By: Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Keith Giffen, Dan Jurgens (story), Scot Eaton (pencils), Drew Geraci (inks), Hi-Fi (colors)

The Story: Superman demonstrates how not to listen to other people’s problems.

The Review: Last week, I gave this series an ultimatum: give me something, anything, that can be considered even remotely compelling—by which I mean it seizes your interest instead of weakly grasping for it—or else I drop it for good. I don’t think that’s too harsh a demand, considering the money I’m putting in. At about twelve bucks a month, I figure it’s worth exchanging a merely decent title for three or four better ones, or an extra meal or two at In ‘n’ Out—whichever.

Let’s cut to the chase. This issue doesn’t do it. Like its predecessors, it has some merit, but it mostly fails to convince you that there’s must-read material in here. Must-skim-for-anything-noteworthy is more like it. This is no doubt in part due to the series’ uncertain continuity. How much of this is going to end up as canon? I’m not sure the answer matters. If none of it has any permanent impact on the DCU, then you obviously have no reason to care. But if any of it gets integrated into the DCU, we have a much grimmer world to look forward to, and that’s not terrific either.

But aside from these metafictional concerns, Futures End is fundamentally flawed in its near absence of character work. A huge part of 52‘s success came from how much it made you care for its decidedly B and C-list cast, and much of that had to do with the series’ clear emotional drive. It was easy to understand and sympathize with Ralph Dibny’s longing for his murdered wife, the Question grappling with his own death, Natasha Steel forging her own heroic identity, Black Adam finding a new family, etc. The characters of Futures End have decidedly more abstract, plot-driven objectives that do little to get you to relate with them in any way.

Would you believe that of all the players involved in this issue, the one that comes closest to having a fully-formed motivation is the only one we don’t actually know? Dr. Yamakaze’s obsession with creating a functioning teleportation system comes from a simple place—the loss of a loved one who had no access to such lifesaving technology—but at least it comes from somewhere meaningful, which is more than can be said for virtually everyone else. They do what they do seemingly because they have nothing else to do.

And what they do is mostly talk. Lord, how they ramble on, and often with little purpose or personality. So much effort is spent trying to get the plot out that the action stalls and chemistry naturally goes out the window. Admittedly, there are a few interesting morsels to chew on, if you’re desperate for some food for thought: the callous nature of the masked Superman, the missing bodies of Apollo and Engineer among the Stormwatch dead, a mysterious techno-creature emerging from a temple in Southeast Asia, etc. But at most, it inspires a vague sense of curiosity, not deep investment

I won’t lie to you; the thoroughly banal quality of art on this series has also been a significant minus. In a ways, it’s remarkable how visually consistent each issue has been despite the roulette of artists from week to week, but in this case, consistency has resulted in uniformly forgettable art. Eaton, like many of his peers before him, has a pleasant enough style, but it’s plainly and painfully limited, incapable of depicting the process of teleportation and sucking the drama even out of Ray slicing an arm off Hawkman’s cold cadaver.

Conclusion: As always, you’re left wondering if the issue is worth its cover price. For my part, it’s not. Dropped.

Grade: C+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Given the disappointing results from Batman Eternal and Futures End, I’m now a bit apprehensive about the upcoming World’s End.

– So we’re all agreed: Jason is just everyone’s bitch now, right?

– The extent of Lois’ journalistic skill in this issue is her telling other people to looking into things for her. She’s definitely coasting.