10 Worst Things About Futures End pt 2

Number 5
Weakly Weekly

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Weekly comics are weird. I think it’s a neat idea, but so rarely does it actually ever work. In fact, I did a bit of digging and the aforementioned 52 was just about the only proper weekly series I could think of that worked. It took advantage of the weekly series, had a solid creative team and plot, and the whole thing is just so awesome.

Here, it does Future’s End no favours. Not only does it pump out the story at an incredibly difficult pace for even more dedicated readers to follow, especially if they have lives or go on vacations – but it also causes so many of the problem we’ve talked about – the length, the boredom, the pointlessness – as well as other problems like the overall rushed feeling behind the entire event – or the fact that there’s a lot of pointless nonsense going on that’s basically just filler to pad out the run time in this thing. Did you know Constantine is in this story? If anyone wants to tell me why in the comments I will be happy to read them and well, still not care.

[Related: Top 10 New 52 Choices DC Wants You To Forget]

There’s also two other time periods I haven’t bothered to mention yet and a bunch of Earth 2 nonsense because… I-I don’t even know. I am borderline certain the story wasn’t paced out properly. The writers probably just had an outline of what they wanted to do and wrote as they went along, or something, because that’s the only explanation I can think of for the nutty way this story reads. It starts out awful with issue #0, then it actually has a decent start, then it goes completely off the rails until by the end I just want the pain to stop. Please, please make it stop. These awful people won’t go away and it’s just issue after issue of sheer garbage. Weekly stories have to be very carefully planned out to work, and like I said, it’s only ever been done right once, outside of miniseries. Future’s End fails as a comic in general, and I strongly suspect a big part of that is the weekly nature of this comic.

Number 4


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So speaking of too much terrible material, let’s talk about the tie-ins. You might not be surprised to hear that there are too many tie-ins to this thing, even if each tie-in is only one issue long. How is that even possible? Well for one thing, every stupid series running at the time, no matter how tangentially involved, had a tie-in. Already we have a disaster brewing since it makes the story big and sprawling, beyond hope. Worse still, the tie-ins are all over the place – taking place in different time periods and in different levels of engagement with the main story – sometimes featuring important content with regards to the ongoing stories and other times having nothing to do with the regular content of the series in question.
Let’s pick some at random to show what I mean. Some are good, like Batman’s tie-in, which pretty much stands nicely on its own and I found super entertaining. Others make no sense to me at all, like the Suicide Squad or Wonder Woman tie-in, while still others at least satisfied certain fan desires in me to see old characters in action missing from the New 52 like with Batgirl’s tie-in.

None of them felt terribly important to the main story of Future’s End although a few had some interesting little details. They add remarkably little and often made no sense. Remember this was at a time when DC had just restarted their entire continuity, and these tie-ins were supposed to take place in another time period entirely. So casual readers who weren’t caught up on things have no means to know what is supposed to be established in the New 52, and what are the weird changes in the future. Reading through a series and stumbling on to these tie-ins is a serious derailment of the series. Thankfully, they don’t mess with the series numbering, small blessings there, but if you were following series month to month like I was when Future’s End first came out, it still was yet another massive roadblock in understanding the New 52 for an ENTIRE MONTH of DC publications.

That’s insane, incredibly hard to handle for the average reader, and leads us nicely to my next point.

Number 3

I don’t understand anything anymore

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Do you know the amount of times I have, in the process of going through Future’s End, say back and wondered what the hell was going on? What am I reading? Why is everything so complicated? The baffling part about Future’s End is that it takes a relatively simple premise – bad stuff happens in the future and someone travels back in time to fix it – like, it’s literally the plot of Days of Future Past mixed in with Age of Ultron – and balloons that idea into the most complicated execution of an old idea I have ever seen.

This sort of thing typically has two time periods – the bad future and the present. That’s easy to follow and has worked many times before, including in the film version of Days of Future Past, various episodes of sci-fi, and in all sorts of stories and comics before and since then. But no, Future’s End opts instead to have like seven different time periods. There’s present day New 52, which actually matters the least, for some reason. Then we have the bad future ruled by Brother Eye, the regular future where Batman Beyond takes place, the five years in the future where Future’s End takes place, another future shown at the end of the story (which might just be the same bad future as before), five years in the future of Future’s End, for some reason, and the near future of New 52. Technically there’s even an eighth time period, arguably, depending on how you view the whole Earth 2 situation.

[Related: Top 10 Over Powered Batman Suits And Armors]

It’s actually insane, and a story that should be relatively simple to follow becomes terribly executed because of it. With the tie-ins adding further confusion coupled with the dragged out nature of the weekly series, the whole thing is a mess on a level I rarely see in big events like this. The inability to tell a straightforward story almost amuses me, but more than anything it just makes me feel tired. I’m sure I could sit down and figure out all the stupid little details and plot beats, but why bother? Why should anyone care? This isn’t knowledge that might be useful later, and it certainly isn’t fun or rewarding figuring all this nonsense out. So who is this story for? Fans of action will be disappointed by the repetitive, endless nature of Brother Eye, as our heroes basically just battle the same waves of enemies, or a series of overly complicated drama going on in the main series I still don’t really get the point of or even the full story behind.

We haven’t even touched on Green Arrow faking his death and working with Earth 2 Red Arrow to do… something on Earth 2? And Earth 2’s relevance to this story is… unclear to me, as well. I think it has something to do with Brother Eye becoming evil, maybe? Also Grifter is there, he’s important, I think. And um, Brainiac is involved. Somehow.

This whole thing just makes my head hurt. Making sense of this is a fool’s errand. And I’m rapidly running out of patience for it.

Number 2

An incredible cast gone to waste

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You know who I love? Terry McGuinness. Batman Beyond is awesome. Tim Drake is awesome. Constantine is a great DC character – one of the best, if you ask me. Lois Lane, Firestorm, Frankenstein, Grifter, and Mister Terrific all have roles in this story too, and are superb characters, one and all.

So how the hell did Future’s End take a great cast and flush them down the toilet? It baffles me and has a lot to do with everything we talked about. The improperly written and paced story means that some characters have full arcs that are completely useless. Lois exists solely in this story to move the plot along. In fact, so much of this story opts for exposition and pointless dialogue over meaningful character development I don’t get why they bothered using any of these characters at all.

A central tenant of writing is that you should always use characters that fit the story in question. You want Batman in your story? Great – but you need to have a reason to use him. If his role could be filled by anyone, then there’s no need to use Batman. Future’s End absolutely blunders this time and time again. The key phrase here is “wasted opportunities” because it happens over and over in this mess of a series. Batman Beyond travels back in time – that’s cool! But he only really deals with Tim Drake. No Batman, no Bat Family characters, just the one.

Now, granted, they do some cool things with Terry and Tim, but that is by no means par for the course, here. Most other characters I have mentioned have silly roles in Future’s End that amount to little more than prolonged cameos, revealing little about the characters we didn’t know already and just festering in a series of empty plot points that go nowhere. Do you know what I would give for a good, company-wide crossover with Terry McGuinness headlining the whole damn thing? Do you know how disappointing it is not to get that whatsoever? It hurts to think about it. This is one of my favourite characters finally given a role front and centre in the DC universe… and this is what we got. God damn it DC. It’s easy to forget and forgive now that Rebirth is awesome, but it’s stories like these that remind me just how bad the New 52 really could be.

Number 1
The death of talent

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You may have noticed up until now I have avoided talking about the writers and artists behind this thing. I’ve been saving it all up for here, but boy, this part really bothers me. Future’s End has four writers behind it – Brian Azarello, Jeff Lemire, Dan Jurgens, and Keith Giffen – all writers I do normally enjoy and have impressive resumes overall. None of them are perfect, sure, but they are all talented in their own right, and Jeff Lemire in particular stands out as one of the better current writers over at Marvel these days.

Meanwhile, the entire series and tie-ins boast a virtual army of writers and artists – including just about every creative team employed by DC at the time thanks to the tie-ins and nature of the weekly series. It was a big, collaborative project involving some of the very best people in the industry at the time. So what went wrong? How did all this talent seemingly curl up in a ball and die?

Without a doubt, a big part of this is due to the climate within DC at the time. This all occurred during a period, where, by all accounts, DC was taking an overly and detrimentally aggressive approach to it’s editing. I guarantee that most if not the vast majority of the talent that worked on Future’s End was basically forced to. Don’t get me wrong, nobody had a gun pointed to their head, but you better believe if they wanted to keep working at DC they had to play ball. So, some writers and artists phoned their work in. Others probably didn’t understand what they were doing, exactly, and just sort of fumbled their way through their tie-ins or work in the main series.

You can tell on almost every page and panel that there isn’t a lot of creative spark or energy behind a lot of this series. Not all of it, to be sure. Batman and Batgirl’s tie-ins might be some of the better single issues to come out of the entire New 52. And, in spite of my criticism, it is worth noting the main series really does have some cool and smart moments peppered throughout, especially at the beginning and end of the story.

But these are small beans that don’t discount the largely problems. The writers clearly didn’t have enough story to fit a weekly series and their attempts to hide that are transparent at best, non-existent at worst. So Future’s End becomes a dumpster fire where talent goes to die. Good people churned out mediocre work, because the story is flawed and the publication strategy was not through through properly. The blame for all this likely stems at the hands of the editorial team and this individual, as always, but regardless of who is responsible, the effect is the same.

Talent was snuffed out in this comic. Stamped into the ground so thoroughly it’s easy to forget that Azzarello, Lemire, and the others can craft stories so much better than this in their sleep, normally. Something went horribly wrong within Future’s End. And while I think we can kind of glean some of what went wrong, and I hope you have through this Top 10, I don’t think we’ll ever know exactly what happened here.

This is one of those stories that doesn’t suffer from a handful of flaws. It feels like it suffers from every flaw a crossover can get. It tries too hard to be dark and gritty. There are too many tie-ins. The story doesn’t end, in plot terms or just by it’s seemingly never ending issue run. Everything that could go wrong, did, and so the story just eeks problem after problem. To be honest, this is kind of the tip of the iceberg. We didn’t really get into the nitty gritty of the story, or the gimmicky 3D covers, because there’s no time, and those things felt like small problems compared to the bigger things like the story not making any damn sense.
No matter how you cut it, or excuse it, or ignore the flaws, all I see in Future’s End is a mess. One of the worst examples of a modern event in recent memory or just in general, I’m going to go ahead and not recommend you check out Future’s End for yourself. I know, shocking right.

I will say this. This was a Patreon request, and special thanks to Jeremy Renfro for making it. I think I’ve been sitting on my grievances for this story for some time, probably since Future’s End first came out, and I’m glad I finally got to air my deep-sated problems with this awful, terrible, no good, very bad crossover. So thanks for watching this video! If you want a say in the content we make, or see how you can make priority requests through Patreon, you should check out our page to see how you can support us making more videos like this. And, finally, don’t forget to like, subscribe, and keep reading comics.

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