Sometimes, you have simply to abide by common sense, even when common sense advises you to accept the impossible.  It’s the principle that makes you wonder why the original Scooby Doo gang denies the existence of ghosts and monsters when they are traveling with a talking Great Dane.  Such a moment arises in The New 52: Futures End #43 when Tim Drake, deep in conversation with Plastique and her erstwhile companions, Key and Coil, expresses grave doubts as to the physics and psychology of time travel.  The narrative purpose is to introduce tension by casting aspersions on Plastique’s new love, Terry McGinnis, AKA Batman Beyond.  However, the effect for anyone familiar with Tim Drake’s history in the New 52 is the mental equivalent of a double take.  We have been told definitively that this is Tim Drake of the Teen Titans.  Indeed, the death of the Titans seems to have provided a main impetus for his break with Batman (a narrative point that has never been explained).  But the Titans were hurled into the future in the course of the Forever Evil event, only to find their way back in the pages of Scott Lobdell’s Teen Titans.  Either this story has been ruled out of continuity or Tim Drake has experienced severe brain damage at some point in the past five years of story time.

That is truly a pity, as the conversation is filled with clever puns and double-entendres, including one on the name of Dick Grayson, Tim’s former Bat Family compatriot.  Nor does the intended tension even have long to develop, as the group is almost immediately attacked by Plastique-Cyborg from the Brother Eye future.  That fight has its own interesting features, as the cyborg assesses whether to use lethal force against each individual based on whether such would alter the timeline, finding herself (itself?) stymied when faced with Plastique.  If the cyborg kills Plastique, then a classic time paradox will arise, since if Plastique dies the cyborg will not exist, but if the cyborg does not exist Plastique will not die.  Luckily, the universe is saved from such convolutions by the intervention of Terry McGinnis himself.

The rest of the issue is, unfortunately, bland and confusing.  Braniac, separated from his orbiting avatar, takes manual control of the floating New York, while Superman determines to make another effort to stop the theft.  Meanwhile Batman and Mr. Terrific have a cryptic conversation that muddles more than it reveals, and we evidently now have two or possibly three versions of Brother Eye inhabiting various points in the city’s information architecture.

Grade

C

Conclusion

This issue is a morass of confusion mixed with moments of amusing clarity. The interesting and well-thought-out reflections on time travel cannot overcome the muddle of continuity and the opacity of plot. Andy MacDonald's art, with blurred details, fragile lines, and overwhelming shadows, contributes to the general lack of focus. It is as if everyone involved in the project momentarily let it slip from their grasp. Considering that we only have five issues to go, they had best re-assert their grip, and quickly.