The iconic moment of The New 52: Futures End arrives in issue #35.  Three Batmen come together in astonishment.  Terry McGinnis, Batman Beyond, has been sent from the future to prevent the activation of Brother Eye, the tyrant AI that has destroyed the future.  Bat Joker, the fusion of Bruce Wayne and his nemesis crafted by Brother Eye in that future, has traveled back in time to stop Terry.  And the present Bruce Wayne arrives just in time to discover that his world is far stranger than even he imagined.

Each of the current weeklies produced by D.C. explores a theme. Batman Eternal looks at the relationships among Batman, his allies, and the city of Gotham. Earth 2: World’s End examines the death of a planet. The New 52: Futures End has what, on paper at least, seems the most interesting story of all, the meeting of possibilities.  The three heroes coming together is the archetypal example of that.  Bruce Wayne, the present hero whose future is not yet determined, comes face-to-face with a version of himself who represents the realization of nightmares he did not even know he had.  Meanwhile Terry McGinnis, fresh in the throws of a new love, represents the possibility of either hope or tragedy.

In another storyline, Tim Drake reappears as the bearer of possibilities from an older world.  He is a hero who had, to an extent, forgotten that he was a hero.  The events of the tale have reawakened his knowledge of his own identity.  But to what purpose, and to what end?  And even as Tim enters the narrative, his girlfriend, Madison Payne, explores the possibilities of her own new identity as Firestorms.

Frankenstein lies poised on the edge separating magic and science.  Wounded badly in struggle with Father Time, he is comatose as his magical essence struggles with the super-science of the Nth metal with which he has been dosed.  Even as this happens another magical/scientific being, the godling Fifty Sue, explores the possibilities of her deepest desire, to have parents.

Given the nature of the plotline contained in The New 52: Futures End, it is imperative that the story finish strongly.  Ironically, it must finish strong to destroy itself.  The future depicted in this series is one that can never come to be, and will never come to be.  The inevitable convolutions that go into undoing that future, and that hinted at in the sister weekly, Earth 2: World’s End, will require a massive forward inertia to traverse.

Luckily, the authors of the series seem aware of this.  In The New 52: Futures End we see the tale gathering speed like a ship slowly accelerating.  If this change in velocity continues smoothly, then the end will be impressive indeed.  But whether that is the case is a possibility yet to be realized.

Grade

B+

Conclusion

When the three Batmen come together, the final act of the saga begins. They are the harbingers of multiple ends: the end of the world, the end of the future, the end of innocent and guilty life, and the end of the story. Whether that end is memorable or disappointing, this issue is the gateway that opens onto the final approach.