Do you like fight scenes? Then you’ll love “New 52: Futures End” #14!
Or rather, that’s what the tag line for this issue would be if we had commercials advertising the series. In a weekly, it’s a little odd that almost all of any given issue would be a series of battles, but that’s exactly what Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Dan Jurgens, Keith Giffen, Aaron Lopresti and Art Thibert serve up this time around. And as a result, the end product is wearying.
The frustrating thing is, at first, it works. The fight between Emiko, Big Barda, Deathstroke, and Fifty Sue is probably the high point of the comic. Those first few pages have some fun dialogue, even as they help establish where Emiko is in her training as the new Green Arrow. Unfortunately, it promptly leads into Plastique, the Key, Coil and Batman Beyond’s standoff, and there it just lacks any real energy. There’s also another fight on Cadmus Island, one that’s without any wit or tension. It’s too much all at once, and why some of this couldn’t have moved into the next issue (perhaps by shifting some material slated for it into this one instead) is a mystery. This is an example of group plotting gone awry.
But then again, that seems to be the problem in general with “New 52: Futures End.” Unlike its predecessor “52” (which it appears to be closely modeled upon), it comes across as a book where few of the plot threads were compared to one another and how they’d play out. Aside from a moment where Fifty Sue reacts on Cadmus Island to what happened in Montreal, they’re all operating in a void. As a result, you get a comic where it’s repeated fight scenes, rather than finding some sort of balance between the plots. One week you’ll get a fun issue that makes you feel like the book is on track, the next week it all falls apart.
Lopresti and Thibert’s art also isn’t quite up to par this week; Barda in particular looks half-finished in most of her scenes, with blank expressions and some lackluster poses. The scene in Plastique’s lair at least has a little more texture and substance to those pages, but compare it to the one-page sequence with Red Robin that immediately follows and you’ll see another example of the slightly unfinished, generic people. Maybe Lopresti and Thibert simply ran out of time, because this seems very unlike what you’d expect from either one of these seasoned professionals.
Some fans will get a little excited at the glimpses of “Earth 2” characters in the final pages of “New 52: Futures End” but it’s not enough of a lure to make this comic come together. Some issues of “New 52: Futures End” I’ve enjoyed, and others make me wonder why I’m continuing to check in on the series. Sadly, #14 falls into the latter camp.