By: Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Dan Jurgens, Keith Giffen (story), Jésus Merino (pencils), Dan Green (inks), Hi-Fi (colors)

The Story: If there’s such a thing as a mourning arrow, now’s the time to use it.

The Review: In the superhero genre, where no one ever truly dies unless he’s completely inconsequential (in which case no one cares anyway), it takes a lot of extra effort to tap into genuine emotion upon a character’s death, and it’s damn near impossible if the death is only hypothetical. So let’s face it: except for the people within Futures End, not one person is going to shed a tear at the possibly-five-years-from-now funeral of Green Arrow.

Animal Man’s eulogy is thus more for the sake of exposition than catharsis, and there’s not even really too much of that. Besides a rather obvious plug for Justice League United, Buddy mentions how “Apokolips chased the survivors of another Earth to our own,” and how “Ollie united us” (“Two Worlds—One Humanity”), which would be a much bigger deal if we actually got to see it. But even stated after the fact, this merging of worlds is a tantalizing detail of the future DCU.

Ollie’s funeral also conveniently gathers a bunch of heroes together, not only for us to see who’s still around, but how they might have changed in five years. The differences, perhaps unsurprisingly, are minimal. There are some new faces in the crowd (a big lion-dude, a man wearing a red eye-mask and a U.S. flag as a cape),* and a few characters sport new outfits (Aquaman’s fancier duds; Superman, or someone who looks like Superman, and his tinted helmet), but by and large, everyone looks none the worse for wear.

If nothing else, the death of Ollie opens the door to several plotlines, some more interesting than others. Given the near universal penetration of Terrifitech in this world (nearly every computer has a glowing “T” emblem by design, a la Apple’s apple), and its suggested connection to Brother Eye, the material involving Mr. Terrific is probably the stuff to watch. His newfound cockiness and narcissism isn’t attractive, but it’s forceful, which may be an improvement on his formerly vanilla personality.

In contrast to Terrific’s radical character changes, Lois is much the same as she ever was, the intrepid reporter, involved in superhero affairs while somehow remaining on the fringes. But here the balance skews a bit as she wades deeper into their world, though not on her own initiative. Although she senses something amiss with Ollie’s death, the story really just kind of plops into her lap: a package bearing an inscrutable note with a red arrow-tip. I’m always glad to see the ordinary citizenry involved alongside the capes, but I prefer them to do so by their own will than by chance or fate.

By far the most unpleasant and almost worthless part of the issue is Ronnie’s meltdown (not literally, fortunately) when confronted by Arsenal over his failure to assist Ollie on time. As if Jason’s shrewish scoldings weren’t annoying enough, Arsenal and the Flash’s lectures are purely redundant, rehashing Ronnie’s screw-up for the umpteenth time. Not that he doesn’t deserve it, refusing to acknowledge his responsibility (“Oliver died because half the waterfront blew up. Not because of me.”), then trying to deflect blame (“[Y]ou’re spying on me?“). Any pity you might muster on the vague reference to “everything I lost” is overshadowed by your disgust when he decides to trap Jason in the Firestorm Matrix so he can keep up with his lie. In response to Jason’s demand to be freed, Ronnie retorts, “So you can throw me under the bus? Not now. Not ever.”

Merino’s skewed paneling aside, he doesn’t take many chances where the storytelling’s involved, and his art is competent, but unsubtle and unremarkable. In terms of drama, Merino’s skill goes only as far as frowny faces, gritted teeth, clenched fists, and pointed fingers, making for a very old-fashioned, soap opera-like issue. Hi-Fi’s bright, shiny colors enliven the visuals somewhat, but overall, this is pleasant, not outstanding, art.

Conclusion: Some interesting, if shallow, information comes to light and even if nothing’s hitting you very strongly now, at least there’s a lot going on.

Grade: B-

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: * If anyone can identify those two characters, that’d be much appreciated.

– Lois mentions that “Perry used to say…” Used to? I’d hate to think that means he’s dead.

– I’m pretty stoked about King Faraday’s reintroduction to the DCU. Golden Age characters for the win, even if they’re sort of useless in a world of superpowers.