For quite some time now, I have suspected that parts of The New 52: Futures End are nothing but a game of bait-and-switch.  We are now at issue forty-five of a forty-eight issue series, and several of the disparate storylines show little signs of cohering.  In fact, many of the plotlines are obviously less about the outcome of this series than laying foundations for further stories.  In and of itself, that is not illegitimate.  However, it is frustrating that so much time has been spent on plots that do not contribute to the final conclusion of a nearly year-long mystery.

The story of Princess Amethyst is the best example.  It turns out that the detour to Castle Frankenstein, indeed most of the Frankenstein arc, was simply setting her in a new status-quo, a status in which she is determined to recover her world lost to the forces of Apokalips.  That is a worthy goal, to be sure.  It is a worthy premise for a series of magic and adventure.  But how will the story ever be told, given that we are in a five-year future that will almost assuredly be wiped away?  And was there not a more effective way to introduce this new epic?

The plotline involving Terry McGinnis, or if you will Batman Beyond, is more integrated into the main storyline of the series, but with the latest set of announcements and solicits it also is revealed to be the opening moves of another game.  We know that some Batman Beyond, whether McGinnis or another character, will journey to the thirty-five year future, there to have a set of adventures in what is being advertised as THE definitive future for the DCU.  Leaving aside that no one can ever believe that the future of the DCU is fixed, especially thirty-five years of story time in advance, that indicates that even the heart of Futures End had less to do with telling a compelling story than with serving DC’s strategic publication plan.

In the face of all of this transparent maneuvering, the revelation that Brother Eye has expanded into the information grid and is acting independently of his creators carries little interest.  This being comics, and the fact of the new Batman Beyond being revealed, we know that Brother Eye will be defeated, and defeated very quickly now.  Like it’s companion weeklies, Futures End has suffered severe problems with pacing.  The ostensible main story has been delayed and ignored for weeks at a time.  Now that it is almost too late, a solution will appear that might well have been reached long ago.  But then, that would not have allowed time for the setups that seem to have been the purpose of this series all along.

Grade

B-

Conclusion

The great mystery of this series was always what, exactly, it was trying to do. That may well have evolved over time. After all, the story has not matched the teaser image put out so long ago. Booster Gold, for instance, has made no appearance in the main story, nor has any Robin figure. For all of that, however, the answer to the mystery has been revealed. This book was about other books, about introducing characters and concepts to further DC's vision of its next universe. That is not precisely a dirty trick, but it is a disappointing one. The futures of some new stories have begun, but the future that has ended is any future for this particular tale.