FUTURES END #1
Written by Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Dan Jurgens and Keith Giffen
Art by Patrick Zircher
I won’t lie to you, this book’s got me confused.
It starts in the semi-distant future of the time of Batman Beyond, a world that has been taken over by the latest iteration of Brother Eye, a sentient satellite/robot/thingy, which has taken over the world in Terminator-esque fashion. In an attempt to Fix What has Gone Wrong, Batman Beyond/Terry McGinnis comes back in time to kill someone, a person not specifically named as of yet, but since in this story, they maintain that now it’s Mr. Terrific who built Brother Eye, one might be able to guess he is the target.
The thing is, Terry has not gone back in time far enough. He landed fives years in our future, a time where Michael Holt has already created Brother Eye and is in the process of introducing its technology into society. Terry says they’re seven years too late, but he landed five years in the current DCU’s future, which means he should have landed about two years in its past, relative to our present, which would be a little bit before the narrative of the New 52 even started…
Timeline worries notwithstanding, another big problem here is that we’ve already seen Brother Eye in the New 52, in the pages of Dan Didio and Keith Giffen’s OMAC, and he had no connection to Mr. Terrific at all. At the same time the Mister Terrific book was going (and I was enjoying it) and there was no mention of any Brother Eye technology at all. Indeed, when they ended the book, they tied it into the coming Earth 2 title instead. If one wanted to go there, one would have to assume that this book spoils to some degree the events in the aforementioned Earth 2, wherein Michael is currently in somewhat dire straits.
I must assume it will be explained, but we’re once again in a position where DC seems to be reversing itself on the storylines of a new universe that’s not yet even three years old. This appears to be the third version of Brother Eye in only five years, and the fourth in total. In the previous iteration of the DCU, Brother Eye was created by Batman as a fail-safe system to take down his fellow heroes should the need ever arise. The system gets out of hand…
and they have to take it down, a goal at which they only partly succeeded, as various OMACs kept popping up in various places.
In the New 52, Brother Eye is back in control of a single OMAC, in the person of one Kevin Kho. After the brief (but enjoyable) run of his title, he popped up in various titles, most recently the Suicide Squad, mere weeks ago during the events of Forever Evil.
(And this is all over and above the original OMAC series created by jack Kirby during his brief but creative period that he was at DC, a period that also brought us The New Gods, another stable of heroes too good for DC to not keep using.)
So I’ve no idea how these stories from the current DCU will be tied to the new facts presented in this first issue of the weekly book (which got a tease last weekend as part of Free Comic Book Day.
The story as presented has some obvious parallels to The Terminator, but older DC fans will also recall the MaxiMegaCrossover Armageddon 2001, where a hero of our time chooses to take control of the world, forcing a person to come back to the past, discover which her is was, and stop them.
The book suffers from a weakness not of the story, but the premise itself. Taking place five years in the future of the DCU, it can be safely assumed that the events of the story will never come to pass, so we’re effectively reading a just short of a year-long(more on that in a moment) “imaginary story” that will have no impact or connection to the ongoing narrative of the regular titles. Such stories are lots of fun to read in graphic novel or other one-shot format, but 40-odd issues at three or four bucks each? Not so sure. I mean, Trinity was entertaining, and Countdown…a bit less so, but both ended up being very expensive stand-alone stories, and they got a lot of people quite annoyed as a result.
They’ve certainly started the death toll quickly, with one major DC down already, and one super-team which was getting positive press for apparently getting a major spot in the book…suddenly not. But again, since the book takes place in a nebulous future that will almost certainly never take place, there’s no sense of loss at all. I expect we’ll hear neither hue nor cry at these, or any deaths in the book, as even the most casual reader will suss the fact that they Won’t Really Count.
There’s another weekly starting in October that will connect with Futures End in some way. I think it takes place in the present in the DCU, which, if so, would still be later than when the string of events supposedly started. How they’ll connect, or if it will be a story you could enjoy on its own, we shall have to see.
But here’s the thing – Dan Didio has already let slip that all three weeklies (the third being Batman Eternal, which is quite good so far) will not all be a year long, as the past weeklies have been, but will all be ending in March of 2015. This certainly gives the impression that something will be coming in April of 2015, which only happens to be the 30th anniversary of Crisis on Infinite Earths.
So DC has effectively gotten people to already half-discount the current story, making it seem like it’s nothing more than a prologue to Whatever’s Coming Next. It’s the exact same mistake they made with Trinity War and Forever Evil. They sold Trinity War as a Big Event, but as soon as news (and the solicitations) for Forever Evil came out, interest in Trinity War all but ceased as people assumed that FE was the real Big Event. It’s a process they’ve been using since Infinite Crisis, but now that people are hip to the move, interest in the current book drops as soon as news (or even just rumors) of the next Event come to light. Forever Evil has ended, though the last issue of the book has been delayed over a month, resulting in several books coming out that take place after the ending. And largely, save for Dick Grayson, not a heap of a lot seems to have changed. Lots of rebuilding, some strained relations between folks who knew Grayson, but pretty much it seems to be back to first position.
Mixed into the coming months is also Grant Morrison’s next mini Multiversity, which also deals with other worlds of the DCU, and will (assuming it doesn’t get delayed, because how could that ever happen on a Grant Morrison book?) will also be ending next Spring.
So DC has certainly done a good job of getting people interested in next April. Problem is, there’s a whole Gorram year between now and then, a year full of books that DC needs to keep people interested in. If people start to get a whiff of a Clever Theory that DC plans to pull another massive change to their books, we may end up with a year-long lame-duck session, with people dropping books they presume (correctly or no) are going to go away, which will only serve to make that more likely a possibility.
In short, DC needs to make its books exciting and engrossing right now, and not dangle a carrot into the future and ask us to trust them. Sorry but fool me…lessee, carry the four…
Let’s just say I hope we’ll all be here come next April.