Future’s End: The End is Nigh! Part #0

The Red Sky is Falling! And robots are coming!
Because yes, DC’s second weekly series, Future’s End, just launched. With a maniacally unexpected writing squadron of Brian Azzarello, Dan Jurgens, Keith Giffen and Jeff Lemire, this series will be running every week for the next year. So what’s it about? Well, DC launched the story off this last week with a free issue #0 for Free Comic Book Day. The story sees a number of cancelled characters all show up together for a new epic time-travel storyline, in which robots take over the future and characters come back to the present to try and stop them from ever being made.

It has a surprising set of writers, a decent rotating team of artists – Jesus Merino, Ethan Van Sciver, Patrick Zircher and more – and seems like it’s going to have a far more interesting and wider sweep of central characters than Batman Eternal… not that the two books are competing, of course
As Future’s End starts the clock, so Comics Vanguard will be with you every week to offer recaps of each issue. I’ll be following the story along page by page, taking some good-natured jabs at the comic (unless it proves to be really bad, in which case you’ll see me turn sour AND bitter AND angry AND possibly to drink), pointing out different theories about what’s going on, and making a lot of jokes at Grifter’s expense.
Let’s start with issue #0!

In thirty-five years time, robots wander loose around Central City, watched over by a giant eye which lives on The Moon. But fear not! Some random characters have all penned together inside a shipping container to hide from the robots. Now I’m not the best with spotting obscure DC references, so the only one of the three faces here means anything to me – Captain Cold is onboard. The other two are some bloke with an eyepatch who looks like Xander from Buffy, and Brian Azzarello. Seriously, I think that one of the last survivors of the apocalypse is meant to be Brian Azzarello.

These three are all debating whether to close the door of the shipping container, or to wait for their ally to arrive – an ally who turns out to be The Flash. Wait, doesn’t Flash have the ability to vibrate through walls? You guys could’ve left that door closed and it’d all be fine. When he does arrive, however, it turns out he’s aged by about sixty years or so (and so has Captain Cold, who looks like he’s been mainlining meth for decades) and has grown a big white beard. Is this going to be a thing? Are beards going to be a motif for this book, maybe?
Anyway it turns out that Flash has accidentally led all the robots to the shipping container, which I’m choosing to believe is the same one from Batman Eternal, where Batgirl is currently living. Wonder Woman bursts down the door, but she’s half-cyborg and yelling a load of stuff about Brother Eye. So I’ll be calling these robots ‘Eyeborgs’ from now on, then. She has the body of a robotic spider for some reason, and also a metal tiara welded to her head. Well, don’t mess with a classic costume design, I guess. Her body is mostly gone, apart from her boobs. It looks as though around 60% of her remaining human parts is boob.

Xander gets crushed under a door. Wondy immediately kills Brian Azzarello, and an army of tiny spider bots start swarming over everyone else in the room. Flash beats up one of the Eyeborgs, but Wondy slices off Captain Cold’s hands and he immediately starts turning binary. It looks like as soon as you take a cut from one of the Eyeborgs, you get infected with computer code. Flash goes absolutely ballistic at this, providing shipping fuel for Tumblrs nationwide, and promptly rips Wonder Woman apart too.
He kneels down, absolutely knackered, and finds himself surrounded. Just as the Eyebots are about to assimilate him, Frankenstein pops up. Oh yeah! Frankenstein! I just read a Justice League Dark story where these two have a great time teaming up! Flash said some kind racist things but eventually learned the error of his prejudiced ways through the medium of punching. This is not such a friendly meeting, however, as Frankenstein is working for Brother Eye. He takes his shirt off to reveal that, ew, he’s ripped off Black Canary’s face and sewn it onto his chest. She seems to still be alive, too, because she screams at this moment and vaporises Flash.
So this is going to be one of THOSE sorts of stories, then.
We get a look around the world, to see that Eyeborgs have taken over everywhere. Aquaman is stood on his own in Atlantis, having either killed everyone or bored them all into leaving. The Amazons are alive, it seems, which feels like a big spoiler for Wonder Woman, and have killed Deathstroke and a Green Lantern. Brilliantly, in Gotham Batgirl has merged INTO the Bat-Signal, which now beams a big eye across the city.
In Metropolis, we find Blue Beetle and John Stewart are still alive, and preparing for one last suicide run against the Eyeborgs. As they jump out a manhole cover and advance on Eyeborg Boost Gold, John says “I wish we were more than a diversionary tactic”. OH WHAT? So you’re saying the survivors picked the two people of colour to be their diversionary tactic? Boy, if we find out that the other team of survivors are a bunch of Aryans, I’m going to be miffed.
Booster immediately takes out Blue Beetle with “eye-seeds”, which sounds totally dirty. John thinks he can use the ring to save him somehow – I guess that’s why they say he’s got such a strong will – but in the process turns his back on… Superman! Eyeborg Superman. Looks like they got to Clark, then. Clark also has robot legs, which means fans won’t have to fret about whether he’s wearing jeans or whatever. Superman blasts John right in the groin, and we get to see a giant flaming tower in the background. It looks as though they’ve bottled Firestorm?

Anyway, Superman continues to blast John with various lasers, until he eventually shoots RIGHT at the green lantern ring. The ring immediately shifts into a Brother Eye logo, and John starts turning into an Eyeborg. That was the shortest diversionary tactic ever.
Team 2 are made up of Aryan characters Amethyst and Grifter. Godammit! But, y’know – good on Grifter for surviving this long. That’s damned impressive. Their mission is to unplug Firestorm, but as soon as Amethyst opens her portal to Earth both characters get blasted with green energy from Eyeborg John Stewart. They get a reaction shot where it looks like both their faces are melting, before John fires a second shot and wipes them both out. You lasted even less time than the diversionary tactic! Who’s leading this operation?
….Oh, of course. It’s Bruce Wayne. With Terry, the Batman Beyond. They’re in the Batcave, which is still underneath Wayne Manor. You don’t have a second base you could use, Bruce? This seems like a fairly obvious place for you to be hide. This is emphasised by the fact that the manor itself has been destroyed, and Eyeborgs are currently working on drilling down into the cave.
It turns out that Bruce is working on building a device which will let him time travel into the past and prevent any of this from ever happening. Terry explains it all to Bruce, who looks bored out of his mind at having to hear all this exposition again. Leave him be, Terry! He just wants to build his time travel device in peace, so he can go blow up a giant Eye-robot. Terry tells him that “you and Mr Terrific should never have had it built”, which is a little unfair and obvious at this point, as well as being poor grammar. If you insist on taking in all these street urchins without offering them an education, Bruce…
At this point Eyeborgs of Batman, Inc all burst into the cave, including Knight and Squire, as well as all the other characters I never bothered to learn the names of. They have a minute to kill the Batmen before Bruce travels into the past, which Bruce keeps reminding us of by shouting down the timer. Sadly he yells “forty-five seconds” rather than “forty-five Bat-Seconds”. I really would’ve thought Bruce Wayne would’ve invented a new way to measure time by now, but apparently not.
Batman Beyond punches straight through Eyeborg Knight’s head, Judge Dredd-style, whilst Bruce uses the flaming Batarangs from the recent downloadable content for Arkham Origins to explode Eyeborg Batwing. But then he gets shot in the back by someone and lands on Batwing’s outstretched robo-blade, cutting off… well, yes, cutting off his arm. Classic DC! Terry kills off all the other Eyeborgs and tells him to “hold on!”, to which Bruce replies “with what?”, hilariously. It only took him thirty years, but he finally developed a sense of humour.

Bruce gives the time travel device to Terry, telling him to go the past instead. He then makes note of the fact that if Terry should try and contact the past version of Bruce Wayne… Bruce will try and stop him. Nice. Batman Beyond jumps through the portal just as Bruce shoots an Eyeborg Huntress – who falls through with him. His job done, Batman gets in time for a quick brood just before he dies.
Terry lands down on his back, pretty inelegantly, with the broken Eyebot Huntress landing next to him. I wonder if she’ll be important later? He stands up and asks A.L.F.R.E.D., his computer system, where he is. And… it turns out he’s landed thirty years in the past, rather than thirty-five. Blast and damn! He looks up around Times Square, and sees a number of easter eggs in front of him. To be continued!

(But! Before we continue on, let’s just note the easter eggs here. Lois lane has a TV show called “The Fast Lane”, Mr Terrific is on a billboard. Project Cadmus is namechecked, as well as STAR labs. LexCorp have a sign, and there’s also a poster reminding people to keep their “Earth Card” on them at all times. It looks like there’s some kind of registration act in place! You can sense Mark Millar readying the lawyers already. Finally, there’s a concert poster taking place, a fundraiser for “the survivors of Earth 2”. Oh boy….)
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