The New 52: Futures End, in a rather strange way, is the most believable of all the current weeklies published by DC Comics. Where Batman Eternal creates enormous problems of continuity and characterization by taking itself so seriously, and where Earth 2: World’s End is simply a fragmented mess, Futures End shows us people under stress making very, very bad decisions. True, the stress is induced by bizarre crises involving time travel, hostile aliens, murderous A.I.s, and interdimensional invasions. But of all the incredibly long list of things that lead people to make bad decisions, stress is the most common, and likely the easiest to understand.
In this installment, Bruce Wayne and Mr. Terrific, behaving in a very short-sighted way for two supposedly intelligent men, start down the road that will, evidently, lead to the reactivation of the Brother Eye satellite and the inevitable slide toward the horrific future thirty years hence. To call them unsympathetic would be a rather severe understatement. In modern political terms, they seem to epitomize a particularly feckless and clueless segment of the one percent.
It is easier to sympathize with Plastique and Terry McGinnis as they wrestle with future Batman’s instructions to avoid his present self, or with Jason Rusch and Madison Payne as the struggle with their newly-entangled identity. Likewise the pain and anger of the godling Fifty Sue as she confronts the loss of her paternal figure, Slade Wilson, and the homicidal wrath of Dr. Yamikaze are familiar to anyone who has loved someone and lost them.
Meanwhile, Cole Cash takes a step that is not so much mistaken as fraught with hilarity. In the face of his multiple problems with Cadmus, the Daemonites, and the authorities, Cole decides the time has come to establish a stable identity by marrying Lana Lang. He does so under the ruse that he is actually a refugee from Earth 2 looking for an easy answer to an immigration problem. The logic actually works if you think about it, but luckily you really don’t have to for the sake of the story. Finally, Frankenstein and friends return from their space adventures to find Father Time and SHADE waiting to claim the prize they hold – Angie, the Engineer of the former Stormwatch.
It is all mildly interesting in the way that treading in warm water is interesting. That is to say, it’s somewhat pleasant but doesn’t get you anywhere fast. The art by Scot Eaton and Scott Hanna, with colors by HI-FI, is in the quasi-Jim Lee house style of the Futures End series. That is to say it is pretty and functional, but neither memorable nor particularly powerful.
The word that comes to mind is average. The story is average. The art is average. The movement of the plot is somewhat less than average. This issue winds up some loose ends effectively and teases the main plot, but really in the end accomplishes only a small amount. For this late in the series, that is simply not good enough.