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“The New 52: Futures End” #8
Written by Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Dan Jurgens, and Keith Giffen
Illustrated by Scot Eaton
Inked by Drew Geraci
Colors by Hi-Fi
Lettered by Carlos M. Mangual & Dezi Sienty
Welcome to Cadmus Island, Grifter! We hope your visit is – survivable! Plus: Who is the strange being from the temple in southeast Asia – and why should John Constantine find him of great interest?
On the Cover: The mysterious being (Parasite?) from the final pages of the issue ominously treads some bloody water. Yet another fine cover from artist Ryan Sook.
How is the Story Progressing?: The issue opens on Cadmus Island, Grifter’s new holding place. He walks the island with Fifty Sue, who we find out is ridiculously powerful and happens to be Deathstroke’s “Robin”, as it were.
Meanwhile, Lois Lane is booking a trip to the number from the mysterious package left on her doorstep, which she believes are locational coordinates. Jason Rusch works with a Dr. Yamazake on experimental matter transport tubes, which doesn’t end up functioning properly. Yamazake leaves the lab to think about what could have gone wrong, when our favorite masked Superman (I’m going to start referring to him as SuperMask) smashes through the skylight of the lab (the preferred method of dramatic superhero entry). He’s there to tell Jason that Firestorm is needed, and whatever problems he and Ronnie have need to be worked out.
Millions of lightyears away, Ray Palmer, Frankenstein, and Amethyst try to solve “Who killed Stormwatch?” I also think they might be the only ones who care. They recover a few of the Stormwatch members’ bodies, and Palmer begins the autopsy. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see him shrink down to do this, but we do get to see him chop off Hawkman’s arm to prove fellow DC3’er Zach Wilkerson’s observation that Frankenstein’s oddball arm from the zero issue came from Hawkman’s body.
Some operatives in Southeast Asia come upon a jungle temple that boasts the symbol of Brainiac. Remember that a few issues ago, John Constantine came across crop circles that were cut into the same symbol. As they pass by the temple, a robotic-looking figure jumps from the brush. My thinking is that this is some future version of the Superman villain “Parasite”, based on the color scheme and the wraparound ring designs on its body. However, previous appearances of the ‘New 52’ Parasite had him looking entirely organic and monstrous. Regardless, that’s my best guess. Could this temple be a haven for Brainiac, Parasite and other Superman villains? The Brainiac symbol is referred to using the word “god” – has Brainiac become a godlike or legendary figure?
New 52 Debuts: The Southeast Asian treasure-hunting characters are new, but they’re pretty much obliterated right away. Classic comic cannon fodder.
Death Toll: Aside from the treasure hunters, we can also say “rest in peace” to the dreams of Dr. Yamazake’s matter transporter. The lesson here, kids, is “never try.”
Visuals: Scot Eaton doesn’t get talked about a lot, but I think he’s a fine superhero comic artist. I first noticed him over at Marvel on “Captain America” a few years back, but since switching to DC Comics, we’ve seen him as a more than reliable fill-in artist, as well as the main penciller on “Forever Evil: Arkham War.” His style is fairly straightforward and handsome, fitting in rather well with what Patrick Zircher does on a monthly basis. Actually, since both Eaton and Zircher were regular artists on “Forever Evil” tie-in books, “Futures End” feels like a visual extension of that event – though I think it’s been a lot more fun.
There’s been nothing flashy about the layouts in “Futures End”, which feels like an attempt to tell a complicated story as simply as possible. Everything is clear and capably realized, but I would like to call attention to a particular stand-out section:Continued below
The Ray Palmer/autopsy of Stormwatch segment is easily the most visually interesting, seeing as it’s a little more unhinged than everything else. While I bemoan the loss of classic pre-New 52 Atom, there is something fun about an untamed, bearded, dangerous, slightly mad Ray Palmer hacking off Hawkman’s arm in the name of science. Palmer is just so matter-of-fact about the whole thing that I’m not sure whether to laugh or be horrified. “Futures End” isn’t experimenting with artists the way that “Batman Eternal” did on week 11, but I’ve been finding one or two sequences or moments that specifically catch my eye each time out.
Three Big Questions:
1. Where are Apollo and The Engineer?
Stormwatch was previously declared dead, but in recovering the bodies, there were two that Palmer and company could not locate: Apollo and the Engineer. I think we’ve all read enough fiction to know that when you don’t see the dead body – the person didn’t really die. So where are they?
2. Is that JLA tech in Yamazake’s lab?
SuperMask questions Jason over what he perceives to be JLA technology in the lab of Dr. Yamazake. But Jason’s all like “Nah, can’t be.” and SuperMask is all like “Oh. Cool.” But is something fishy going on here? Jason obviously doesn’t know anything about how the tech got there, but I have a feeling that Dr. Yamazake got it from somebody involved with the Justice League. A formerly evil member? A good member turned heel?
3. Where will Lois end up?
The coordinates on Lois’ message don’t go to anything that they can find on a map, so where do they actually lead? I’m guessing that this is either where Aquaman interjects into the story in earnest, or that this leads to some hidden base of some type. It’d be a good spot for Cadmus Island to hide.
Final Verdict: 6.5 – The series treads water here a bit. Not bad, but not much to sink ones teeth into. An inoffensive transitional issue common in weekly ongoing titles.
“The New 52: Futures End” #9
Written by Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Dan Jurgens, and Keith Giffen
Illustrated by Patrick Zircher
Colors by Hi-Fi
Lettered by Taylor Esposito
Can the Masked Superman stop a Rampage in Metropolis? Plus, Batman Beyond must figure out what to do after a startling revelation threatens to change his entire mission.
On the Cover: The hulking Rampage clocks SuperMask in the melon so hard he crashes through a billboard.
How is the Story Progressing?: Turns out the coordinates did lead Lois to Cadmus Island – not that she can actually identify it or even see it. Instead, she flies clear over it, confused as hell. Down below, Slade and Fifty Sue reveal the real reason why they brought the Grifter onto their team: Cadmus Island is acting as a prison for Earth 2 metahumans. Among the prison, we see Mister Miracle, Dr. Fate, Hawkgirl, Power Girl, along with some other Earth 2 “Wonders.” Grifter is meant to sniff more of these out.
While “Cal Corcoran’s” girlfriend Madison Payne interrogates her father about the fate of the Teen Titans at the Metropolis Armory Ward, Rampage busts in to steal away an important-seeming prisoner named Ethan Boyer. Rampage meets resistance from SuperMask, who against busts through the ceiling to save the day. The Man of Steel may allow thousands of innocent humans die when he takes on alien beings, but he does keep the construction crews of Metropolis with plenty of work on their hands.
Over at Terrifitech, Mister Terrific examines the technology of the Engineer-looking cyborg that we saw in the early issues of “Futures End.” Could this be where the Engineer ended up, since Ray Palmer couldn’t find her? He notes that the technology looks like something he himself had been designing, but could not yet achieve with modern resources. Clearly this is an artifact from the future – from Mister Terrific’s own future, to be precise.
Terry McGinnis stalks Coil, Key, and Plastique into the “Wounded Duck” bar. Meanwhile, a now-one-armed Hawkman comes to on the S.H.A.D.E. spaceship and he’s pretty peeved that Frank’s got his other one. Hawkman reveals that Apollo got incinerated by something out in space. So perhaps Apollo’s unrecovered body will really remain unrecovered? I’m still banking on my Engineer theory though.Continued below
New 52 Debuts: The Metropolis prisoner Ethan Boyer is somebody important, to be sure, but just what role he plays remains to be seen.
Death Toll: No deaths again this time around, which surely means we should be preparing for a bloodbath, right? Hawkman did look like he really wanted to kill Ray Palmer though.
Visuals: Patrick Zircher’s gorgeous and detailed art graces the page again with issue #9. Much like Jason Fabok over on “Batman Eternal”, whenever Zircher is drawing the title, everything looks more cinematic and handsome. The rotating art has been putting out a solid product, but it’s easy to see why Zircher’s art was put up front upon the initial release of the series. This is the model for what “Futures End” is meant to look like.
Most impressive is the reveal on Cadmus Island, as we see a host of familiar faces and costumes trapped in containment cells for being superhumans from another world. It’s the first time that we get a direct view of the conflict between Prime Earth and Earth 2, whereas up until now there was merely some background talk or suggestion of it. The two page spread is pretty effective, depicting restless heroes being shut off from everything else – familiar iconography playing a major role in informing our feelings about what we’re seeing.
Three Big Questions:
1. Who is Ethan Boyer?
Madison calls Boyer a “sicko”, so he’s clearly a man with some sinister history. I suppose there’s a chance that the story could move forward without ever going back to this plot point, but it seems like by naming him and sending Rampage to break him out of prison, he must have some future role to play? It just seemed so out of left field.
For that matter, “Futures End” seems to be introducing a lot of brand new minor characters for the heroes to interact with, such as Madison Payne herself. Which brings me to my next question.
2. Who is Madison Payne’s father?
I can’t for the life of me figure out who Madison’s father is supposed to be, but maybe that’s the wrong question. I get so wrapped up in the idea of the ‘New 52’ as a “relaunch” that perhaps I’m not considering that he might just be a brand new character with no previous role in any version of the DCU. One thing we do know is that he betrayed the Earth somehow (in the Earth Wars?) and resulted in the loss of the Teen Titans (at least that’s what Madison seems to suspect). My best guess is that he sold Prime Earth out in Earth 2’s favor somehow. He ultimately wasn’t successful, obviously, and ended up in the armory ward for it. But what role did he play and what power did he have to execute this betrayal?
3. What incinerated Apollo?
I might be overthinking this whole “death of Stormwatch” thing. Maybe it’s because I have a selfish and personal desire to see the Stormwatch concept put to bed for a good long while (or sent in a time capsule back to the ’90s where it was actually conceptually sound). Nevertheless, I feel like there’s some timey-wimey going on all these lightyears away where Stormwatch got their house wrecked. After all, what I believe to be the Engineer ended up back in Mister Terrific’s lab, but in a technologically advanced form. Meanwhile, Apollo was incinerated by something out in deep space. Could it have been the tech that we saw wrecking shit in the “Futures End” zero issue? Supposedly this invasion was to occur 5 years from the current “Futures End” timeline (which is 5 years from the ‘New 52’ timeline – got that?), but perhaps they’ve caught up to it somehow, out in deep space? Perhaps they entered a time rift somewhere?
Or I could be way, way off. This is one I’m really going out on a limb on.
Final Verdict: 8.0 – a great looking issue that moves the plot forward more than most.
The Series So Far: 7.0 – “Futures End” is steady as she goes. There have been very few highs and very few lows. It’s moving at a pretty slow pace, but the last issue featured a reveal that builds into the larger narrative of the DCU status quo. It can be argued that the overall direction or attitude of the DC Comics’ line is trying too hard to be cynical or edgy, but I don’t think “Futures End” falls victim to that, even while being a flagship event.