The first four months of Future’s End proved to be one hell of a ride. Though the title occasional faltered here and there, it was still a great, epic story that unfolded in a time five years in the future from the present timeline. Some of the things that I liked about this series was that it gave a lot of underdeveloped and underutilized heroes like Grifter, Deathstroke, Firestorm and many others a chance to shine. With all the different writers working on this, sometimes the stories could be a mess of different plotlines, but they were nevertheless quite entertaining and the artwork was almost always similarly impressive.
The fifth month (going by four issues equaling a month) sees a lot of revelations happening. For one, we finally learn what the deal with Superman in Future’s End is. Second, we revisit the ending of a previous issue in which Bruce Wayne of the future was captured by Brother Eye and Joker was brought in to experiment on him. These four issues contain some of my favourite moments in the series, though some of the things happening on Cadmus Island are beginning to give me a headache, and I’m still waiting for a lot more of the plot threads to be given their time to shine again.
Cadmus Island has been the center around which everything else in this series revolves. We learned previously that in the bowels of the island, Mr. Faraday and Deathstroke were keeping the wonders of Earth 2 locked up, most probably on the orders of the government. Heroes and villains alike of Earth 2 were incarcerated in this place, which is both a prison and a genetics lab. In that respect, the horrifying nature of the story was in full effect, and the writers certainly did not shy away from the general bleakness of the series.
It all took a turn for the worse when Brother Eye gained a foothold on the island and brought the Earth 2 wonders under its control. Now there’s a power struggle going on on the island, and the reason I say that I am getting a headache is because I really don’t get what the deal with Fifty Sue is. Who is she? What is she doing on Cadmus Island? What exactly is her role there? She has a very relaxed and flippant attitude about everything and her reactions seem to border on the insane more often than not.
But, then there are scenes like Power Girl doing a big number on Deathstroke in Future’s End #19 or the powerplay between Brother Eye and Faraday in Future’s End #20 and things seem to be not so bad after all.
The best part in either of these four issues however is learning what has happened to Superman [Spoilers follow]. Following the end of the war with Earth 2, Superman disappeared from public life. Like many other heroes, it seems that he was forced to do things that he never wanted to or couldn’t prevent either. Knowing that Superman has always been a symbol of hope, an icon, a genuine force for good, the current League decides that replacing him as the only option they have, and so, in steps Shazam as the new Superman. He changes his outfit and begins to wear a mask so the world can never know, and he does exactly what Superman did all those years ago.
This comes into play in these issues in a really big way, partly because Lois Lane finds out the truth, and given her profession, it isn’t a stretch of imagination to foretell what happens next. That kind of rubbed me the wrong way, truth be told, because I thought that Lois was better than that, but I suppose that she too has been changed by the war.
Another way this becomes a major plotline is because she also knows the truth about Tim Drake, that he didn’t die with all the other Teen Titans during the war, but that he survived and gave up the hero business, too traumatized what he had seen. One thing that made me really sad in this plot thread was Tim’s heartfelt confession about why he stopped being Red Robin and a Teen Titan. That was one of the most emotionally poignant moment in any of these four issues. What made me sadder however was learning that one member of the team was confirmed to be dead, like dead dead. We’ve been told to this point that the Teen Titans all died during the war, but getting the confirmation from Tim himself somehow finalizes it, takes the romance of possible escapes away. My heart goes out to the Teen Titans.
But then again, that’s not all that happens here, because we also finally get to see Terry McGinnis’ raid into Terrifitech. The plan mostly goes off without a hitch, but then things change when Plastique comes face-to-face with her futuristic doppelganger, inadvertently brought back in time by Terry when he made his own jump. The final scene between Terry and Plastique was kind of confusing, same as Plastique has been so confusing in the series, but her solo scenes were definitely something and you get to peek behind the curtains and see her for what she is, that’s powerful.
Aside from all that however, the truly big kick comes in the form of the middle pages of Future’s End #20, where we revisit the future and see what happened to Bruce after he was captured by Brother Eye’s forces and after the Joker was brought in to… experiment on him. It isn’t pretty and continues the grimdarkbleakness of the series. And compounding everything is the fact that we learn something about the origins of Brother Eye, and you really get a shock when you read those pages. Damn man, things just got crazy in a damn big way and there’s no going back from any of this.
The art teams are as follows: Patrick Zircher, Hi-Fi and Carlos M. Mangual on Future’s End #17, Georges Jeanty replacing Patrick for Future’s End #18 with Dexter Vines and Karl Story doing the inks and Taylor Esposito replacing Carlos, Scot Eaton replacing Georges with Drew Geraci and Dan Green replacing Dexter and Karl for Future’s End #19, and finally, Aaron Lopresti replacing Scot and Art Thibert replacing both Drew and Dan. As usual, Ryan Sook does all the covers, and each cover is magnificent, amongst the finest that the series has shown so far.
As far as the internal art is concerned, I have no qualms about it, no negatives to offer. I loved every moment of the art on all four issues. There were some things here and there where a character’s expression or body-language might be a bit inconsistent with the rest, but such occurrences were far too few in number to really register for me.
All I can say is, great job, team!