DC Comics’ special 2-month break in continuity didn’t leave the best first impression. The second week of the big event comes across a little bit better, but things are still way too bleak.
While I only picked up 4 of the 6 Future State titles in WEEK ONE, I picked up all 7 related issues for its sophomore outing. This will be the first of two posts looking at the second week. Part two will look at the Superman-related books, while we’ll deal with the non-Super books here.
In case you were wondering, the future is still a pretty bleak place. Our heroes are no longer heroes and the world seems to be a pretty dark and desolate place. One of these days, someone should pitch a future of the DC Comics universe where everyone is happy and things are going well, just to offer up something different.
I mean, what’s the point of having superheroes in the present if the future always seems to go off the rails?
As we saw in The Next Batman last week, everyone thought Bruce Wayne – and the original Batman – was dead, leading to someone new taking over the mantle of the Bat. But here, in a story written by Mariko Tamaki, we see that the reports of Bruce Wayne’s death were greatly exaggerated. He’s no longer rich, he’s no longer powerful and he’s no longer Batman, but he’s still alive and trying to figure out how to take down the Magistrate, the organization that took over Gotham and made masked heroes public enemies.
And, apparently, Bruce Wayne helped the Magistrate come to power.
I enjoy Tamaki’s writing, and the story was good, though the idea that Bruce Wayne could be still alive and unnoticed in a world where there’s technology everywhere is a little weird. The concept overall fell a little flat, in my opinion.
On the other hand, the Grifter back-up story – where the former Wildstorm character teams with Luke Fox to escape the clutches of the Magistrate – was fun. Though it does feel like it confuses a bit of the continuity from The Next Batman. But the timelines of all of these books are all over the place, so who knows what stories take place when.
Continuing on in Gotham City, Tim Drake is now all alone as Robin. Dick Grayson is locked away in Arkham (more on Nightwing later); Bruce Wayne is thought to be dead; and Jason Todd betrayed everyone. Without any allies, Drake is trying to take down the Magistrate on his own, and prevent them from getting some Lazarus Resin, material from Ra’s al Ghul’s Lazarus Pits that will make the cyborgs unkillable.
Thankfully, he ends up getting some help from ex-girlfriend Stephanie Brown and a member of the We Are Robin team. But the assistance doesn’t keep the robots from flicking Drake off of them and snapping his spine in two.
Seriously, the future sucks all around.
We’re told that the Lazarus Resin has no known effects on humans, but it clearly heals Tim Drake, as he gets up in a classic Rocky Balboa moment.
The Gotham-centric books we’ve seen in the first two weeks have given us a very bleak view of Gotham City. And that place was already a pretty grim town before the future set in. Seriously, someone should sit Bruce Wayne down and convince him that he can do a LOT more good for Gotham City by giving the city half of his fortune for urban renewal than he can by pummeling criminals.
Remember when Tim Drake said Grayson was locked away in Arkham? Well, he’s not in this issue, which may or may not take place before the action in Robin Eternal. Instead of aligning with the Future State Bat-books, Titans seems to be lining up with The Flash, as we find out it wasn’t just Famine that took over one of the heroes (Wally West), but all of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The future Titans team is looking for ways to save their friends and the world. But the team is a little fractured after Titans Tower was blown all to hell.
And Cyborg and Beast Boy were combined into Cybeast. Beast Borg. Really, it depends on which one of them is talking at the moment.
After spending the issue bickering with Starfire, Grayson goes and releases Red X from Titans prison to help him and he puts on a costume very reminiscent of Deathstroke. We also get the reveal that Dick Grayson was the first to call himself Red X (as he did in the Teen Titans cartoon), and this new one (whoever it is) was using it to send a message when he felt one of his Titans Academy classmates was being railroaded by the Titans. Maybe all of this is what sends Grayson to Arkham.
Just to hit home that things suck all over, the Central Power Battery is out. The Green Lantern Corps is dead, because their rings no longer work. So instead of being an intergalactic police force with the most powerful weapon in the universe, John Stewart is leading Salaak, G’Nort and others as a de-powered peacekeeping force. Stewart and his team are fighting for their lives to help a beleaguered civilization survive, but they’re being overrun.
While the main story really didn’t do anything for me, once again, the back-ups helped to raise the quality of the issue. First, Now-former Green Lantern Jessica Cruz is stranded on a Lantern outpost in the middle of space as Yellow Lanterns arrive to make it their own, leaving the former agoraphobic alone to take out killers in the void. While I never really had an opinion of Jessica, this story was done well, keeping the character’s history while adding a little development that made sense.
And then there’s Guy Gardner, making the best of being stranded on an alien world. With two politically-divided factions butting heads, Guy comes in to be the voice of reason (yeah, I know, but it works here) to unite them. In doing that, he becomes a prophet who both sides follow.
And then Lobo shows up. And I really want to see where this goes.
Either one of the back-up stories would have been a fantastic main focus for the Green Lantern book, and that leaves me wondering how new Green Lantern writer Geoffrey Thorne, who wrote the Stewart section, is going to do when the INFINITE FRONTIER comes around in March. It doesn’t really bode well, but maybe we shouldn’t take these odd, tonally dysfunctional issues as a measuring stick.
Once again, the Future State stories work well with the lesser-known characters, because you can have a little more freedom with them. But the main stories continue to struggle. The grim and gritty futures are draining and I really hope we can get some brightness out of these four-colored heroes sometime soon.
Maybe we’ll have better luck with the next grouping of week 2 books, which includes Justice League, Kara Zor-El, Superwoman and Superman/Wonder Woman.