Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Review: Justice League United Futures End

Since the inception of the New 52 in September of 2011,  September has been DC's big month. We had zero month, a jump on 'origin' issue in 2012. We had 'Villains' month' in 2013. And this year, it is the 'Futures End' month, single issues looking forward 5 years at the title characters, a peek into a future that won't happen. 

Unfortunately, unlike the other Septembers, I have very little interest in this one. Where an origin issue or a story focused on a rogue might grab my interest and make me try a new title, a look at a future timeline that won't happen, in a dystopian future, in a story that has to be one issue long is no lure. Unless the public sentiment is that the issue is a can't miss or if it stars Steph Brown, I doubt I'll be picking up any titles that aren't on my pull list.

But even for the titles I do collect, I have wondered what these issues will add.

Justice League United Futures End #1 was a good issue to showcase what these issues might add to the present timeline. Five years hence, the JLU no longer exists. This isn't that team's book. But what this book does give us is a look at Equinox and her power set, seeing who she may become as she matures as a hero. And we hear snippets of what has occurred in that 5 year gap. So I guess the question is will some of these hints of the future come to fruition? Are these the fruits of future plotlines that that writer Jeff Lemire has yet to seed? If that is true, then maybe these issues are intriguing.

Jed Dougherty is on art here. His style is different from Mike McKone's, more like a thicker lined Frank Quitely.

As I said, the star of this book is Equinox.

We get a nice little opening adventure where she battles someone named the Polargeist. He appears to be some sort of cyborg who also adds robotics and ultimately controls animals. We see him, riding atop a weaponized polar bear trying to hijack a tractor trailer.

There is lot to like here. Equinox calls herself the guardian of the land and its people. She frees the animals. She uses her powers to freeze the Polargeist. And she is greeted by the people she has saved, a group who clearly loves her. She is probably the Superman of Canada.

But she can't dwell on her triumph because the Martian Manhunter contacts her with a cryptic 'they are escaping!'

We might not know who 'they' are but Miya does. And it must be something big because she immediately leaves and tries to organize a group of heroes to help her and J'onn. Her first stop ... Animal Man.

You can feel the love that Lemire has for Buddy Baker and his family in this scene. While the Futures End world looks like Los Angeles in Blade Runner, Buddy has a nice suburban home with a pool, gleaming in the sun.

Buddy has retired but business is business. He sends Maxine inside so he can talk shop. I love that second panel. You can feel how aggravated Maxine is, hands clenched, shoulders low, storming off. Great information conveyed by the art. That is my favorite panel of the book.

While Buddy also received J'onn's message, he is 100% retired ... for real. This time he means it. He won't help Miya.

And then we get the rundown of the other members.

Green Arrow is dead.

Supergirl doesn't want to see Miya. 'Sure as hell.' Why? It is implied that there was a falling out. Why does Kara always have to be the difficult one?

Stargirl is off-planet.
Alanna is in no shape ... after what happened to Adam and Ultra. So some tragedy has shelved her.

So there simply is no JLU.

But there is a Justice League. Miya heads there to mobilize those forces.

This being the Futures End world, the Justice League headquarters is a fortress in the desert, complete with lethal defense systems. Luckily, Equinox can handle herself when they almost fire on her.

She talks with Cyborg about the message and how her team was 'torn apart' so she needs the main League's help.

So the future of the JLU doesn't sound too fun does it!

The new Justice League isn't The Big Seven.

Cyborg and the Flash are there. But also Dawnstar, a Red Rocket type guy named Vostok, and guardian character named Stormguard. At least I get some Dawnstar! And some acknowledgment that the Legion Lost crew is still on Earth, still in the past.

But the story suddenly gets all Kingdom Come.

There is a gulag for super-villains in Kansas on Mars.
Captain Comet J'onn is the warden, keeping the peace with his telepathic powers.
But putting all those villains in one place is dangerous! The gulag is suddenly going to explode! (True both in Kingdom Come and here.)

The League decides they need to investigate and try to save the Manhunter.

And even more hints at the future.

Batman didn't go to Green Arrow's funeral.

But neither did Wildfire.

Okay! At least I know Wildfire is still around! He is my favorite Legionnaire! And, I thought for sure, he was the helmeted Superman. I wonder if my guess is still right. Maybe there are more than one.

On Mars ... which I guess has an atmosphere ... the heroes throw down with some of the villains. We see Mongul, Blockbuster, the Mechaneer, and Killer Frost.

We again see Equinox wield some ice powers. Is there more to her power set than that?

While the League fights outside, Equinox heads in to find J'onn. She finds him awake but crumpled at the feet of Gorilla Grodd. But Grodd is the least of their worries. J'onn is more concerned about 'the worst killer the universe has ever known' ... Captain Atom.

Ohhhhhh .... holy shades of Armageddon 2001! Of course, Atom was supposed to be the initial Monarch. And, back a few years, he actually finally became Monarch. And, in Kingdom Come, he became part of Magog's Justice Battalion. So there is some history for him to be evil.

Unfortunately, this story is continued in the Justice League Futures End issue, a book I'm not planning to get.

I have loved the JLU book so far and this issue did grab me a bit with this peek at a possible future. One, after being teased with only snippets of Equinox in the main book, it was great to see her actualized as a hero and using her powers. And it sounds like there is a fair amount of tragedy possibly in this team's future. A team torn asunder, a rift between Equinox and Supergirl, something awful happening to Adam Strange and Ultra ... that's a lot to think about. Plus Dawnstar and a Wildfire mention! And Buddy and Maxine hanging out by the pool alone was worth it.

And, while I suppose it fits with the tone of Futures End, I don't like a 'Hall of Justice' with gun turrets, a Kingdom Come gulag, and a Monarch-y Captain Atom.

Overall grade: B/B+


Caoimhe said...

Helmet Superman turned out to be Billy Batson, Shazam.

alex said...

Hope that Lemire can deliver great Legion Of Super-Heroes story in upcoming Infinitus Saga

Bartiemus said...

I really enjoyed Jeff Lemries take on the Justice League it was great seeing Cyborg stick around.

Equinox was fantastic she clearly had formed a connection with everyone her banter with Flash and Buddy was fun.

It's going to be a lot of fun seeing Equinox grow up on the JLU

As for why Kara's not there have you seen the preview for Supergirl? Cyborg Supergirl ugg

Only one more week of Futures End then back to the present yay!

Starsaber said...

Speaking of starring Steph Brown, have you read Batgirl Future's End?

Martin Gray said...

Oh Anj, get over to Too Dangerous For a Girl and read my review, in which I posit that it's not a question of a falling out between Equinox and Kara so much as that Cyborg Supergirl business that's the big barrier.

Oh, you don't need to now. Dang.

As for Batman not being at GA's funeral, I suspect that's because - nah, spoilers!

Equinox can do more than icy stuff, but her powers are tied to the seasons. Check back in the summer!

I think your spellcheck is messing you around, 'correcting' Polargeist to Poltergeist.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments!

Mart, read your review last night. I should have figured out the seasonal powers of Equinox. What do you think her autumn powers are? Death touch?

Starsaber - yes I read and loved Batgirl FE. Loved seeing Steph again. And Gail had her voice.

And I wonder if there are more than one helmeted Superman... like a helmeted Superman Emergency Squad. Maybe Wildfire was the helmeted Superman at GA's funeral. There but not there.