This week begins the second new weekly series from DC, Futures End. Technically, we are not discussing #1 since it got its own review, but we’ll still take a look at the very first issue of the series from Free Comic Book Day so we can get our discussion on it rolling. We are looking at Batman Eternal #5 and Futures End #0. Let’s commence!
WARNING: Spoilers below!
Batman Eternal #5 (DC Comics)
Lead Writer: James Tynion IV
Corresponding Writers: Scott Snyder, John Layman, Ray Fawkes, and Tim Seeley
Artist: Andy Clarke
While Batman is busy handing the ever-increasing and building threats caused from the Gang War, Red Robin investigates something that Batman has missed in all the chaos that has been going on: a lot of the kids from the Professor Pyg attack are still hospitalized with some unknown disease and Tim is on the case! Meanwhile, Vicki Vale is fed up with the fact that the Gotham Gazette is not doing any real investigative work or writing any articles of substance anymore, just doing crap articles that low level reporters like Joey are writing. Spurned by an old time writer of the Gazette, Warren Spacey (who did articles on the Joker and Deacon Blackfire), Vicki takes Joey to the streets to investigate the ongoing gang war taking place.
So what is causing these diseases and why is it affecting all kinds of kids from the Philip Kane Memorial Projects (aka the Narrows)? Nanobots unlike any ever seen before!
Harper Row, still working her best at being a superhero, saves Vicki and Joey from getting attacked during their investigative reporting, explaining to them that they are severely in over their heads. Still, Vicki manages to get her information after using one Harper’s Tasers on a thug and makes top headlines.
Red Robin is nearly killed during his nanobot investigation when the mechanical bugs try to swarm out of one of the kids when they tried wirelessly hacking into them. He manages to get control of them and stop the mechanical bugs. However, it also turns out that Harper’s brother, Cullen, was also infected and in the course of stopping the bugs, falls unconscious.
So, who created these dang Nanobots anyways? Why, it was Sergei, one of Bruce’s mentors that trained him in the ways of gadgets and how to use them to create wonders (you saw him last in Batman #22). According to him, they were activated earlier than he expected.
Have you been enjoying the Gordon storyline and been excited about seeing where that’s going with all of the Bat-Family or are you curious about the cliffhanger left with Stephanie Brown’s fate last issue? Sorry! Not the focus of this issue as it is more about establishing other storylines with Tim, Vicki Vale, and Harper Row and going for a more fantastical element in areas. This may leave you disappointed if you were wanting to see follow ups on all of that other stuff, but what we do get here remains interesting (I’m more than curious about why this “virus” happened in the first place).
The writing is still pretty sharp and engaging, with some great characterization and moments for everyone (Tim is back to normal folks, so get excited). The only exception may be Vicki who acts a bit stupid at points in the issue, but that’s it. Good pacing and structure, along with solid dialogue helps keep the strength of writing up. The artwork is where I’m mixed on because I personally cannot stand Clarke’s style with his odd and creepy looking characters (they should never ever smile) and his overuse of crosshatching. Admittedly though, his work here is better than usual and fans of his style will certainly enjoy it, but it’s still not for me personally.
When I want a story, I want a fucking story, bro.
Futures End #0 (DC Comics)
Lead Writer: Brian Azzarello
Corresponding Writers: Jeff Lemire, Dan Jurgens, and Keith Giffen
Artists: Ethan Van Sciver, Patrick Zircher, and others
35 years from whatever year it is currently in the DC Universe, all hell has broken loose. Brother Eye has taken over and has been turning super powered beings and heroes/villains into robot/borgs to enslave humanity. Most of the heroes have fallen and the world looks doomed, but an aging old Batman has an idea: to send Terry McGinnis, Batman Beyond, back into the past to stop everything from happening by killing a certain someone. Unfortunately, Terry missed the target date and the chaos that’ll happen is already in play, just five years from now.
In Times Square once Terry arrives in the five-years-later time period, many different advertisements can be seen that can clue us in on what has been going on:
- Cadmus and S.T.A.R. Labs are now public companies.
- Lois Lane has become rather famous with something called The Fast Lane.
- Mister Terrific has started his own company after returning from Earth 2 called Terrifi-Tech.
- Apparently, there is now alien racism due to something called the Earth Registration Authority where people must show their “Earth” cards to prove who they are.
- Most interesting though is an advertisement for a reunion tour, a benefit for veterans of E2, possibly suggesting something to do with a war and Earth 2.
This freebie comic has been gaining quite a bit of attention and not the positive kind from all over the Internet. The utter darkness and brutality of it is already immediately turning people off and it quite obvious to see why with some of the images we see in it. That being said, the strangest thing about the comic is that thematically, it is not extremely depressing or cynical. There is an air of hope to it that no matter what, the good guys will try their best to fix things even in the bleakest of times. I mean, sure, one look at the imagery here and one could easily say this is dark for darkness’ sake, but it’s not completely and that’s what gives it an extra boost. Plus, in terms of bleakness and violence, this is barely a touch over what we have seen with Blackest Night and Rotworld.
The other thing to keep in mind is that the series is not going to be like this all of the time. It certainly sounds like it’ll be a dark, but also rather thrilling story. But ignoring all the complaints from most people who judged solely without reading it themselves, the writing is perfectly fine. The character stuff, especially the scenes with the Batmans, is very good. The artwork has several of the different artists from the series working on the issue (doesn’t make the book look completely consistent, but it’s nice to get a preview of their styles). The comic also makes a very memorable impression on the reader if you couldn’t tell and it should make people curious enough to read or see where the comic goes.
Sums it all up, doesn’t it?