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Boys, Toys, Electric Irons, and TVs 04: Futures End #0-4

A full cycle is complete. One month. Four weeks. This is the quintuple-size debut of Futures End and… where are we? What have we learned? What have we gained as people? How has this weekly dose of the Nu52DCU five years in the future enriched our lives? Has it really been just a month? It feels like more/less. I don’t know anymore… I just don’t know…

I haven’t mentioned the art of this comic much yet. That is for numerous reasons. Primary being that I have never felt comfortable/confident in discussing art despite any and all efforts to improve. But, it’s also that I don’t want to. I don’t want to drone on and on when I can sum it up like this: after a month, Patrick Zircher’s issue is the best-looking one. Then, it’s a tie for last. Like every other weekly DC series before it, this is a generic, dull-looking comic that seems to sum up the DiDio-era house style: bland, bland, bland. I try to remember bits of art from every non-Zircher issue and all I see is a vague fog of square chins and skinny, scratch lines and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and

The ‘voice’ of the writing isn’t much better. While TV has shown the ability to take a writer’s room and filter it through the unique, singular voice of the showrunner from time to time, comics have not yet learned that, perhaps, these weekly series would be best served by picking a top writer and letting him or her do the final draft to give the issues some other feeling than reading the work of a group of people who would rather be doing anything than writing these comics and wanting people to recognise that they are writing them. I’m sure Brian Azzarello contributed to this series. They credit him. But… for the life of me, I can’t see it. Except for maybe the bit of dialogue that Lois Lane said in issue four that carried over to a caption that began the next scene on the next page. He likes to do that… usually with dialogue that’s a bit more witty or clever or playful, mind you… I don’t see any voice jumping off the page, demanding that I care. I don’t care.

I don’t know what this comic is about. I don’t know what the point is. What is the hook after a month? It’s five years in the future and we’re following around the d-list of the Nu52DCU? Here are the plotlines that I have picked up:

* Batman (Terry McGinnis) has travelled back in time to prevent Brother Eye from taking over the world. He has not succeeded. He has also barely appeared since his trip to the past.

* Grifter is killing Daemonites. Someone named King Faraday has been trailing him. He recently paralyzed Grifter after Grifter turned down his offer to work for Faraday, leaving Grifter to, presumably, be arrested as a mass murderer.

* Firestorm didn’t save Green Arrow from being blown up, because controlling half Ronnie was too busy having sex. Passive half Jason blames him for this, so Ronnie is refusing to stop being Firestorm to keep his shameful secret over Jason’s protests.

* Stormwatch done got blown up. Frankenstein has been recruited by SHADE to investigate with Amethyst.

* Mr. Terrific loves being himself. He’s also concerned that a new Batman tried to break into his headquarters and is unaware that a trio of supercrooks are going to try and rob him.

* Red Robin has assumed a new identity as the manager of a bar after being thought dead. Lois Lane has found this out and is trailing him. Drake now seems to hate superheroes, presumably bitter about his time as one.

The only constant that I can see is the orbiting of the idea of what being a superhero means; how much of a commitment is required. Every plot revolves around characters that are either so devoted to their causes that they are never not their heroic personas or characters that are running/hiding from the nonstop demands of being a hero only to be sucked in somehow (I think it’s a safe bet that Red Robin will rise from the ashes). As we have moved into the 21st century, it’s been a trend in mainstream superhero corporate comics for characters to move further and further away from having private lives. Secret identities are rarer and rarer – and those that exist seem mostly window-dressing that are given brief nods of acknowledgment when it won’t distract from the main attraction: nonstop superhero action. It used to be about finding a balance between the personal and the professional; now, it’s about the professional barely being restrained from strangling the personal while it sleeps. There is no refuge from the life of a superhero. It is the modern condition of life in the Western world.

Story continues below

Futures End is about my inability to stop writing about comics. And it’s about waiting for you Twitter feed to update. And staring at Tumblr gifs for too long. And watching for the latest rumour scoop. And writing erotic fanfiction. And getting headaches from fluorescent lights. And texting while driving. And and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and and

It’s about killing the future and failing, because there will always be a future. It never ends. Kill all of the futures and there will still be Superman and Batman and Wonder Woman. And they will always be young. And vital. And Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne and Diana. Futures end; superheroes are forever. Begin the new cycle. It’s just in your head. It never ends.


I appreciate your resolve in doing this weekly because I’m sure this is going to be a grind based on what I’m seeing.

Your last paragraph sums up why I got away from having a regular pull of superhero comics: nothing matters. We just move from big event to big event, and at the end, the characters will still be there. Blow up the Earth, the heroes will still be there (and yes, I know Giffen blew up the Earth). So a series which has the caveat of the “past must change to save the future” already starts with a promise of that status quo being restored.

That said, I think it would be ballsy for DC to make people buy this for 52 weeks and then Brother Eye wins anyway; it would, from a storytelling perspective, break formula somewhat for this sort of thing [yes, I know Terminator and other time travel stories exist with that ending, but most of the time it ends with a restoration of some kind] and just take a ton of stones to do. Also, they have the out that the story is already 5 years in the future anyway, so that would mean five years before we get to where the story starts to change things.

A story that’s a major event for 52 weeks that the publisher may already know won’t “count” because of the set-up? Maybe DC is, as some have noted, just trolling its readers now.

tom fitzpatrick

May 29, 2014 at 7:29 pm

Is Chad Nevett’s the guy who ruined CBR for everybody?

We are ALL doomed to the endless ranting and ravings and ruminations and theorizing and recollections and what-not of the Nevett.

Well, welcome back, Chad. Even if it just for the Future’s ends.

tom fitzpatrick

May 29, 2014 at 7:29 pm

It’s like you never left! ;-)

The most worrying thing about #4 for me is that I forgot that the woman stalking Red Robin was supposed to be Lois.

Chad, I think you’re having an existential crisis. This happened to me about 12 years ago, when I suddenly realized that I was reading a bunch of books for the sake of reading them with absolutely no enjoyment. I dropped a ton of them and didn’t look back. I’m kind of going through that again right now, but thanks to the ongoing cycle of cancellations and relaunches, it’s easier to drop stuff at a clean break point.

Unless you’re reading these on assignment, in which case, I hope CBR is reimbursing you for your issues, time, and therapy bills. Heck, I’ll take over your assignment if CBR just reimburses me for each issue.

I still like your writings. I don’t suggest that you continue texting while driving, but you can’t even give up these awful comics.

Don’t take everything there to mean it applies to me. I don’t drive or text. Well, except when my wife is driving and she asks me to text someone for her on her phone (usually whoever we’re driving to meet/visit).

Oh dear. I know this feeling. My brain nearly shorted out this way when I reviewed “Deathmate” for Collected Editions.

Just take a deep breath, and then go read something that’s really entertaining like Joe Kelly’s “Deadpool” run to clear your head.

i love your writing

I’m not sure I agree with your idea of the “secret identity” being a metaphor for the personal and professional. Mosy superheroes with secret identities had careers, and they often found those careers jeopardized for the sake of being a hero. Hal Jordan and John Stewart, for instance, have pretty much given up test piloting or designing buildings.

Furthermore, superheroes are known to do personal, non-career-related things in their heroic identities. There are all those Superman stories where he does scientific research in the Fortress of Solitude, or those many times where Spider-Man swings around the city, not because he is patrolling for crimes, but because he just loves swinging through the air.

I think the dual identity has always been a metaphor for personal advancement vs. the greater good, not work-life balance. And I think the lower frequency of its use is partly because writers have thought up less obvious ways to tell stories like that.

I think another factor is that having a civilian identity used to be a crutch writers used to get a reader to identify with a character. There’s a persistent (and false) idea that people can’t identify with someone they don’t demographically resemble, so the thought was making a hero a civilian was the only way to make them relatable. Somethings changed though, either the writers have gotten better, or people have gotten more empathetic, because we’ve finally realized we can identify with full-time heroes just fine. As a consequence writers have started jettisoning dual identities.

I also generally object to the idea that, because the status quo is always restored at some point in the future, these stories have no meaning. Imagine you are on vacation, and you are trying to figure out what cool places to visit. Some killjoy tells you that it doesn’t matter what you do or where you visit, because at the end of the vacation you’ll go home. That’s obviously false. Adventures are fun. The fact that things go back to normal when they’re over doesn’t make them any less fun.

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