Welcome, friends to another installment of “The 3cap,” our weekly recap of DC’s three weekly titles: “Batman Eternal,” “Earth 2: World’s End,” and “New 52: Futures End.” Each week, we will take a look at the each issue released, while recapping the action and asking the burning questions. If you spot something we missed, make sure to leave a note in the comments!
Batman Eternal #30
Written by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, and Kyle Higgins
Illustrated by Jason Fabok
Reviewed by Brian Salvatore
News, notes, and debuts:
Outside of a Lucious Fox appearance, I think we are past the point of debuts in “Eternal” – but that Fox scene was actually incredibly effective in planing the idea that, outside of his true inner circle of Alfred and…well, Alfred, everyone else thinks that Bruce has lost it a little. They see him as too militarized, too cold, too reliant on himself alone.
In fact, more than anything else, the legacy of year 1 of “Eternal” is the idea that Batman is more isolated than ever and, despite a sprawling supporting cast, no one else really carries the weight of the cowl except for Bruce. Every ally is doubting him – and most of the time, they’re (at least partially) correct.
In a bit of a happy surprise, we got another Jason Fabok issue ahead of his jump to “Justice League.” The real reason this is a pleasant surprise is that it means that DC is far ahead on this book enough to get a few Fabok issues in the can before he would have to start working on his new gig. That means that the plot is, more or less, ironed out quite far in advance. These shouldn’t be things we’re excited about, but due to all the rumblings of editorial malpractice at DC, it is nice to see.
And Fabok continues to do his “David Finch, but better” thing all over this issue. His use of panel placement to give the illusion of forced perspective makes for a really fun read. For instance, before his S.W.A.T. team showdown, by placing Batman in the background and the legs of the cop in the foreground.
This foreshadows the new S.W.A.T. gear being impressive – and, when it hits, it surely is.
The issue does a great job of showing each passing threat (whether it be the locked caches, or Hush, or the S.W.A.T. team) as one that could feasibly take Batman down. That is a rarer occurrence than it should be in superhero comics.
But more than anything, this issue continues acting as the coming out party for Julia Pennyworth. One of the lasting impacts of the Scott Snyder era of Batman will be the huge influx of young Bat-characters he’s brought forward. While Julia isn’t exactly the sidekick type, she seems to be a viable member of the Bat family going forward, sort of half-her father and half-Catwoman, with a dash of Jason Todd’s militarization tossed in.
Three Eternal Questions:
1. Is there a chance of redemption for Bard?
This issue lays on the “woe is Bard” stuff pretty thickly, showing him drinking during the day and trying to weasel out of his arrangement with Hush. Could the book, potentially, be setting him up for triumph? We know that, as of the end of the story, that Gordon is still in jail. We also know that Gordon hand-picked Bard for the G.C.P.D., and his judgment, while not perfect, is still pretty sound.
Could there be a good cop in there? Could this be how Batman gains the upper hand?
2. Will the events of this book truly affect Batman going forward?
Just about everyone is looking at Bruce and saying “sheesh, man, this is a bit much, isn’t it?” Could he actually heed that advice? From the bit we’ve seen in “Batman” going forward, it is hard to tell. We know he has a new base of operations, but is he changed at all?Continued below
To me, the weapon caches are the part of the story that has been the most effective red flag for the character. For a guy who doesn’t like using a gun to have such extensive manpower, it seems like he’s going against his own principles. Maybe this signals a change in him, that will ripple throughout Gotham.
3. How can we keep Julia around?
While I don’t think the character is quite set to headline her own book yet, Julia has been a great addition to the book, and DC in general, since her debut. Perhaps a new “Birds of Prey” with Julia as a kick-ass Oracle? Toss Harper Row (aka Bluebird) in there, and you’ve got the start of something I would like to read.
Earth 2: World’s End #7
Written by Daniel H. Wilson, Marguerite Bennet, and Mike Johnson
Illustrated by Jan Duursema, Keith Champagne, Robson Rocha, Guillermo Ortego, Tyler Kirkham, Joe Weems, Steven Segovia, Jason Paz, and Jorge Jimenez.
Reviewed by Zach Wilkerson
News, notes, and debuts:
I’ve decided that “Worlds End” feels like a New 52 reincarnation of “Final Crisis.” You have the Apokoliptian threat. You have a heroine at risk of induction in the Furies. Mostly, there’s the same haphazard, breakneck transitions from scene to scene. While that book was certainly divisive in its own wright, it was equally creative and thought provoking. “Worlds End,” unfortunately, presents little of that nuance.
While arguably on par with its futuristic sister title in terms of storytelling, “Worlds End” struggles at some intangible level. I still attest that the problem stems from the this being Wilson’s first major foray into comics, being primarily a novelist. The pacing still feels off, the dialogue often too hokey or expository.
Yet, for its shortcomings, the book remains strangely enjoyable. It’s certainly commendable that the team continues to move at a quick pace, making worthwhile developments with each issue. As with “Earth 2”, the diverse cast remains the book’s strong point. The Green Lantern/Grundy works better than it has a right too, playing at the “gotta catch ’em all” mentality that drove the early years of Johns’ “Green Lantern” run. The World Army team presents a compelling central mystery, and the team up of the various Batman/Superman characters is a fun extension of the “World’s Finest” concept.
As with the early months of “Futures End,” it’s far too early to get a grasp of where this series is heading. For now, however, it continues to be a fun, if fairly flawed, ride.
Three Worldly Questions:
1. Oh, hey Constantine, when did you get here?
Aside from one quick appearance by Constantine in an earlier issue, “World’s End” has done little to establish the mage’s relevance to the series. Perhaps that’s something that’s being covered over in “Constantine” proper, a book I haven’t been reading. It wouldn’t be the first time an event book has required a reader to look outward for information, but it’s disappointing nonetheless. Still, Constantine’s role here seems to be far more interesting than the one he currently plays in “Futures End.”
2. Jimmy Olsen, the newest New God?
The Jimmy Olsen of Earth 2 has always been a special kid, but in this issue he gets a bit more special. Effectively the host for a “child” of two mother boxes, Jimmy looks to be Earth 2’s best chance against the Apokoliptian horde. This event raises numerous questions itself. How does Constantine get ahold of the Helmet of Nabu in the “Futures End” timeline if it’s currently tied up on Jimmy? Does he eventually loose it, leading to the Rubik’s Cube wizard we saw in “Earth 2: Futures End” #1? Also, is this indication that the Helmet of Nabu was fashioned by the New Gods, or rather another race of similar beings?
3. Is Scott Lobdell secretly pulling all the strings?
This is the second issue that the council of creepy Apokoliptian monsters has revered to the “hornblower” that heralds the destruction of worlds. While we’ve yet to see him, I assume that this could only refer to the Oracle, as seen Lobdell’s run on “Superman.” Lobell’s involvement in the New 52 is divisive at best, but his hand can be seen in numerous facet’s of DC’s current event books. The Brainiac thread of “Futures End” has ties back to Lobdell’s “Superman” as well, particularly the “Doomed” crossover that he helped mastermind. “Covergence,” while written by Jeff King, will involve Lobdell to some capacity. Is this how DC has gotten me to enjoy a Lobdell story, by making him the man behind the curtain?Continued below
The New 52: Futures End #29
Written by Brian Azzarello, Keith Giffen, Dan Jurgens, and Jeff Lemire
Illustrated by Patrick Zircher
Reviewed by Vince Ostrowski
News, notes, and debuts:
– “Futures End” #29 breaks the traditional format of checking for a few pages about each of the myriad stories. Perhaps this is a function of the fact that stories have begun to intertwine in a more meaningful way? There are less settings to juggle, after all. Maybe the creative team decided that the key death and the big Firestorm reveal were important enough to spend an entire issue on. I must admit, it did make the events feel more momentous than they otherwise would have. But even if the next few issues don’t involve the kind of high drama we saw here, I’d like to see them revisit this format more often in future issues. This was the best issue of “Futures End” in a while and it was thanks in no small part to the greater sense of focus.
– And because this is a “very special episode” of “Futures End”, we get to enjoy some handsome Patrick Zircher art along with it. We’ve theorized before that the bigger events in these weekly series are being saved for the “flagship” artists – though there are exceptions and it doesn’t mean you can skip other issues easily. Zircher gets to visually orchestrate the reveal – the new Firestorm, made up of Jason Rusch and Madison Payne. His depiction of the scene is surprisingly emotional, given the fact that Ronnie Raymond is apparently sacrificed in the kerfuffle. Ronnie has been a longtime mainstay of the Firestorm mythos, so there’s a lot of history there, ‘New 52’ or otherwise. On the other hand, this is a “5 years later” timeline of a possible future – the death may not end up meaning a whole lot. Still, they were able to cull emotion from it, and a grand reveal of a new Firestorm with a terrific design. Essentially, the moment is spoiled by the cover of the issue, but the Zircher take on it inside is just as appealing.
– I wouldn’t recommend skipping anything in “Futures End” anyway. There was a lull in quality a couple of months in, but over the course of the last few issues, things have really picked up and the quality of the storytelling came up with it. Stories are intersecting in a satisfying way, and plotlines that were once meandering and repetitive have been given new meaning. It took a while for the stars to align – and there is a stretch that will still be tough to get through if you’re trying to re-read or catch up, but “Futures End” is running at a high quality right now. It remains the first thing I read each week.
– We got to see Cal Corcoran (still the worst alias I’ve heard since Nick Papagiorgio) in action, fighting off goons using his Red Robin skills. Seeing his newer Red Robin costume, however, has me hoping that “Convergence” will afford us a look back at his pre-“Flashpoint” Red Robin costume again.
Three Future Questions:
1. Is this the end for Ronnie Raymond?
I wrote a little bit about this already up above, but it’s a real question I have, so I thought I’d include it here. I’m of many minds on this. On the one hand, this is “Futures End” – all kinds of crazy shit is happening on a regular basis that they wouldn’t be able to easily walk back from if this weren’t a story about a “possible” future. Ronnie Raymond’s death could mean absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of the ‘New 52’, just like the theoretical death of the New 52 “Teen Titans” (wishful thinking) in the pages of this very same weekly series.
On the other hand, this is another chance for DC Comics to install diversity (*gasp*) into their established characters. Let’s be honest, the duo of Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch was getting dramatically stale. (Even uncomfortably racially charged, depending on who was doing the writing.) The show-off lothario jock butting heads with the reserved science kid felt like the same territory from “Brightest Day” era Firestorm being mined all over again. This is a chance to create a new dynamic with new conflicts moving forward. Maybe DC finds a way, perhaps through “Convergence”, to make that leap?Continued below
2. How does Firestorm link up to the events on Cadmus Island?
We finally got a resolution to the goings on at Dr. Yamazake’s lab and our frequent commenter Ron Westphal was right when he surmised that Yamazake’s role would ultimately be the creation of the new Firestorm. With that said, we still can’t be sure how Firestorm will reconnect with the plotlines that are converging at Cadmus, but I’m almost certain they will. Last time Firestorm was a thing, Ronnie and Jason let the Justice League down and were called to question for it. I smell a redemption coming, and a respectful nod of approval from a gloriously bearded Green Arrow, who was once thought to be dead because of Firestorm’s inaction.
3. Does Cal -err- Tim Drake find some inspiration now?
We already saw a teaser that suggested that Tim Drake is going to put the Batman cowl on, but we also know that (thanks to Superdickery), what’s on the cover of a comic or in a teaser doesn’t always come to fruition in the way it was originally depicted. In this case, I’m buying Drake getting back into the superhero game and I think it begins with Madison Payne’s “disappearance” and the death of Ronnie Raymond. Tim has the fire again, and the cowl will find his way into his hands. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.