We’ve been talking about The New 52: Futures End a lot here lately, and for good reason. It’s an action heavy tale with serious implications for the entire DC Universe that’s utterly unlike anything else we’re publishing right now. We’re now four issues into the storyline, and each new chapter has only deepened the intrigue, offering up a mix of explosive sci-fi action, post-apocalyptic horror, far-reaching conspiracies, startling twists and revealing character moments. Of course, if you’re reading the series, we’re not telling you anything that you don’t already know.
What you might not know is who all of the current players are. So far, The New 52: Futures End has largely focused on some very cool characters from the DC Universe who aren’t as well known as some of our other heroes. If you’re a newer or more casual DC Comics reader, you may not know who these guys are. And you know what? That’s totally okay. In fact, it’s more than okay, it’s expected. So to help you out, we thought we’d put together a little primer on who some of these folks are. Here are four key characters from Futures End that you may not know.
If you grew up watching DC animation during the Bruce Timm, Alan Burnett and Paul Dini era, you know who Batman Beyond is. If not, then it’s time you became acquainted with Terry McGinnis, the Batman of the future!
Terry first made his debut on the classic animated series Batman Beyond, but don’t let the show’s title confuse you, Terry’s super hero name is just plain Batman. In the future, when Bruce Wayne becomes too old to continue on as the Dark Knight, he trains the rebellious young Terry to be his replacement, bestowing him with a cool, futuristic suit that gives him additional abilities (Batman can’t fly you say? Well, he can now!). In addition, his suit is equipped with an AI system named A.L.F.R.E.D. that much like the long deceased (in his era) Mr. Pennyworth, offers information, assistance…and occasional attitude.
Futures End marks Terry’s official debut in DC Comics continuity, but if you can experience more of his adventures in both the animated series, as well as our current digital first Batman Beyond comic which is written by Kyle Higgins and is set within the animated show’s continuity.
Mr. Terrific is a hero who goes back to the Golden Age, but the current version of him is Michael Holt, a genius and martial arts master who adopted the mantle of Mr. Terrific after the death of his wife. While Michael is a very capable fighter, perhaps his greatest skill is his ingenuity and intelligence. He’s known as one of the world’s best minds. As for his greatest weapon, it’s undoubtedly his T-Spheres—flying artificially intelligent orbs that he controls and which possess a multitude of technological capabilities including the ability to access most computers, override many security systems and hide Michael from digital surveillance. In THE NEW 52: FUTURES END #3, Michael makes reference to a “uSphere,” suggesting that he may have taken his T-Sphere to a new level. We’ll have to see.
The version of Mr. Terrific that we’re seeing in Futures End is quite a bit different than the one we’ve seen prior to now, suggesting that quite a bit has happened in the five years between current continuity and the Futures End timeline. However, if you’d like to read more with him, Mr. Terrific did have an eight-issue New 52 series that’s available digitally or as a single trade paperback. He’s also appeared in Earth 2.
Created by Jim Lee and Brandon Choi, Grifter is an Ex-Special Ops Agent and con man named Cole Cash. After a stint on Team 7, the superhuman hunting strike team that also included Slade Wilson, Dinah Lance and Amanda Waller, Cole was abducted by an evil race of aliens called the Daemonites who have the ability to possess humans. However, the Daemonites attempt to possess Cole failed and left him with the ability to spot Daemonites—as well as other alien races—in their human forms.
Since then, Cole’s made it his life’s mission to hunt down these Daemonites, and we see him doing this in Futures End. In addition to his ability to recognize aliens, Grifter is simply a badass—he’s handy in a fight and a crack shot. However, don’t look for him among the ranks of the Justice League or their allies, he’s a lethal vigilante who prefers not to spend too much time considering whether the end justifies his rather extreme means.
Grifter also had his own self-titled New 52 series, which you can download digitally or collect as a trade.
Okay, you know who Frankenstein is. But you may not be familiar with him in the DC Universe. In The New 52, Frankenstein is a former agent of S.H.A.D.E. (the Super Human Advanced Defense Executive), a government organization that investigates paranormal activity. S.H.A.D.E. is run by Father Time, a fairly amoral individual who regenerates his appearance periodically and currently looks like a young schoolgirl in a mask (in other words, about as far from what you’d expect as you can get). As part of S.H.A.D.E., Frankenstein fought alongside a team of monsters known as the Creature Commandos that also included his four-armed wife. However, things didn’t exactly go well and Frankenstein left S.H.A.D.E., eventually getting involved with the Justice League Dark.
Frankenstein is a formidable fighter. He’s inhumanly strong and powerful, and is undead and therefore immortal. He’s also remarkably intelligent and thoughtful. Behind the monstrous face and formidable strength, lies a very sensitive, human mind. Frankenstein has shown up in many New 52 titles, but to best prepare you for his role in Futures End, we’d suggest reading Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. It’s written by Futures End’s Jeff Lemire and is available both digitally and in print.
One of the best things about weekly comics is how they afford us opportunities to spotlight some of the DC Universe’s fascinating characters who may not have the recognition of a Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman. If you’re new to these characters, hopefully this has been a helpful introduction, but do seek out some of their prior stories. You may just find yourself becoming a fan…