I was warned, but I didn’t listen. I thought, “Let’s give this series a chance. It’s not too bad,” only to be kicked in the balls at the end of the journey. Let’s get into this.
Future’s End has some really good story threads and moments. At times, I really wanted to love it, but instead I just liked it until the end came and made almost the entire series completely meaningless.
For anybody stopping by who hasn’t read the series, it’s essentially an alternate future where refugees from one Earth under the control of Darkside escape to the Earth of another dimension only to be followed to this new dimension by Darkside’s forces. A giant war takes place between the heroes of the second Earth and the forces of Darkside and the day is saved, but untold millions have died and there are now all these extra people on Earth. The story starts five years after the war as various heroes face new, growing, interconnected threats.
I love the covers for this series. Kudos to Ryan Sook for some truly well crafted cover designs.
I also enjoy the premise of the series. I love seeing dystopian versions of traditional characters. It’s a fun way to reimagine a world and go wild with little consequence.
If you ignore the first eighteen issues, the maxiseries had great pacing. I was always eager to see the next story beat, return to another group of character or witness the next plot twist. I have no idea why they took so long to get going, but once it started rolling, I found it quite engaging. Unlike 52, I found that they returned to all the groups of characters frequently enough that I never lost the story threads.
There were some occasional confusing moments where I couldn’t figure out what had happened. I guess this is an art issue. For instance, the moment one character dies in a hail of bullet fire, it appears as if the bullets have been blocked and yet he dies with bullet holes in his costume a couple pages later, so…I guess they hit. There’s also what I assume is a running joke where one character would say something and another character would give them an awkward look with no dialogue and everything would pause as if for a comedic beat, and I didn’t even understand what the joke was supposed to be in any of these moments.
I went through these comics in a mostly brain off sort of way, but I felt like if I’d thought about things more carefully, I’d have found some plot holes. I had some inklings of, “Why is that happening?” but I usually just ignored them for the most part. Still, they nag me in the back of my mind.
The first quarter dragged a bit. Some of the threads were fine, but some, especially Terry Mcginnis’s, took a long time to get going. The idea of breaking into a facility entered the story in the first few issues, and they just talk about it in a generic way for eighteen issues. That’s inexcusable.
Everything in Future’s End happens amid the backdrop of the war with Darkside, but little time is spent exploring the actual war. We know that there was a fallout between Bats and Supes, but this and many other backstories are only teased and never revealed. I’d have preferred they either develop that backstory properly or keep it out entirely.
The ending just killed this series for me. I was considering it a perfectly fine if not particularly impressive series. Then I read the final issue. Now I’m mad.
Early on in the series we see Terry McGinnis as Batman Beyond come back from several decades in the future. It turns out things get even worse when Brother Eye takes over the world in the not too distant future and goes all Terminator on people. Terry has come back to take out Brother Eye when it is vulnerable, but there’s a problem with the Time Machine and he ends up not having traveled quite far enough. Fast forward forty or so issues, and Batman Beyond manages to travel further into the past and seemingly changes history in a way that would prevent Brother Eye from taking power and keep the other Earth denizens from ever migrating to our dimension, but then Batman Beyond goes back to the future and everything is still awful. End of story.
I can’t believe they did this. The, “It was all just a dream,” story is a universally mocked trope, and yet that’s essentially what they did. I can see it working if we were just following a single character who wanted nothing other than to stop Brother Eye, but we see many characters, and most of their adventures have little to do with Brother Eye, and all of their stories were presumably wiped out considering Batman Beyond changed history in a huge way, and yet even this isn’t really consistent because Batman Beyond ends up having the same girlfriend in the new future even though their stories are irrevocably linked to the old history.
Even leaving all that aside, none of the characters get resolutions to their story arc. It feels like there should be another six issues or so, but all the stories just kind of end without any satisfaction.
This ending is utter crap.
I’m not really a huge Batman Beyond fan, and maybe that plays a role in my view, but I didn’t care for Terry’s story. His character came off as flat. He was almost one-note on his understandable obsession with Brother Eye. They tried to give him layers with his love interest, Plastique, but I didn’t anything interesting about her or find her relationship with Terry believable. Though it’s ridiculous and walks on the line of cringiness, I did find the Joker/Batman hybrid Terminator that was sent after Terry kind of cool. The concept of being chopped up and bound to your worst enemy is legit body horror, and the moments where you see the two both trying to kill Terry but with Batman’s side clearly hating it works as an interesting dynamic, but the actual visual design is hard to take seriously and the Batman/Joker bond isn’t developed into much. Beyond that, Terry’s story was pretty tame. I didn’t care that he died.
I can’t imagine the Michael Holt fans can be too thrilled about this portrayal. Mr. Terrific’s relationship to Brother Eye is interesting especially when he’s trapped along with him in the future, but I have little idea what motivates this character. He’s either in marketing mode or he’s talking to a being he believes is God but is actually Braniac, but there’s no explanation as to why he thinks Brainiac is god or what he thought would happen when Braniac arrived. He’s happy at first when Braniac starts wrecking crap, but then he decides maybe that’s not great. It’s a weird ride.
Firestorm was one of the high points of the series for me. In the early issues when Ronnie Raymond decides to keep Jason Rusch from leaving the matrix, that’s genuinely horrifying stuff, and yet kudos to them for making me feel a little bad when Ronnie died even after having acted like a complete monster. They did a good job breaking the character and partially redeeming him. Jason continued to be compelling the entire time, and I though the story was equally engrossing with Madison as she learned to use her powers. Good stuff that was consistently entertaining.
Grifter and Fifty Sue
From the beginning, Grifter’s story was the one that gripped me the most, and it stayed that way throughout. However, it’s almost incorrect to call it Grifter’s story since after the first quarter or so of the series, Grifter is so outmatched in terms of power that he becomes just a witness to the events around him. Though Grifter is still there, Fifty Sue completely takes over this story arc when she arrives, and I love her. The idea of a nearly all powerful spoiled child is a powerful one I’ve only seen equally well explored in an old episode of the Twilight Zone. Being on a razor’s edge of setting off a kid who could wipe you out with a glance is just really good, and I was surprised by them deciding to resolve her story by giving her a surrogate family. I think it would have been better if they’d separated this stories ties to the rest of Future’s End and just told their own 12 issue series focused on them.
Tim is my favorite character, but he’s insufferable in regular New 52 continuity. Here, I didn’t find him particularly dislikable, but his bitter resentment towards Batman and life in general made him feel like a completely different character. I thought he was fine, but he doesn’t get enough to do. When he takes on the mantle of Batman Beyond at the end of the series, it’s a bit of a surprise since he felt like more of a supporting character.
Frankenstein and Amethyst
Fun but seemingly completely irrelevant to the rest of the story.
There’s more but I’m tired of hearing myself ramble.