The first issue of Futures End ended with the death of Green Arrow and, aside from the funeral in the second issue and the two parts of Firestorm dealing with the fallout of not being there to save him, it’s completely faded from the book. It wasn’t until last week when Emiko mentioned the death of her brother to Barda that it really returned in any way. It’s been the sleeper plot of the book, there from the beginning, but never spoken of. I’ve been waiting to address it, figuring that the release of Futures End: Green Arrow #1 would be a good chance if the series proper hadn’t already done so… and who knew that the timing of that one-shot and the weekly series would be so good?
Oliver Queen, the former Green Arrow, isn’t dead it turns out; he faked his death to prepare for war on Cadmus Island. The seeds planted in those first two issues actually make this one of those reveals that is both surprising and totally logical. Queen was established as one of the lone voices championing treating the refugees from Earth 2 like fellow human beings instead of aliens. It plays into his activist nature and positions him to be central in the conflict that’s brewing, not just with Cadmus but with Brother Eye and Brainiac as well. It’s a somewhat surprising role for Queen. While he’s always been one of the more known heroes in the DCU, he’s never been one of the premier ones. He’s a clearcut second tier hero behind even the Martian Manhunter to a degree. Here, though, in a comic that seems to be purposefully using secondary and tertiary characters, he’s got a chance to stand out, using his wealth to position him as a power player.
I’m not convinced that it will work out entirely, especially with the moves that Brother Eye has made. How will Queen and his army fare against the people he’s meant to be liberating? The Green Arrow one-shot set up the events of Futures End well enough. However, only as a retrospective prologue; without knowing the truth about Cadmus Island, the entire thing kind of falls flat to a degree. That’s not a complaint, it’s a sign of a good use of this month’s theme. Given the way that the Aquaman issue didn’t do much to tie into Futures End proper, I’m glad that one of the co-writers of the series used one of their one-shots to enhance/advance the main plot. Granted, Aquaman’s plot continues in Futures End: Aquaman and the Others #1 later this month, so maybe it will turn around and play a vital role. It is telling that, of the three one-shots that I read this week, only Green Arrow mentioned Futures End.
Futures End: Earth 2 was a frustratingly odd read. It clearly takes place during Futures End after the announcement of the uSphere, but, otherwise, it doesn’t seem to bear much resemblance to the weekly series. Michael Holt (Mr. Terrific) is virtually unrecognisable. In Futures End, he’s almost exclusively in costume, but, here, he wears only casual clothes. That seems like a serious misinterpretation of the character – at least the character five years hence. Part of Mr. Terrific’s most glaring character traits is that he’s a superhero 24/7. His life as a scientist/celebrity/technological messiah is his superhero life. There’s no distinction between the two. Is he Michael Holt playing Mr. Terrific or Mr. Terrific playing Michael Holt? He’s both and neither. He just is that singular person all of the time. He’s the mirror of Oliver Queen, taking up the gauntlet he threw down by going public, but amping up the visibility while Queen has faded from the world. Each taking the approach that they think is best to help the world and be the superhero.
Earth 2, though, presents a decidedly unsuper Holt in the middle of a plot that seems almost laughable in its corniness. The only part that rang true was his creation of the Boom Spheres and his general attitude that technological advancement is a good in and of itself. He’s been the champion of the future always winning no matter what. Things will progress, there’s no use fighting it. He’s a superhero because he always wins; the future always wins. He just hopes it will be a victory worth championing.
Queen is a voice of a different sort of progress. He’s a champion of social progress, of the future that will come about eventually. He fights for inclusion and tolerance, of advanced thinking. It’s interesting that the progress he seeks is internal, of making people better, while Mr. Terrific only tries to progress the external, unsure if it will be a positive or negative on people. It’s very much an approach rooted in the type of superheroics practiced by Superman: do things in the world and hope that they will make people change themselves. Queen is more active, seeking to produce specific changes in people. He wants to shape the world in a controlled manner, clear on where he’s going.
The issue that I realised, after the fact, that I should have picked up (and may get next week) is Futures End: Action Comics #1, which looks like it expands upon Kal-El’s time in Africa to a degree. As it seemed in last week’s issue of Futures End, he has retreated from the world because of his actions in the war, leaving Billy Batson as his replacement. (The funniest moment in this week’s issue was Lois Lane reacting like she’s never heard of journalists not reporting things for some idea of the ‘greater good.’) Why does every future always have Superman either as a recluse or as a pawn of the ruling class? And why is he another version of Oliver Queen and Mr. Terrific? He has abandoned his personal life to be a type of superhero all of the time: not Superman, but Kal-El, the man who would farm the desert as John Constantine pleads with him to save the world… Ha.
It does strike me as somewhat ironic that Futures End is starting to ramp up and pull things together just as we begin a month of ostensible tie-ins… few of which seem to tie in at all. Maybe next week will be better.