I had given up on Futures End. I had decided it was just going to plod along, repeatedly zooming in for close-ups on boring third-stringers about whom I give zero fucks (*coughFirestormcough*) and generally just being a high-effort, low-reward series on which to keep up.
Then DC sent me Batman: Futures End #1. When I got home today, I poured myself some home-brewed Irish draught ale, took the dogs outside to run in the yard, sat down on the stoop and cracked the seal on this sucker (mine doesn’t have the fancy hologram cover like in the .gif below).
This Futures End one-shot appearing in the monthly Batman title resembles Futures End #0 from Free Comic Book Day this year: it’s exciting, action-packed, and yet story-driven in a very media res kinda way. And most importantly, it takes place “five years from now.” (“Now” being the date in DC’s current New 52 continuity). Why’s that important?
Because when you set shit in the future, you (mostly) don’t have to give a shit about continuity.
That’s why The Dark Knight Returns is so fucking good, that’s why Kingdom Come is off-the-chain amazing, and so on for dozens of DC’s Elseworlds tales (DKR and Kingdom aren’t technically Elseworlds, but that’s beside the point).
And technically, this comic is part of continuity, so the storyline they’ve introduced here will probably end up a lot less cool than it seems right now, but that doesn’t detract from the fun of this one-shot.
So waaay back when the passage of time was still at least kind-of a thing in the DC Multiverse, there was this big crossover event called Final Crisis. Among a lot of other trippy mind-bending story threads Grant Morrison wrote into the series, there was this one where Batman gets captured by Darkseid’s goon-squad. They’re all like, “Holy shit, we just bagged the most bad-ass motherfucker on planet Earth, what should we do with him?”
Rather than just, you know, kill him (which you probably should if you’re just a lackey of the story’s primary antagonist) they decide to clone him like a million times, steal all of Bruce Wayne’s memories, and implant them in the clones to make a Batman-army — all of whom would for some reason decide to work for Darkseid, the incarnation of evil in the DC Multiverse. I dunno, maybe Apokolips has really good unions.
Anyway, Batman totally fucks that plan (“What kind of man can turn his own memories into a weapon?”) and then shoots Darkseid with his own supernatural bullet. Cue Omega Effect and Bruce Wayne tumbling through time, buckling some swash with pirates and riding off into the sunset of the Wild West and such.
Back to Batman: Futures End #1 which, despite the Flashpoint event and the New 52 relaunch, still takes place after Batman’s experiences during Final Crisis.
And so, being the goddamn Batman, he mulls these experiences over a bit. He reflects. He considers his overarching strategy. He examines his weaknesses, and recalls the fact that, bad motherfucker though he is, someday he will die. Pff, stupid death. And then he’s like, “Eff that. BATMAN CAN NEVER DIE.“
So he starts researching how to create stable, programmable clones and implant them with all of his memories up to and including that one night in his father’s study:
Hence, the cover of Batman: Futures End #1 — an army of Batmen.
So that’s the premise; the comic’s timescale and scope are actually much tighter. Batman breaks into the only lab in the world with the cloning technology he needs, and naturally the lab belongs to Lex Luthor, so there’s, I dunno, I guess like some high-end security systems or something, but Batman’s like “bitch please” and strolls in like it’s a revolving door convention.
He discovers something* that causes a minor inconvenience during his egress from the facility, but he manages to grab the tech he needs and bug out before Luthor’s security activates “the B-Zero Contingency.” Yes, Lex Luthor built a special contingency into his security program, because Batman.
So you can tell I really liked this comic, and it makes me mad because now I want to start reading Futures End again. And here’s me thinking I could just ride it out until the collected hardcover dropped.
*Luthor’s trying to clone Superman. Again. So there’s an army of Bizarros trying to stop Batman from escaping. Like I said — minor inconvenience.