DC’s Failed Epic Event – Top 10 Worst Things About Futures End

Number 10

Futures End #0

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Our list begins with the very first issue of this event, actually.  This issue, released on Free Comic Book Day, kicked the event off all the way back in 2014.  It was… well, in short, this is the worst Free Comic Book Day comic I have EVER read.  I’m not kidding or exaggerating in the slightest.  This is the absolute worst.  I remember vividly reading this thing and just HATING it.  Ostensibly setting things up and getting us pumped for what was supposed to be a big, fun event in the early, naive days of New 52, Futures End #0 is instead a gross, ugly comic that at the time it came out instantly turned me off of this entire event.

Coming back to it for this video, I knew I wasn’t going to have a good time with this story, and of course, starting things off with this stupid comic brought all those terrible memories right back to me.  Futures End #0 begins in the future, um, of Batman Beyond.  So farther into the future of Batman Beyond which is already in the future.  Yeah, this whole event is confusing as hell, and we’re just getting started.  Anyhow, we see a nightmare future future where all the DC heroes have been turned into techno-abominations serving the series’ main villain, Brother Eye.  It… sucks.  Do you want to see your favourite heroes dying and turning into cyborg abominations – mindless, killing husks of their former selves?  Don’t answer yes to that, you psychopaths!  That’s terrible, and look awful this is!  It’s depressing as hell, and trying, so, so, hard to be dark, gritting and cool (and failing terribly by making that very effort!)

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Anyhow, Terry is one of the last survivors of this nightmare and manages to escape back in time, and the whole plot is basically this – Batman Beyond from the future travelling back in time to New 52’s near future, five years from the main universe’s then present day (but not the present day of the comics at the time, nor is this the current future of DC’s world) and trying to stop his nightmare reality from coming to pass.  Sound confusing? It should.

This unnecessarily complicated premise coalesces into Futures End #0, a grotesque horror that could have worked as a big, shocking prologue to draw the reader in, and instead sent me running as far away from this damn thing as I could the first time I read it.  Ethan Van Sciver, a perfectly fine artist who is doing his best here is given terrible material to draw and his art is just so gross in this comic because of it.  All our beloved heroes are twisted and enslaved, everything sucks, and it is just… ugly.

Ugly in what the art is depicting.  Ugly in the action and what they are doing to these characters.  Ugly in starting things off in a pretty unoriginal way.  Ugly in its design, function, and form.  It’s horrifying, and while it did draw some people in, I think many would look at this series of used toilet paper tissues bound together and called a comic book, and never want to read a superhero comic again.

There’s so much wrong with Future’s End #0.  It tries so hard yet fails so miserably.  It could have been a good start – a shocking intro and a reason for us to want to avoid this future as much as possible and to give this story weight and urgency, but in the end, it’s just doesn’t quite do that.  You can see right through this story, so instead, it’s a terrible start to an event that in my opinion, never got any better.


Number 9

It’s way too long

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There is some irony in me saying this, but Futures End, well, never ends.  With 49 comics in the main series and a shocking 41 tie-in comics, Futures End has the publication span and focus few writers would ever dream of, with a grand total of 90 comics covering this thing, at least by my count.  That’s an insane amount of content for one story, and, of course, that works against this comic’s favour.  How could it not with that much material crammed into a story that, when we get right down to it, doesn’t offer much to begin with.

While I’ve read stuff that long which theoretically all ties together as one series, anything like that is far more entertaining than Futures End ever managed to be, and even then, it’s broken up into far more easily digested parts.  A big aspect of this is that in media, it matters more how long an even feels rather how long it actually is.  Take the story 52, another weekly comic published several years ago now.  That ran for well over 52 issues when you consider various tie-in content, but that never felt long.  It’s a subjective thing, sure, but it is very real.  For example, I can watch The Dark Knight and the time will fly by like it was nothing.  It doesn’t matter how long it is because it’s so entertaining and fun I don’t notice or care about the length.  The story sucks you in and you lose track of time in the best way possible.  However, sit me in front of Micheal Bay’s Pearl Harbour, and time suddenly stops.  Every painstaking moment feels like it goes on forever.  The space-time continuum collapses, and suddenly, a movie that’s allegedly three hours long is actually longer than the entire duration of the Second World War because when it comes to pacing Micheal Bay is basically the film maker equivalent of a goddam heart attack!

Future’s End is pretty much the Pearl Harbour of comics.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  There are a couple of fun issues, especially in the tie-ins, but overall, it’s just one big, stinky mess.  And it drags on forever because of it.  While we’ll talk further about why that is, shortly, a big part of the problem is that the comics are so boring and mediocre that the insane length of this series is felt throughout the entire damn thing.

There’s nothing wrong with having a big story like this that goes on for a while.  It’s when the comic gets bad that suddenly the horrible length of this comic becomes a major problem and set back.  The bad and the boring drag on forever to the point that it becomes offensive. Futures End would have been a lot less annoying if it were just a standard set of tie-ins with a shorter miniseries that only lasted a handful of issues.  Hell, I might even have liked it or would at least tolerate it more if they had the decency to do something like that.  Being mindful that more issues also means that more comics are sold and die hard fans feel obligated to buy all these issues, I strongly suspect this story was dragged out far, far longer than what a natural run time would be for what should be a relatively simple time travelling adventure.  DC didn’t opt for that, and oh, how Future’s End suffered because of it.


Number 8

Time Travel SUCKS!  (sometimes)

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Hey, do you know what I love but have never talked about on this channel before?  Doctor Who!  And while we’re certainly not going to get into it here, it’s a fun series I’ve been really digging over the last few years.  I also like shows such as Futurama, and movies like the Back to the Future trilogy.  My point being that time travel isn’t inherently bad… it just needs to be used… selectively.

It works in shows like Doctor Who and Futurama by making it a core feature of both series.  It works in a lot of other sci-fi shows because they lend themselves well to the material and, with good writers, can make for lovely storytelling.  You can have fun with the premise like they did in all the Back to the Future movies, or make a serious point with it, which has been done as far back as the writing of H. G. Wells.  There’s nothing wrong with time travel… except sometimes there is.

Here’s an example.  Some of you are no doubt fans of a little show called Rick and Morty.  I am also a fan of this show.  If you haven’t seen it before, I highly recommend it, but for those who have seen it, you might notice there aren’t any episodes featuring time travel.  They’ve done other stuff with time, sure, but it’s very unlikely you’ll ever see Rick and Morty travel through time because series co-creator Justin Roiland kind of hates time travel as a premise.

In short he finds the idea kind of dumb and stories that use time travel are… well, kind of dumb because of it. Now, obviously, Roiland still has a lot of love for stories with time travel in them.  You don’t base your main characters on Doc Brown and Marty McFly for no reason.  But I do think on some level, Roiland is really on to something.  A lot of time travel stories are pretty dumb.  Now, most stories get away with this by not taking itself too seriously or by just glossing over dumb rules about causation and all that nonsense – instead just focusing on character work, storytelling, interesting sci-fi concepts or just putting on fun costumes and making jokes about history.

A key factor in this seems to boil down to time travel being flawed because it is inherently paradoxical.  In some ways it should be impossible, since, if, say, Terry wanted to travel back in time to stop the future from happening, he shouldn’t be able to.  Because any action he commits in the past that undo the future will prevent the situation where Terry travels back in time in the first place.

That’s a huge problem in a story that wants to be taken seriously, and believe me, Futures End wants nothing more than for you to take it at least somewhat seriously.  At it’s core, Futures End is based on time travel and is kind of deeply flawed because of it.  Much like the story it is… we’ll generously say, similar to, Age of Ultron suffers from these same damn problems.  Time Travel is flawed… and also kind of cheap.

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It should come as no surprise to you that the entirety of this story is basically undone by the plot itself.  Much like Age of Ultron, Futures End takes advantage of the time travel premise as a convenient tool for the writers to do anything they want without having to worry about consequences, and therefore, there is nothing that matters in this story.  It was all for nothing, nobody will remember this ever even happened, and the story goes on like it was all for naught.  You can easily skip Futures End and not miss a single damn thing in the New 52.  And as a story and event in the New 52, that makes Futures End practically irrelevant.

I will give the story credit – I actually do like one element of this ending… sort of.  See, we find out at the end after all the attempts to stop Brother Eye, they can’t actually defeat it with time travel, so instead Time Drake becomes the new Batman in the far, far future and leads a resistance.  That was a neat twist and change from the typical time travel formula, but, well, can you not see the problem with that?  How irrelevant that makes Future’s End?

I hear from fans all the time that still somehow think the various futures presented in Future’s End are the ingrained futures of DC comics to this day.  Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.  I have never heard a loftier or more naive notion in the comic book community in recent memory.  You think DC cares?  You think this future matters, is a firm direction the company will take?  No, the very premise of this story guarantees they can easily hand wave everything in Future’s End away.  It is the epitome of pointlessness.  Nothing matters, by design.  The time travel prevents this story from having meaning because it essentially undoes itself.  Now that could be okay, if we were to have a story that was just for fun, or showing us some weird alternate reality or future.  Does this look fun to you?  Are we having fun yet?


Number 7

Brother Eye is boring (especially here)

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So here’s something I think is almost a given with this stinker.  Brother Eye sucks.  He is a lousy, boring, and completely unoriginal villain.  In Future’s End he’s a pale, unoriginal pastiche of the Borg, Ultron, and every generic robotic villain created since those two.  The only thing of note with the villain that I kind of find cool is the idea that Brother Eye or OMAC or whatever he’s called is a creation of Batman.

That’s kind of interesting, not that it hasn’t been done before.  Look I don’t want to bang on this too much, but the amount of resemblance between Age of Ultron and Future’s End really shouldn’t be underestimated.  In going over this story, it’s amazing to me how similar these two big comic events are, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Future’s End came so closely on the heels of Age of Ultron.  What’s amusing about this is that the many flaws of Age of Ultron are also present in Future’s End because of it.

Ultron and by similarity and association, Brother Eye are potentially interesting villains but only when handled properly.  Improperly, they are boring, repetitive villains that tend to rely on numbers swarming the heroes in endless, stale, repetitive fights.  It’s just panel after panel of the same stupid robot fights.  Age of Ultron was bad enough in this regard, now imagine extending it by well over four times the amount of issues, and striping away any cool nostalgia or fun that Ultron may present, and we essentially have Future’s End.  A boring story with a boring villain.

And yes, I know Brother Eye wasn’t the real, ultimate villain of Future’s End.  Don’t worry.  We’ll get to that… right now, actually.


Number 6

Future’s End is utterly pointless

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I struggle to understand what this comic is for.  Stories can have many purposes, after all.  Is it entertaining?  I think you know how I feel about that, by now, and going forward.  Is it insightful?  Ha, no.  It’s about as insightful and nuanced as, well, the Micheal Bay comparison once again comes to mind.  Does it add something new or important to the ongoing DC cannon?  Well, technically yes.  So here we get to the ending of Future’s End and the big spoiler, if you care.  So, after all the dust settles in this story, it turns out that Brother Eye, or OMAC, or his little machine buddies, or whatever, they were all puppets for Brainiac all along.   Specifically this Brainiac – you know, the idiot failure of a villain from the Convergence event that would come out a year later?

Yes, with the exception of a few fun characters, moments, and tie-ins, that is the sole purpose I can discern for all ninety issues of Future’s End.  A set up for another, also terrible overblown crossover event.  As mentioned, the time travelly nature of Future’s End doesn’t help matters since the ending also basically outright states that everything we go through in this story is for naught.  The future isn’t changed, but it still is irrelevant going forward, because, and this is worth repeating, there is no way that DC feels committed to the future established in this story, on any level.  Rebirth alone gives the company ample excuse to just pretend this whole mess never happened, and you better believe this whole thing may as well have never happened at this point.  They do not care.  This story doesn’t matter.  So any consequences that might spiral out of this event are non-existent – there is no greater point or purpose behind Future’s End.  It is here to get your money and do little else.  At least Age of Ultron introduced some changes to the Marvel universe when it ended.  They were superficial and weird changes, but at least they were there.  Future’s End opts not to do that.  It’s amazing how little it does with so much content in general.

In some ways, it makes me feel so sad.  I often think about what a proper creative team could do if they took their time and really put some effort into this thing.  That many comics could have led to so much creative storytelling.  Instead we got this.  What an utter waste.


UP NEXT: 10 Worst Things About Futures End Pt 2

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