Writers Brian Azzarello, Keith Giffen, Dan Jurgens and Jeff Lemire limit “The New 52: Futures End” #23 to four scenes, which works to the benefit of this issue’s flow as well as the progression of those individual escapades. Inked by Art Thibert, Aaron Lopresti brings readers a consistently solid twenty pages with a nice array of characters and settings.
The settings for the four scenes in “Futures End” #23 aren’t elaborate, but Lopresti provides sufficient detail for each location and certainly propels each character into the forefront of each. Deep space in the Huron star system and Central Park in New York City five years from now, Manhattan thirty years after that and back to five years from now in Las Vegas are those scenes, and the characters Lopresti has a chance to draw range from a gigantic Brainiac to a revenge-obsessed Black Adam. Along the way, Lopresti delivers some surprises, like a sword-swinging Atom and a Brother Eye-fused villain-hero composite that no reader could have possibly expected to see.
Hi-Fi’s colors are on task, grounding “The New 52: Futures End” #23 in a bold universe and unifying all four chapters in this installment. The red skies of the far-flung, thirty-five year future, the luminosity from the magic lightning called down by Black Adam and the eerie glow surrounding all of Brother Eye’s machinations are subtle color additions that Hi-Fi brings to this issue to augment the creepy uneasiness pervading throughout. Taylor Esposito’s lettering is equally strong, from the variant word balloons for the surprise villain appearance to Brother Eye’s measured, electronic inquiries.
The end result is the most cohesive issue of “Futures End” yet. True, “Futures End” #23 only touches four of the storylines from this series, but those four pieces provide enough to secure readers’ attention and provide a variety of story flavors. Deep space checks in with Amethyst, Hawkman, Frankenstein, Ray Palmer and the recently returned Black Adam. Central Park updates readers on Ronnie Raymond and Tim Drake, while the Las Vegas segment spends time with Voodoo, but also checks in with the “Futures End” premiere of a rock-steady sergeant. Extreme future Manhattan kicks back to the beginning of this series and sews in some connectivity to span the twenty-three weeks in between.
There aren’t a whole lot of payoffs in “Futures End” #23, but this issue has a whole lot more vim and vigor than I’ve noticed in previous issues. Each of the storylines notches a little time in and marks some forward progress in their evolution, while the crisp artwork from Lopresti, Thibert and Hi-Fi does everything it can to hold the readers’ attention. The stories in “Futures End” seem poised to turn a corner. Here’s hoping for more excitement and energy as the series continues towards whatever end is intended.