This week we hit the halfway point of Futures End, our September event that sees all of our monthly New 52 titles flash forward five years. Over the past two weeks, we’ve been given glimpses of what the future may hold for some of our biggest heroes, including Batman, Superman, Aquaman, Green Arrow and more. Futures End has brought us no shortage of shocks, twists and surprises, but just for fun, we’ve decided to list off seven of the biggest, most unexpected and flat-out coolest. These are the ones that had us grinning in that way that only really good comics can do.
However, before we begin, it’s only fair to label this with a big, fat SPOILER ALERT. We’re about to dive into the plots of several of this month’s comics, so read with caution. But if you’ve been keeping up, stick with us as we unveil the seven biggest Futures End surprises…so far!
There are quite a few surprises to be found in NEW SUICIDE SQUAD: FUTURES END #1, including a compound of cloned super-villains and a shaven-headed, freedom fighting Amanda Waller who actually comes off as someone we’d like to work for. However, for pure shock value alone, we have to give the prize to the perfect pair of pages that wrap up the issue. After an exciting battle with a cloned Deathstroke, Deadshot—who’s now missing an arm—eliminates his opponent in thrilling, brutal fashion before collapsing to the floor and dying. But not before Amanda informs him that the mission was a success, ensuring that his final thought is a happy one. Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that a title called “Suicide Squad” ends with one of its main characters biting the bullet, but this one still got us.
Aquaman and Mera…No More?!
They’re one of the most iconic and well known couples in comics: Aquaman and Mera. But in AQUAMAN: FUTURES END #1, Arthur returns home after a difficult day of trying to maintain peace between Atlantis and the surface world and cozies up not with his fiery queen, but with Ya’wara of the Others. More surprising still, we learn that not only have Arthur and Mera ended their relationship, but Mera’s now planning an Atlantean rebellion against him, teaming up with Atlan, the former and (in the minds of some Atlanteans) rightful king of Atlantis.
And you thought your breakups were bad.
While there may be no jaw-dropping twists in ACTION COMICS: FUTURES END #1, it makes our list for completely subverting our expectations. One couldn’t be blamed for expecting the Action Comics Futures End installment to be really heavy on…well, action. So imagine our surprise when we picked the book up only to be treated to a thoughtful and downright poignant character-based story about Superman’s ability to inspire others. It perfectly encapsulates one of the Man of Steel’s greatest qualities as a character and as a symbol in our world. There’s no way to say more without giving away the full story, so you should just read and discover it for yourself. However, it’s worth pointing out that this comic was written by Sholly Fisch, fully cementing his status as one of our best under-the-radar Superman writers.
Snyder and Fawkes Connect the Dots
In the Ray Fawkes and Scott Snyder-written BATMAN: FUTURES END #1, Bruce Wayne must finally pay the toll a lifetime of action has taken on his body. Injured and beaten, with a broken neck that requires him to wear some sort of advanced robot spine, Bruce is alarmingly close to death. But rather than heeding Alfred’s advice and retiring, he chooses to embark on one final, all-or-nothing mission to infiltrate LexCorp and retrieve a crucial component that will ensure the world always has a Batman. The mission is an action-packed endeavor, giving Batman one final chance to remind us why we love him so much. That’s not what’s surprising.
What’s unexpected is the final page, which devoted readers may realize is a direct reference to the short story Snyder wrote for DETECTIVE COMICS #27 earlier this year, in which we’re introduced to the most recent clone in a long series of Batman clones far in the future. That story, and this one, both share the same message stated through almost the exact same line: “Gotham must always have a Batman.” Way to connect the dots, gentlemen.
A Happy Ending? Stranger Things Have Happened…
While the Phantom Stranger will be a big part of the upcoming Trinity of Sin comic series, TRINITY OF SIN: PHANTOM STRANGER: FUTURES END #1 serves as the final issue in his ongoing solo comic, and devotees of the series shouldn’t be disappointed. Titled “The Last Coin,” it reveals the Stranger’s final judgment, as he must once again stand before the Council of Eternity. Only this time, the Council is composed of seven of his worst enemies. We won’t ruin the events of the trial because the big surprise, the one that earns the book a place on our list, actually comes afterwards. That last coin? It paves the way to a surprising reunion between the Stranger and his wife, who reveals her continued love and devotion to her husband, promising they’ll be together again for many lifetimes. It’s a happy “ending” that for the Phantom Stranger, has been a VERY long time coming.
All Three Batgirls, All Together
Man, we really didn’t see this one coming!
In 2011, writer Gail Simone restored the mantle of Batgirl to Barbara Gordon for the launch of the New 52. Now, three years later (almost to the day), Simone is leaving the title to reintroduce her equally beloved Sinister Six. But not until wrapping up her run with BATGIRL: FUTURES END #1, a one-shot that’s guaranteed to leave longtime Batgirl fans giddy.
After the murder of her newlywed husband, Barbara undergoes a bit of a dark change, adopting a new name, costume and intimidating physique after undergoing training at the hands of Bane. Calling herself the Beast or Bête Noire, she now leads a League of Batgirls made of three very familiar young women: Twelve-year-old Tiffany Fox, Stephanie Brown and…that’s right…Cassandra Cain. As fans of all of our past Batgirls, seeing Barbara, Stephanie and Cass fighting side-by-side was a treat we certainly didn’t expect to see anytime soon in the New 52. Talk about leaving on a high note!
A Dick Grayson Story That’s Over Before It’s Begun… Or Is It?
We’re going to try to go a little easy on the spoilers for this one because we want readers who haven’t picked up GRAYSON: FUTURES END #1 to experience it for themselves? Why would we do that considering all the twists we’ve spoiled in this article so far? Quite simply, we think Grayson: Futures End #1, by Tom King, Tim Seeley and Stephen Mooney is one of those very rare, very infrequent comic books that offers a reading experience almost completely unlike any comic before it.
Here’s what we will tell you. The story, scripted by King, is told in reverse chronology, with the book opening at what seems to be the end of the story and wrapping up with a scene from Dick’s childhood. In between, we see key moments from his life—moments that frequently change your understanding of events that take place earlier in the story. Trust us, you’ll want to go back and reread it when you’re done.
We can’t single out a surprising moment from this story because the entire comic is surprising, and while as readers, we miss Nightwing as much as you do, this look at Dick’s future with Spyral promises that we should expect the unexpected when it comes to this most recent chapter of his life. No matter which order King and Seeley decide to tell it in.
Those are our seven biggest surprises so far. What are yours? And which upcoming Futures End comics are you most excited about? Let us know down below, and we’ll see you in the future!