Looking at the preview for Futures End #29 at the end of this issue and noticing that it all relates to the Tim Drake/Firestorm story, I began thinking about what we have been told about the future of this series through solicitations. It’s a comic about the future, so why not look at the brief glimpses of the future that we have at our disposal?
Issue 29: The meaning of Firestorm – and heroism – will change for everyone whose lives have been touched by the matrix in this special issue devoted to Jason, Ronnie, Madison and Tim’s fight for survival against a man pushed to the edge by grief.
Issue 30: Remember how everything was converging? It’s all-out war for Cadmus Island – against Brother Eye! Storylines collide in this can’t-miss issue!
Issue 31: After the revelations of the last two issues, the Endgame begins! One hero retires, another reconsiders his career, and the world says goodbye to a third.
Issue 32: Mr. Terrific’s been promising for months that the uSphere will change the world – but what happens when his promises push Manhattan to max capacity on release day? And Stormwatch finds their way back from a trip through the Multiverse – but they may not be as welcome as they thought.
Issue 33: Firestorm is back in action! But any worries that they may now be stuck together won’t matter if they’re struck down by the new Dr. Polaris! Plus: Giant monsters battle in space!
Issue 34: Thirty-five years from now, Brother Eye continues to prove that he won’t allow himself to be beaten. Five years from now, it’s clear that he may already have won.
Issue 35: The power shifts of the last few issues place on one man’s shoulders the weight of protecting the world against the threat that destroyed Stormwatch! There’s no stopping from here to the end.
Issue 36: How much will the Nth metal change Frankenstein? Will he still be the monster we all love to fear? His journey will push him to face every part of his past, even as he faces the question of his own mortality. First stop: the House of Mystery and the Justice League Dark.
Issue 37: The War changed everyone, and not for the better. After last issue’s shocking ending made one hero a murderer, find out how far Constantine went to win, and how Amethyst lost her magic! Don’t miss the return to Gemworld!
Issue 38: The fight you knew was coming since issue #12 – and you’ve been dreading since issue #23! Batman, Batman Beyond, Tim Drake, and...you know who!
Issue 39: Dr. Polaris is finally aboard the Justice League satellite, and he’ll be sure the Justice League faces the ghosts of every civilian they might’ve saved during the war, if only they didn’t consider themselves too godly to care. Also – up in the sky! It’s definitely not Superman. And it isn’t good!
Issue 40: All stories converge as Brainiac and the Blood Moon arrive at the Futures End!
Issue 41: The Justice League splits into teams to battle the dual threat of Brainiac and the Blood Moon, while the Batman team and Mr. Terrific try to take down Brother Eye – in the present and the future!
Issue 42: Will Brainiac’s arrival be the catalyst that dooms the DCU to the future seen in issue #0? Brother Eye makes his move, and humanity may become collateral damage.
Issue 43: Major fallout from last issue’s shocking demise of humanity’s one hope against apocalypse!
That’s 15 issues all hinted at. Until this point, I’ve mostly ignored the solicitations for this series. I tend to ignore solicitations in general for comics I’m already buying beyond seeing that they’re coming out and the same writer is still writing the book. After that, the text of the solicitations may or may not be read; it is almost always forgotten if it is read.
What do these teases of the future tell us? They try to be as vague as possible most of the time, posing questions and delivering broad statements that offer not specifics. “Brainiac is here!” and “The world is in peril!” allow for accurate descriptions, but don’t exactly spoil anything. Very little is actually spoiled here. We can expect: conflicts with Cadmus, Brother Eye, Brainiac, the Batman/Joker creature from 35 years in the future... none of which would surprise us. Given that this is a weekly series, the language here seems even more purposeful at avoiding specifics than the average monthly. After all, with most comics, we’d have three to six issues’ worth of solicitations to read (depending on release schedule). Hit the right time of the month and you’ve only got two issues. In this case, I’ve picked the most opportune moment to get the most solicitations possible for Futures End. 15 issues is a lot – it’s over half of what we’ve read of the series to this point! So, basically, one third of the series up until that point is laid out above. It’s actually remarkable how little of consequence they tell us.
There are some specifics that can’t help but leak through, though. From the preview images we’ve seen, it’s pretty clear that Madison will be involved with Firestorm going forward. The text of these solicitations also hint that Dr. Yamazake will become the new Dr. Polaris: the conflict with Firestorm and the grudge against the Justice League involving the ghosts of the civilians that died in the war both pointing that way. It’s easy to guess at how Madison could get mixed up with Firestorm given a barely tested teleportation unit is involved. However, how does Yamazake become the new Dr. Polaris? I assume some sort of freak accident when he’s stopped next issue. The heroes think he’s dead, but he’s now got magnetic powers or something. However, we’re closest to that story and its more immediate developments. It makes sense that its details are clearer; what about other plots?
Tim Drake will remain involved, which isn’t a surprise; however, he will get pulled towards the Batman side of things, which is to a degree. There’s been movement in that direction lately despite his involvement in that area of the story being limited, thus far, to the meeting between Terry McGinnis and the criminal trio happening at Tim’s bar. In the six-page tease of what’s to come in the book, one image made it look like Tim may even done the cowl himself. That was an image that seemed like it was more symbolic than anything, because we’ve seen that Bruce Wayne is alive 35 years from now. There’s a hint in the solicitations that Brainiac’s arrival is what allows Brother Eye to take over, but I’m wondering if we’ll also begin to see some divergence from 35 years from now future. Or, and here’s where I go off the rails big time: is that Bruce Wayne in the future? Or has Tim Drake assumed his identity? Terry mentioned Tim not being found in the historical records after the near future, presuming that he died. That it seems like Bruce in the future and his name is spoken doesn’t actually mean anything; but, would Tim be able to fool even Brother Eye? Probably not.
The mention of the Nth metal and Frankenstein raises another possible divergence from the Brother Eye future as Frankenstein has been seen there as one of the main hunters for Brother Eye and he looks unchanged (aside from Black Canary’s head in his chest). I’m beginning to wonder if the arrival of Brainiac is actually what sets things in motion to avoid that future. Given that Brainiac seems to be coming from outside space and time, maybe his attack is something that didn’t happen previously? You’d think Terry would have some idea that Brainiac is coming if it’s such a big event, right? Without Brainiac, Stormwatch isn’t destroyed and Frankenstein never comes into contact with the Nth metal. Has Brother Eye already been defeated and we just don’t know it yet?
It’s interesting that, while Brother Eye is mentioned numerous times, the conflict on Cadmus Island only gets mentioned the solicitation for issue 30 and is alluded to in issue 31. Otherwise, there’s no mention of anyone involved with that plot. Given that Brother Eye is still on the board as late as issue 42 explicitly, does that mean we already know the outcome of that conflict? I doubt it, especially given how quickly it would be over as a result. I also doubt that all of this buildup has been so Brother Eye can win; after all, there’s got to be more to Fifty Sue than this, right? The lack of those characters in the solicits points to how much is left out. If I cared enough, I’d go back and compare the solicitations for issues released and the issues themselves. In the case of this week’s issue, it’s clear that the text lines up with the cover: “It’s the battle you’ve been waiting for: Batman vs. Batman Beyond! But since Bruce taught Terry everything he knows about combat, who knows who will win?” That fight happens (and Terry wins, kind of), but also in this issue: Lois Lane arrives on Cadmus Island, Fifty Sue goes to Faraday and Rock for help, Raymond and Tim team up, Jason discovers how obsessed Yamazake is, and Yamazake prepares to test the teleportation unit on Madison. A lot is not mentioned; what we’re not told matters.
Also what matters: the word ‘converge.’ It pops up twice in this group of solicits (and is also used in the one for issue 27, to complete the batch from November). We know that Futures End is going to lead into Convergence in April and that relates to the Blood Moon, Brainiac’s world/ship where he’s bottled worlds, beings from worlds...? We don’t know a lot about that series/event yet, but does it tell us anything about the end of Futures End? We know that Futures End ends on April 1 with issue 48 (falling four short of the full year), but not much else. It looks like Convergence may happen because of the defeat of Brainiac, leaving the new character Tellos to do with the Blood Moon as he sees fit? Less a continuation of Futures End than picking up the aftermath of one of its big conflicts in a manner that stands on its own...?
I’m curious what the solicitations for March will reveal in a month’s time. We’ll be only one issue away from the end, then. We’re not even two-thirds of the way through the series and we’re already looking past it. The future never ends despite what the comic may say.