There is little place for joy, or excitement, or even wonder, in the pages of Robert Venditti, Van Jensen and Brett Booth’s “The Flash: Futures End #1.” Like much of this event, the creators and editors shove the reader into a violent future full of tragedy and shocking reveals. It makes for a frustrating read, plot points happening because something has to happen between large chunks of expository dialogue provided by the Flash of the future — a Flash from the future of “Futures End.”
Future future Flash has come back to our future, his past, to stop the death of Iris and Wally West. To do so, he is compelled to kill Danny West, the future Reverse Flash, so stop this terrible tragedy from coming to pass. Future Flash arrives just in time to see Future future Flash rescuing the Wests and immediately ignores the dead body on the ground, opting instead to volunteer to help his future self stop whatever other terrible crime he himself has come back in time to prevent. Future future Flash, however, likes working alone and attacks Future Flash, the resulting backlash causing an energy explosion that gives young Wally the powers of the future Kid Flash. Then, the book titles “Futures End” ends on a cliffhanger.
The motivations of the characters in this book felt forced at best, baffling at the worst. Readers aren’t given a reason as to why Future future Flash needs to kill future Reverse Flash. It’s insinuated that the Wests’ deaths were an accident — why not try to talk to Danny about this? He seems to be the more reasonable of the two in this encounter. Or, if you move at super speed, fix the road first, or lead him away from where the tragedy will take place? When future Flash arrives he sees the dead body of one of his arch nemeses on the ground, and almost immediately doesn’t care. Barry Allen has been established as a man of principal and conviction; it seems hardly within character that he would leave a dead body lying in the streets to rush off and help a future version of himself do a nebulous act of superheroism. Future future Flash, again, decides for no reason that future Flash shouldn’t help him, and instead of explaining that, attacks future Flash. Not only does he attack him, but he shows none of the intelligence or inquisition of the man that is supposedly him in the past. If this is not Barry, fine, but then why is Barry so easily fooled? This is exactly the kind of confusing and forced storytelling that is bred by these looks into dystopian futures. I am genuinely surprised this story is co-credited to Robert Venditti, the same writer that delivers an incredible balance of action and character development each month in “X-O Manowar.” The story slams forward the whole time, moving so fast that nothing resonates. The saving grace is the actual introduction of Wally West as a Flash. He doesn’t show up in costume, or see much more than a single display of his new powers, but this is a question that had been lingering in the minds of Flash fans for some time.
Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund provide kinetic, high octane art befitting a comic book about the fastest man alive. The action is frentic and the layouts almost become a whilrwind unto themselves during each Flash clash, panels warping and shifting around the page. There’s a lot of smoke and wreckage in the book, leaving us with little idea of what Central City will look like five years hence but the characters and foreground all crackle with energy and exaggerated expression, creating a sense of movement where none would be.
Venditti and co-writer Van Jensen use this book to further the plot of the present era, though it feels like a confusing trip to get there. Future future Flash will be dishing out even more problems for current Flash fairly soon, and though those adventures may be promising, I can’t recommend reading the tale that took him to the present day.