My first reaction upon completing “New 52: Futures End” #16: just study the cover, as the entire issue is all spoiled right there. While the last page reveal isn’t as slick as Ryan Sook’s cover, it is one of the best images in this comic book.
Jesus Merino’s art is solid, but his storytelling is lackluster, and at some points flawed. One example comes when Lois needs a distraction. Conveniently, some random bystander leaps into action. Where he comes from, who he is, or where he’s going, we never see, as the panel shows the character in motion from the mid-torso down. That proves to be enough to distract the cops from Lois, indicating that perhaps the Metropolis Police Department is undermanned and staffed by individuals with the attention span of a golden retriever. While most of the characters are fine as Merino draws them, Frankenstein is less of a hulking monster and more of a zombie-like being with Frankenstein’s head. These visual foibles make “New 52: Futures End” #16 appear unfinished, or at the very least, rushed.
The writing crew of Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Dan Jurgens and Keith Giffen stitch together a few of the divergent threads, bringing Mister Terrific and the space-faring crew of Frankenstein, Amethyst and Hawkman onto the same track. The outstanding threads are barely advanced, with the most significant development being the breaking of Superman’s face shield. To expose his chin. Superman’s fight with Rampage continues, which could be a fun thread — like Mark Waid’s continual use of Team Turmoil in “The Flash” — but the writing crew loses the note for this story in the cacophony of this issue. Additionally, the Cadmus Island story has gotten boring — or more pointedly, the story with Grifter and Deathstroke and Fifty Sue is boring. It feels like the wheels are spinning, but it is going nowhere, simply holding space and marking time, waiting for a story to catch up as it fills three pages which could have been better used on the Earth-2 refugees, Firestorm or not-Tim Drake.
Rounding out the underwhelming adventure in “New 52: Futures End” #16 is the full-fledged debut of Stormguard, quite possibly the lamest hero name in comics today. Luckily he left the weather-stripping out of his utility belt, so the writers are able to give him some character development, but with a rejected 1990s name, the character has a steep hill to climb to gain fan’s attention. It’s a weird addition to the menagerie of tales going on in this series at an even weirder juncture, as things seem to be finally starting to come together. Hopefully things pick up now that the story arcs are beginning to point towards an intersection.