By: Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Keith Giffen (story), Dan Jurgens (story & art), Mark Irwin (finishes), Hi-Fi (colors)

The Story: How fitting that Frankenstein would be a technophobe.

The Review: With a title like this, featuring so many different characters, each preoccupied with their own problems, you have to wonder how they’ll all come together. Will it be like 52, in which each protagonist ran on separate but parallel lines, doing their part to save the world but without a common foe? Or will it be like Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers, in which the characters seemed to be on disparate paths, only for them to ultimately intersect to defeat the one true enemy?

Whichever turns out to be the case, for now we’ll have to accept that each issue is going to read like several different comics in one, with some better reading than others. I can tell you right off the bat that the Firestorm plotline fits into that “others” category, coming across much like an ongoing fight with your mother: annoyingly shrill and repetitive, bickering over the same points with no progress. It’s just Ronnie acting like a douche and Jason ineffectually berating him, ad nauseum. Unless something actually changes about this dynamic, you never want to revisit this odd couple again.

Those pages could have been devoted to exploring more of this period, though JLAG probably want to keep things under wraps for their own long-term purposes, dropping one enticing factoid at a time to keep things interesting. If you’re a parallel/alternate universe junkie like me, you’ll let yourself be strung along, too, even on the barest hints of information. Frankly, this issue does little to advance any of its plotlines, but then it reveals that all the Teen Titans have died except for Red Robin, who secretly survived whatever Earth-shaking conflict that killed the rest of his comrades, only to reappear as a bearded bartender in a dive called the Wounded Duck. That’s enough to keep you invested for the next issue, even if the rest of the issue is too expository to be very exciting.

Just like Batman Eternal, Futures End is slowly working on the foundations for each of its plotlines, which means a lot of talking. It doesn’t help that JLAG squander their few opportunities for action, like having Mr. Terrific review generic footage of Batman Beyond breaking into Terrifitech and getting repulsed by its defenses instead of, you know, actually showing us that stuff. And for what? An inconclusive exchange between Michael and partner Nathan about who the hell this new Batman is. Not exactly scintillating stuff, since you know very well who this new Batman is: the homeless-looking guy bumming money off Michael as he exits the building.

This series makes one smart move by advancing a couple ongoing storylines at the same time it introduces new ones, so you don’t feel as stalled as you do on Batman Eternal. Just as Frankenstein enters the picture, making first contact with the cyber-bugs we saw infesting everyone in #0, we catch up with Grifter and Lois, each of whom have clear missions though with uncertain goals. What’s become apparent is that everyone here is a detective, investigating mysteries on all levels of the DCU: Grifter and the extraterrestrial, Lois within the superhero community, Frank and the world’s shadow organizations, Terry and time. If nothing else, Futures End is a far-reaching title.

There’s not much to say about the art. Jurgens comes from the old school of comics and it shows in every plainspoken page. His illustrations are sensible, palatable, but lacking in personality. The problem with his art is that it does look like the kind of stuff one can easily draw on a weekly basis, simply because so little thought and detail have to go into it, apparently.

Conclusion: Not a very productive issue, but an interesting one, anyway. It can all stand to have a little more craft, quite honestly.

Grade: C+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Also, five years later, if Superman and Wonder Woman haven’t had a kid yet, is it really going to happen?

– Between this issue and Action Comics #30, there’s been a lot of polar bear killing in DC comics lately. Hope this isn’t the start of some bizarre trend.