"The New 52: Futures End" #48 ends the series but leaves the story wide open and with no solid conclusion. Written by Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Dan Jurgens and Keith Giffen with a battalion of artists in Allan Goldman, Freddie Williams II, Andy MacDonald, Stephen Thompson and Scott Hanna, this comic checks in on a few characters that were integral to the series but fails to deliver any true sense of closure.
The "new" Batman Beyond finds himself in a picturesque garden that loses its beauty quickly, becoming a death trap and then a path to salvation. The action in the story is packed into smaller panels and never really feels big, while the final page reveal is unsurprising.
That said, I don't know what would have been surprising for this series. Azzarello, Lemire, Jurgens and Giffen never seemed to quite find their stride. There were some great ideas and some hollow ones, some dynamic scenes and some instantly forgettable moments. Most comic book series would tend to follow that same recipe, I suppose, but this was supposed to be an event, leading readers to a new future filled with wonder and awe, awesomeness and spectacle. Really, all we got were some costumes shifting and red skies. In that regard, colorist Hi-Fi gives readers some of the most gorgeous red skies to ever shine above a DC Comics event. Hi-Fi holds the story together, given the disparate styles of Goldman, Williams, MacDonald and Thompson.
The art itself is a mixed bag, just as this series has been: some great stuff, some decent stuff, some forgettable stuff and some stuff that really could have been better. Thompson's work is refined and realistic, fitting for the final scene and reminiscent of Phil Winslade's work. MacDonald serves as nice transition between Williams' overly animated style and Thompson's work, managing to eke out a Cully Hamner vibe in more than a few of his panels. Allan Goldman turns in the cleanest work of the issue and provides a nice peek into the "what could have beens" of the story itself.
It's rough to find fault in the series for not living up to expectations, but the expectations themselves got a little more slippery as the cast expanded. "The New 52: Futures End" #48 fills space and marks time but never really feels substantial, even in regards to the characters who have darn near an entire issue of spotlight. Other than two characters reuniting and the story left hanging, this was rather unsatisfying and left me ambivalent towards the next event, "Convergence." Too bad DC has left us no time to reflect on this prior to serving up the next one.