If the second half of “New 52: Futures End” is anything like the first half, it might end up being the most erratic of DC’s various weekly series of the 21st century. Some issues are a little exciting and interesting, others feel like a proverbial slow motion car crash. In the case of “New 52: Futures End” #24, it’s somewhere in the middle. It’s nice to see Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Dan Jurgens, Keith Giffen, Jesus Merino and Dan Green continue to dust off the storylines that up until recently had lay dormant, but there’s also not enough to latch onto to make waiting one week until the next installment anything pressing.
A prime example of this is the group of characters off in space. It’s great to finally see something happening to them, even if it’s just the return of the Engineer and the arrival back at the Carrier. But if you look at their five pages, did much actually happen? Not particularly. The scenery has shifted slightly, but otherwise our characters are in the exact same situation they were at the start of the issue. That’s one of the greatest problems with “New 52: Futures End” on any given week; there never feels like there’s a strong amount of momentum to carry you into the next issue. Even with half of the storylines being shuffled off-page at any given moment, there’s so much to try and cover that nothing can get started before the “to be continued” mark is hit.
It’s that lack of momentum that especially works against some storylines, like Jason Rusch helping Dr. Yamazake. It’s so slow-moving that it’s hard to remember why we even need to worry about Yamazake’s experiments. His sudden sinister turn feels deeply out of the blue. The less said about Constantine’s scene in a generic African village, the better; his actions and dialogue are genuinely painful to read, feeling like it’s from an earlier and less sophisticated era.
So what does work, then? Well, Merino and Green’s art is a lot of fun; there’s energy to its pages, and Constantine’s face is marvelously expressive even as he’s delivering some ridiculous words to us. Something as simple as Black Adam zooming through space looks majestic and powerful, and those are adjectives that should always be attached to the character. And it’s the most human moments, like Dick’s apology to Madison, that makes the writing work. It’s nothing deeply moving, but it feels much more real than a lot of the other scenes we’ve seen in this series.
In the end, we’ve got some very nice art (having artists like Merino, Cully Hamner and Patrick Zircher draw issues of this series has been a real delight), and a chance to check in on characters that we haven’t seen in a bit. But some of these storylines need to wrap up soon, if only so that the remaining ones can start to gain a little strength and momentum. This is no “Countdown to Final Crisis,” but it’s no “52” or “Trinity” or “Batman Eternal,” either. For a series set in the future threatening Armageddon, the lack of urgency is hard to ignore.