when he wanted to appear, things are quite different and the threat that destroys the DC-verse’s future is making its presence felt, starting with an attack on the Stormwatch team of superheroes, who often act as Earth’s early-warning system. What happens is really not pretty.
What I can’t get over is how much death and destruction there is in this series. We are just coming off from Forever Evil, which saw the deaths of many heroes and villains, and we are going straight into another such event, albeit one set in the future. There’s a certain dissonance here that I’m not sure has bee thought all the way through, but I suppose that time will tell what is going to happen. And this is a weekly series so we are going to be seeing some answers soon.
The artwork in these two issues is by a lot of different artists. Neither of these two issues make it clear which creative teams have worked on them, unlike Batman: Eternal which does, so it is hard to say. But, looking up the general credits list, three of my favourite artists, Aaron Lopresti, Ethan Van Sciver and Patrick Zircher are the mainliners here, with Jesús Meriño added in as well. So in the pencilling department this series is in really good hands, and I do like the artwork here, so the series has that going for it. Hi-Fi, Art Thibert, Dan Green, Mark Irwin, Dezi Sienty and Carlos M. Mangual round it up as the colourists, inkers and letterers, so taken together, this is a pretty solid art team, and that shows in both these issues. I don’t really have any complaints as far as the art is concerned, because I liked what I saw.
For surpassing my expectations and maintaining my interest through two issues, this series definitely has my thumbs-up, and I’ll be tuning in next week for sure.