As the month-long release of "Futures End" one-shots lumbers towards its conclusion, Marc Andreyko and Jason Masters bring Batwoman five years into the future for an issue-long rock 'em, sock 'em battle with her sister Alice. There's just one catch: Kate Kane has become a vampire hell-bent on destroying every connection to her former life while Alice fights to atone for her sins. Stuffed with cliched dialogue and bland artwork, "Batwoman: Futures End" #1 will leave readers thankful that this future may never come to fruition.
As promised by the cover, Batwoman is a vampire in this possible future -- simple as that. Andreyko leaves the circumstances surrounding this turn of events languishing in obscurity, up to and including key information like how this change occurred and how long Batwoman has been a vampire, which in turn throws into question her motivations, her targets and her state. Instead, he opts for one long fight sequence between the two sisters without the emotional weight this implies; both show only a determination to off the other, aside from one cookie cutter flashback so melodramatic and sentimental that it will leave readers rolling their eyes. Indeed, as Alice's teammates fall to Batwoman's vampiric rage, she barely bats an eyelash despite her newfound quest for repentance. However, the scarcity of the dialogue comes as a welcome relief considering the trite sayings that come out of the characters' mouths. Batwoman sounds like she flew right out of a D-list horror movie as she spews corny lines about killing her enemies with over-the-top Gothic lettering. Further, the twist at the end hardly comes as a surprise, concluding the issue with an unsatisfying, dispassionate death.
Jason Masters' details are just as sparse as the dialogue. His scene work generally relies on Guy Major's surprisingly bright colored fills in lieu of the Gotham city skyline, leaving little to look at from one panel to the next. When backgrounds are utilized, the city streets are completely empty of any figures beyond the ones involved in the action, which is hardly believable for a city notorious for its nighttime activity. When there is detail to be found, most often where there's some sort of destruction, the action quickly becomes crowded and confusing among the scattered glass and debris. Likewise, the characters' expressions tend towards stoic unless there's emotion in the extreme, such as rage or terror. However, to his credit, Masters' costume design for Alice is pretty fabulous, opting for a steampunk-inspired outfit and messy Mohawk. Though the choice of corset is certainly impractical, his costuming decisions certainly hit the vampire-slaying rebel type right on the nose with his own little flair.
"Batwoman: Futures End" #1's only strength is that it is a blessedly short read with its sparse dialogue and simple artwork. Fans of Batwoman especially will bemoan her total mischaracterization, for there is no Kate Kane to be found in this issue -- there is only vampire. Fortunately, this issue is completely skippable in the grand scheme of the event and the series.