You know those ensemble movies that come out around Valentine’s Day? The ones with the all-star cast that you know your going to have to stomach because your significant other thinks it’ll be a romantic way to spend some time together. No matter how many stars are packed into the movie it’s still an hour and a half of mind-numbing buffoonery and sloppy relationship jockeying. Futures End #13 is the comic book equivalent of that. We get an all-star ensemble of writers in Brian Azzarello, Keith Giffen, Dan Jurgens, and Jeff Lemire, yet on a weekly basis all we get are brief glimpses into pedantic relationships that go nowhere.
The issue is set up in vignettes (as are all the issues) where a different group of characters deal with some high drama. In this issue Cal (a man hiding his true identity) deals with a robber, Mr. Terrific philosophizes about morality and technology, Grifter has some back and forth with the petulant Fifty Sue, some quickly developed Batman Beyond backstabbing, and some dialogue between Emiko and Barda that ends in a confrontation with Deathstroke. Where does this ultimately all end up? Absolutely nowhere. Well, that’s not entirely true. You’ll probably scratch your head and wonder what the hell is going on until you decide to read a summary of the entire series on Wikipedia when it ends instead of spending $2.99 a week.
There’s no fluidity to the storyline. It’s clearly too difficult to design a story that occurs in multiple story threads with multiple writers and have it seem like it is working towards a common goal. Even after thirteen issues there’s still not a clear idea of what’s going on. Are they preparing to fight a evil cybernetic villain? Is the point that everyone is flawed and therefore there are no heroes? Maybe it’s just an exercise to show that Deathstroke, Grifter, and Mr. Terrific can never be used in an entertaining way.
This may seem harsh, but there had to be a better plan of execution for a weekly series than the “throw a bunch of stuff together each week and see where it takes us” model that is currently being used. Batman Eternal seems to work on a weekly basis, but then it has a clearly laid out conflict. The zero issue of Futures End even had a clear plan, but it has since become overshadowed and that’s sad.
Patrick Zircher, whose art is usual pretty great, even seems too rushed with this comic. There are two panels in this issue that exemplify a use of shadow to completely cover character features that is just ridiculous. In one panel, Cal destroys a mugger with a Jean Claude Van Damme spin kick. Everything is very detailed except for a blotch of black that conveniently masks his face from his upper lip down. In another panel, Fifty Sue looks down a ventilation shaft after pushing Grifter. Aside from her outline and a standard blue sky background, the entire panel is black. Grifter, however, peers down the same shaft earlier and we see clear features down to his five ‘o clock shadow. Again, it’s not lazy; the perspective choice could even be deemed realistic, yet the lack of cohesiveness from panel to panel makes it feel rushed.
Comic book readers should expect more from a weekly comic than just names on the cover. Lemire, Jurgens, Giffen, and Azzarello are hugely talented writers, yet Futures End #13 is a huge disappointment.