With so few books released on the last day of 2014 coupled with the confirmation that this series ties into the upcoming "Convergence" event, "New 52: Futures End" #35 might end up with a few more readers than normal. Like the series in general, this issue -- courtesy of Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Dan Jurgens, Keith Giffen, Jesus Merino, Stephen Thompson and Dan Green -- has its highs and lows.
The high point is probably the continuing battle between the new Firestorm and the new Doctor Polaris. With most of the "New 52: Futures End" Firestorm plot involving Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch distinctly not getting along, it's actually a relief to have Madison and Jason learning how to work together as Firestorm. Jason works well as the voice of reason, and Madison's learning curve provides a good relationship for the duo even as her subconscious usage of the powers results in some amusing end results. Honestly, I'm interested enough in this plot that if DC decides to somehow move the new Firestorm into the present-day DC Universe, I'd buy a new monthly series starring this duo.
With the book's plotlines conveniently appearing in order of strength, next up is Fifty Sue and Lana Lang coming to an agreement. While Sue's often a severely annoying character, this week puts her in a place that is potentially a big step forward. I hesitate to say that she's been softened, but some of the most abrasive edges of Sue might have been filed down a touch. So far, so good.
With half of the issue to go, "New 52: Futures End" #35 unfortunately enters the world of diminishing returns. The plotline with Atom, Amethyst and Frankenstein should have contained something attention grabbing -- since it's the piece of the series that appears to connect with "Convergence" -- but instead, it's little more than a lump of exposition that involves shuffling characters from one location to another. Likewise, the fight between Batman Beyond and the enslaved-by-Brother-Eye Batman of the future has no spark, no moment to make the reader sit up and find their attention grabbed. Batman Beyond's storyline has decreased in interest more and more each issue, and this one is, sadly, no exception.
Merino, Thompson and Green's art is all perfectly fine. Like so much of the art for a weekly series in general, there's nothing that particularly stands out, thanks to the need to use multiple art teams in order to have each issue show up on time. Still, everyone looks good and there's nothing to make you cringe. Merino and Thompson's pencils move the action across in a clear and understandable manner and Thompson and Green's inks finish the job.
"New 52: Futures End" #35 is certainly one of the better issues of the series to date, but with that in mind, it could have been a lot better. Will people looking for a new comic this week find this entrancing enough to stick around for the remainder of the series? It's hard to say. If they're fans of Firestorm, this could be a tipping point. Otherwise, this is for existing readers to enjoy. The good news is that, for them, this is definitely an installment they can get behind.