It’s 2049 and Earth is overrun by the robotic hordes of Brother Eye, the human populace in chains. A few heroes remain free, working to down the satellite controlling the super-heroes turned by having the ‘eye-seed’ planted within them. Batman, who bears some responsibility for the situation, takes one last, desperate throw of the dice – a time trip to 2014 to prevent the rise of Brother Eye.
How can you stop the future happening when it’s already started? That’s the question at the heart of DC’s new weekly series, the latest attempt to repeat the success of 52. Like the 2006 hit, it has a group of writers plotting out the actions and a pool of artists to bring the story to life, with artist/writer Keith Giffen’s breakdowns lending a visual unity to the venture.
And like 52, Future’s End grabs me immediately. Which is surprising, as I’m not a big fan of dystopian futures. Brother Eye stories have been done to death by DC over the last decade. And as for tales in which heroes journey into the past to prevent said dark future, the trope is so tired that a book has to have something extra to impress me.
What this Free Comic Book Day zero issue has is confidence and creepiness. From first to last page, it’s evident the writers – Brian Azzarello, Dan Jurgens, Jeff Lemire and the aforementioned Giffen – know where they’re going. And they’re not shy of shocking along the way. Wonder Woman’s torso atop a cyber-spider is a horrible image. The Batman ripped apart by the agents of Brother Eye is deeply unpleasant. But what really sticks with me after the set-up chapter is this image:
Black Canary sewn into the chest of Frankenstein, heroine turned slave and slayer. Now that’s a grabber.
Many a time I’ve sighed over the darkness of DC’s modern superhero comics, replete with gory deaths and gratuitous maiming. And while Future’s End #0 has killing and limb loss, the incidents don’t feel over the top. The context – a world at war – helps, and I like that it’s not a world without hope; Amethyst, Grifter, Captain Cold, a tragically bearded Flash, all still fighting the good fight in the face of apparently overwhelming odds.
It also helps that I don’t have the same attachment to the current versions of Flash, Black Canary and co as I did to the pre-Flashpoint characters. Which may be me admitting defeat.
Still, who knows, if Future’s End – which after this issue is set five years from today – has the odd death, the rest of the line may lighten up a tad.
A reviewer can dream …
It’s probably silly wondering about details in a deliberately bombastic, apocalyptic opener, but I do question how Blue Beetle Jaime Reyes is so easily absorbed by Brother Eye’s cyber-army – he already hosts an alien parasite which would surely put up some form of resistance.
The credits don’t give breakdowns, but it seems we have all the upcoming art teams contributing – Aaron Lopresti & Art Thibert, Dan Jurgens & Mark Irwin, Jesus Merino & Dan Green, and solo acts Patrick Zircher and Ethan Van Sciver. Whatever the case, colourists Hi-Fi lend a consistency to the pages, with regular rich reds bringing a Crisis feel to proceedings. As well as the Black Canary scene, highlights include the last stand in the Batcave, and John Stewart’s run-in with Superman.
And the cover by Ryan Sook is a fine proof of concept.
The story continues this Wednesday and goes on for … well, that’s not too clear, maybe a year, maybe not. Whatever the case, I’m in.
12 thoughts on “The New 52: Future’s End #0 review”
Picked up the issue from my local store as well. Good stuff and very creepy. Would have had more impact if I wasn't spoiled on what happens in it due to Bleeding Cool.
Fun fact: From what I heard, Brian Azzarello is doing the writing for Batman Beyond portion and I believe all of this issue as well. Neat.
I read this too today. It wasn't bad, I'll give it that. And yeah the dystopian futures really have been done to death, especially between the big two. I tend to thing that's just a coping mechanism for people dealing their own mortality. Yeah very sociological, but you get the point.
Anyhoo, very cool, especially the part where Batman warns Terry not to tell past Buce about this because he wouldn't believe him and would stop him. Very true, and Bats should know;)
I'll sit back and watch how all this unfolds, but at least Giffen's back, and the weekly experiment that was 52 could very well work again, albeit in the NU52.
Having just crawled out of a fallout shelter where I was cut off from popular culture for the last fifty years, can I just say that even I don't think this is a very original concept?
Having said that, my biggest disappointment is that when Flash is disintegrated by Frankenstein, his beard doesn't fly off in one piece. For bonus points, Frankenstein could then stitch it onto himself and pretend to be Mitch Pileggi in Dallas – yes I did see the Dallas remake even living in a fallout shelter shut up.
So Azzarello CAN please me. Nice to know!
I'll take the sociology – it's that or a paucity of imagination at the conceptual stage.
Oh dear, yeah, that beard. Why would he have such a monstrosity, it can't be good in terms of friction. It's likely what got him killed.
Perhaps the beard will return as the series continues, as freedom fighter heir to the Speed Force.
One of the best Comics DC has brought out for FCD, I wasn't going to bother with the Futures End story but this book has hooked me in. Also having Terry McGinnis in the story line is a big plus for me, I'm a fan of both the Batman Beyond TV series and comic.
Out of curiosity, did you see the advertisements on the signs in Time Square in the last page? Lots of interesting stuff there, including mentions of something called Earth Registration Act and Veterans of E2.
I've never actually seen Batman Beyond, so Terry is a nice discovery for me.
I did. Most intriguing! I wonder when Mr Terrific returns from Earth 2.
Mart, is it just me or is the Frankenstein/Canary scene there reminiscent (an homage) to that great, creepy Kirby OMAC with the dismembered woman-bot's head in the box talking?
Brilliant observation! I wonder if she has arms and legs sticking out the back?