The DC3 decided to take on the Herculean task of covering DC’s weekly books! Our coverage will rotate between creator interviews, issue reviews and annotations, and long-form pieces on featured characters. This, friends, is the DC3kly!
The New 52: Futures End #
Written by Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Dan Jurgens, and Keith Giffen
Illustrated by Patrick Zircher
Ray Palmer, Frankenstein and Amethyst take a dangerous journey into the Phantom Zone! And Batman Beyond’s mission could be over before it begins when someone discovers his arrival five years from now!
On the Cover: Ryan Sook, as usual, continues to make very visually striking covers. The image of Red Robin is reminiscent to the Mike Mignola drawn cover to “Batman #428,” which shows the dead Jason Todd (and a cover that thoroughly scared a young Brian). Beyond that, the cover is all about Lois Lane and her investigations.
How is the Story Progressing?: This issue touches on 5 different, and only at times interconnecting, elements of the series thus far. We open on the thugs in the park, who are plotting to break into Terrifitech. As Zach mentioned last time, these are “new” characters to the New 52, and are a bit undercooked thus far. We see Terry (Batman Beyond) also hanging out in the park, pretending to be homeless.
We then take a look inside Terrifitech, where Michael Holt’s technology identifies Terry as the “homeless” man in the park. Thus far, the Holt in this series is more like the much maligned Holt of the Eric Wallace-penned solo series that tanked in the initial New 52 batch, and that is not a good thing. This Holt has lost all growth that James Robinson and Tom Taylor have worked into the character over on “Earth 2,” and his intelligence just manages to seem obnoxious, something the best Terrific stories never did.
We get our first extended look at Ray Palmer, and he seems, more or less, the character we’ve known and loved for years except, you know, with a sweet beard now. This is the strongest section of the book, in part because the characters are actually doing things, and not just plotting to do things, and in part because this is simply the most interesting plot development thus far. The S.H.A.D.E. team is pure comic-booking, with an old man in a lady’s body, a mad scientist, a Princess from an alternate universe, and a Frankenstein. This is the good stuff, people.
This part of the series also manages to tie in some of the bigger DCU ideas, as we see when the gang travels to the Phantom Zone, where they encounter Black Adam, among others. In a big series like this, there should be more big things happening, and this seems like only the second or third “big” idea laid out in the first 7 issues.
We also get the encounter promised on the cover: Lois Lane confronts “Cal Corcoran,” aka Tim Drake, about his past. This is classic Lois, but it feels new, in part, because Lois and the Robins haven’t had a huge amount of shared screen time – especially not without Batman or Superman there as a major focal point. Also of note, Ronnie Raymond is the drunk kicked out of the bar for trying to pick up Madison, the lady friend of “Cal.”
When Lois leaves the bar, she is followed by King Faraday, but he doesn’t get too far before he’s stopped by…Superman? We don’t know if this masked man in the uniform of Superman is actually him, or an impostor of sorts.
New 52 Debuts: Outside of a goon or a henchman, all the characters here are returning ones. This is the first appearance of “Superman” where he speaks, but he showed up in the background of #2 at Green Arrow’s funeral.
Death Toll: I don’t know how you’d count Phantom Zone business, but no one with a corporeal body ties in this issue, though Ronnie does get served:Continued below
Visuals: Zircher is back again, and continues to shine. This issue takes place over a myriad of locations, and each one feels consistent and unique. His character work, as always, is strong, and he works in a lot of personality, even with the most minor of characters.
However, his Phantom Zone work is by far the strongest in the issue. Although, obviously, the coloring helps a sequence like this, all of the phantoms we encounter seem to be both pissed off and floating in a very natural, fluid way.
Three Big Questions:
1. When does the Phantom Zone come into play, timeline wise?
This may seem like a nitpicky question, but it is one that has import to the DCU as a whole. If the Phantom Zone starts to get used as a super-prison for the biggest and baddest, does that change how the heroes of the universe approach putting away their enemies? Back in the middle ages, the Catholic Church endorsed the death penalty because there weren’t prisons strong enough to hold the truly terrible criminals out there, so for the safety of the world at large, criminals could be executed. If there is a Phantom Zone, will killing of supervillains be now an illegal activity?
2. Is that Superman?
We know he’s wearing the logo, but maybe he’s just a Kryptonian with the last name of Hope [rimshot]. He says to leave “Ms. Lane” alone – Ms. Lane, to me, screams Jimmy Olsen, but Olsen with superpowers screams “Countdown to Final Crisis,” and “Countdown to Final Crisis” makes me scream.
3. Why does Lois care so much about Tim Drake?
We know that she’s all about the story, but this seems like an excessive amount of fucks given about one hero, out of many, who might be alive. There must be more to her interest, but there’s been no real indicator of what that is just yet. Any guesses?
Final Verdict: 7.0 – This issue is great in spots, and can be a bit frustrating elsewhere, but that is sort of the deal with a sprawling story from many creators.
The New 52: Futures End #7
Written by Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Dan Jurgens, and Keith Giffen
Illustrated by Aaron Lopresti
The two halves of Firestorm encounter big troubles: some personal, some potentially deadly! And Plastique comes face to face with the DC Universe’s horrifying future! Five years from now, the DC Universe is reeling from a war with another Earth, leaving the world unprepared for an approaching evil that threatens to destroy the future. Can a time-traveling Batman Beyond help a massive cast of the DCU’s finest avert the impending apocalypse? Find out in this new weekly series that will forever alter the direction of The New 52!
On the Cover: Sook shows us homeless Terry, casting a Batman Beyond shadow (and wearing an Ipso Facto shirt, which is a callback to the #0 issue).
How is the Story Progressing?: After last week’s even more scattered storytelling, this issue focuses mainly on two beats: the S.H.A.D.E. mission to the Phantom Zone, and Cadmus island, with a little bit of Lois Lane, Firestorm and Batman Beyond thrown in for good measure.
In the Phantom Zone, we see Frankenstein and Amethyst trying to stop Black Adam before their portal out closes – eventually, it turns into a Frank vs. Adam one on one slug fest, and although Frank loses an arm, he manages to make it out just in time. The portal opens up directly to where Stormwatch floats, destroyed. This actually solves a question from the zero issue, where Frankenstein appears to have Hawkman’s Nth metal arm attached to his body. Since the now arm-less Frank comes across Hawkman floating in space, this makes sense.
Lois Lane and Madison Payne have a quick scene in Lois’s office, where they extrapolate a little more about just what Madison’s father did during “The War.” People online are speculating if we know who “Maxwell Payne” is already, supposing that, perhaps, this is a pseudonym or the real name of Maxwell Lord, and I think people are simply reading too much into this. Her character is a little plain thus far, but she serves a purpose thus far as both a foil for Lois and a confidant for Tim.Continued below
Firestorm gets two pages, and they are relatively pointless. The first scene reveals that the project Dr. Yamakaze is working on involves “transporters,” presumably teleporters, that could have saved many lives during the War. The only other bit of information here is that Jason is still butt hurt over Ronnie. Ronnie, meanwhile, has one of the laziest scenes of the series thus far, showing him at the War memorial looking at his mother’s name and crying. See folks, he’s just like us, he loves his moms too!
(PS – I checked – none of these names, to my knowledge, are Easter Eggs)
On Cadmus Island, we see Deathstroke in training, chatting with the newly dubbed “Fifty Sue.” We’ll get to her down below, but she is acting as motivator and instigator for Slade. Then, we switch to Cole Cash’s room, where he has been cured of his paralysis and is briefed on his role within Cadmus. The one interesting bit of information here is that Cash’s gift has extended to being able to see all doppelgangers (presumably from Earth 2) and all what used to be called metas or “superbeings” as they say here.
Finally, we get a confrontation between Michael Holt and Terry McGinnis, where Terry, eventually, reveals his costume and flies off. When he does, the cyborg is left behind, giving both Holt and Plastique a view of just what he’s been pushing around.
New 52 Debuts: Again, outside of some goons on Cadmus Island, everyone here has been seen before.
Death Toll: Stormwatch is officially revealed as dead, but aside from that (and anyone Slade kills in training), this is a pretty low-impact issue.
Visuals: Aaron Lopresti is one of those good, but unspectacular guys DC trots out frequently (like on “Justice League International” in the New 52). His work here is competent, but nothing really stands out as visually interesting or exciting. He’s a fine draftsman, but the creativity isn’t present at all in this issue. I would normally lay some blame on the sprawling script and quick turnaround time, but Zircher last week showed that there is still room for finesse on this timeframe.
Three Big Questions:
1. What makes Plastique so important?
I am glad the book is giving us some new characters to play with, but I have to ask – why is Plastique so important? This book presumes that she survives thirty years into the future, as she is there as a cyborg in the zero issue. So far, she’s just a (not particularly skilled) crook – what must happen for her to get so important?
2. Is “Team 7” out of continuity?
Slade and Cole talk about each other vaguely, as if they’ve crossed paths just a bit – which goes entirely against a book DC published just a few years ago, “Team 7.” The book, which focused on a pre-current timeline team made up of mercenaries and heroes, had Cole and Slade on the same team. Now, I’m not implying that they vacationed together, but the way they are speaking of each other – in a situation, mind you, where secrecy wouldn’t matter – seems as if the entire series has been, more or less, retconned away. Sorry, Justin Jordan!
3. Who/What is Fifty Sue?
Fifty Sue sort of looks like Father Time, she has similar powers to Grifter, and she appears to hold an important role in Cadmus. Two theories I’ve spotted online are that she’s either a Century Baby from another Earth (unlikely, as even if we are following the extremely shaky New 52 Chronology, that would be make her too old for that appearance) or that she is the daughter of Superman and Wonder Woman, which also seems preposterous.
An Earth 2 Father Time seems like an interesting angle, but one a little confusing for this early on in the story. If you have any guesses, leave them in the comments.Continued below
Final Verdict: 6.2 – A slower, less visually stimulating issue than #6.
The Series So Far: Everything is progressing – albeit slowly – and the book is starting to drag more severely. There needs to be a kick in the ass, and soon.