By: Daniel H. Wilson (story), Eddy Barrows (pencils), Eber Ferreira (inks), Pete Pantazis (colors)

The Story: The third-smartest man versus the two smartest men. See the problem?

The Review: I believe the common rationale for tie-ins is to expand and flesh out an already big storyline into one that truly feels all-encompassing. At my most cynical, I see tie-ins as obvious grabs for more cash. Having lived through many, many Big Events, I can tell you that the number of tie-in issues that actually added anything to their source plot is few; even fewer is the number of issues that had any effect on their respective titles. Tie-in stories are treated more like inconveniences than anything else.

That’s been the case for most of the Futures End titles so far, though I had more hope for Earth Two. Since the war and integration of the two Earths have been such an integral part of Futures End, you’d think this title would have more weight than others. Apparently not. The most puzzling thing about this issue is that its protagonist isn’t even a resident of Earth-2, and none of the major Earth-2 characters even feature in supporting roles.

The only person from Earth-2 who gets decent page-time is Sonia Sato of the World Army, hardly what you’d call a fan-favorite. She talks a good game about being active and independent (“I was the highest ranking female soldier in the World Army. I’m used to being underestimated. I’m also used to winning.”), but she ends up mostly as Michael Holt’s arm-candy—that is, when she’s not the target of Prime Earth’s xenophobia. Frankly, she receives the most discrimination from Wilson himself; why else would the most prominent Earth-2 character be so degraded?

I suppose you can argue that Michael is an honorary member of Earth-2, but even in this capacity, he disappoints. Unlike the cocky, confident button-pusher we’ve seen in Futures End proper, this Michael is gentler and less aggravating—which is by no means a bad thing, but a confusing change from what we’ve seen of him elsewhere. His intellect is also sadly outclassed by the two Terry Sloans, and at one point even Sonia admits they’re smarter than he is. In point of fact, it’s true; as the Sloans mention, Michael’s only advantage is access to a “Source” they don’t.

And that’s probably the most confusing part of this issue, one that Wilson makes no effort to clear up: [Spoiler alert!] Jimmy Olsen-2, apparently a mute paraplegic after his exodus to Prime Earth, who suddenly speaks in Michael’s presence and presents him with a Rubik’s cube (the symbol of Metron post-Final Crisis). Naturally, you’re wondering what exactly happened to poor Jimmy-2 and how he got his hands on such an artifact, but don’t wait for answers; there aren’t any.

Instead, we have a terribly superficial bit of commentary on the power of technology as manifested by the Boom Spheres, weapons capable of killing gods (again, no word on where they came from and how Michael got his hands on them). We also have the revelation that the person we knew as Sloan-2 is actually Sloan-unknown. It may be the only point of importance we can take away from this issue. Michael murmurs, “He once told me that he was going to save the world, at any cost. Now I’m wondering…which world did he mean?

Barrows’ work is fine, landing at the upper strata of DC’s house art. Admittedly, it’s not terribly distinctive nor inspired; he’s willing to fill a big panel with a close-up on Michael’s suspended cell phone service, but then squeeze a display of the T-Spheres military applications into a space so small that you can’t even see the frigging things. Still, his figures have good depth to them and the requisite amount of mainstream attractiveness, and Ferreira’s inks keep the lines looking strong and clean.

Conclusion: What should probably be a multiple-issue storyline is crammed into the span of one, and it’s as rushed and confusing as you’d expect.

Grade: C+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – “T-Spheres. Self-levitating troop support. Invisible to radard. Semi-autonomous. Streamlined to offer maximum troop survivability and assistance.”

“And worthless!” Really, Sloan? You just heard all the stuff it can do and you call it “worthless”? You truly are a Class-A douchebag, whichever Earth you come from.

– I’m looking forward to the day Lex Luthor and Sloan are in the same room. The insufferableness will be historic!



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