Each “Futures End” title has a different relationship to its New 52 counterpart, but “Teen Titans: Futures End” might be the most divergent. It features an entirely new cast — composed of Earth-2 Klarion, Earth-2 Kid Flash, Earth-2 Tempest, Heretic and Animal Girl — and the main title’s team appears only in one mention of “the other titans, I mean…the dead ones.” Though the new team is interesting and most of the creative elements are executed capably, the dialogue, tell-don’t-show development and lackluster stakes ultimately make this a bland issue.
The story opens at a lavish party thrown by Archimedes Grant, a bajillionaire who’s using his wealth to influence politicians and exploit the immigrants from Earth-2. Writer Will Pfeifer hammers home Grant’s entitlement, corruption and cruelty without a glimmer of subtlety before having Klarion, Tempest and Kid Flash crash the party. As introductions go, this structure is actually well thought-out. Each of the three Titans gets to show off his or her powers, the reader gets a sense of the team dynamic, and party-smashing always makes for an exciting opener.
It also sets up an interesting premise for a team-up. These future Teen Titans aren’t brought together by altruism; they’re brought together by their poor treatment as Earth-2 refugees. I love the idea of a superteen team devoted to rising up against their oppressors, but unfortunately the conflict isn’t given enough time to resonate. Though Grant’s indifference to other people’s rights is shown quite clearly, his political maneuvers aren’t spelled out. The reader never sees the effects of whatever legislation he’s pushing. It’s only made clear that it’s bad — not how or why.
This is a problem throughout the issue, as the reader is told rather than shown nearly everything. Heretic and Animal Girl, who both join the team later, give full-blown manifestos of their politics and personal history. Pfeifer seems afraid that the reader will miss something, so he spells it all out. The issue does include some interesting themes — immigration, income inequality, political corruption — but wherever it includes them, it does so with too heavy a hand to say anything interesting.
Wherever the story is not obvious, it’s a bit boring. When suggesting that they team up, Kid Flash simply says, “What do we do? We team up, of course.” When they ask Klarion to “Bim Skala Bim” them out of danger, his line is, “I thought you’d never ask.” This sort of dialogue is too generic to reveal anything about the speaker.
The blandness of the dialogue is doubly disappointing because the character designs and ideas seem promising. Andy Smith and Keith Champagne present some interesting designs, particularly for Kid Flash and Klarion (who’s now more dressed for Easter Sunday than Puritan Sabbath). Smith also handles the action well, particularly when Animal Girl attacks Grant. Admittedly, colorist Matt Yackey’s colors do feel a bit too sun-bleached, almost early ’90s, but they’re not distracting.
All this said, while I complain about the obviousness and lack of character development here, I recognize that much of that is beyond the creative team’s control. In a single issue, they need to establish the team, the villain, the conflict and the new status quo. It’s a Herculean task for any one-shot, even more so for a one-shot whose contents have so little relation to the main story. Given the constraints, “Teen Titans Futures End” #1 is not a bad comic; it’s just not a compelling one.