Thursday, September 10, 2015

Justice League: Futures End #1

Home World: Part 2 of 2

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Jed Dougherty
Colorist: Gabe Eltaeb
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Cover: Mike McKone with Eltaeb
Editor: Rickey Purdin
Group Editor: Eddie Berganza
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family.

Continuing our 3-D cover series, or rather concluding it, is an image of the Justice League of the future, contrasted with the Justice League of the present.

I find it interesting that Cyborg and the Flash are the only two constants. It makes me happy to see Flash having the integrity and loyalty to keep working with the League, even though most of the original members have been replaced by completely worthless nobodies. And I'm serious about that nobody part. If you don't recognize those guys on the cover, don't worry about it. They don't matter.

Our story picks right up where we left off with the prison revolt on Mars. Mongul has the Flash in his clutches, and Captain Atom has been revealed as the mastermind behind this attempted escape.

The heroes tell Captain Atom he can't leave, because he apparently killed millions of people two years. Atom tries to explain that he only did that to save billions of lives, but they don't care. Gorilla Grodd, who has telepathically subdued Martian Manhunter, reminds Captain Atom that their deal was to free all the villains. So Captain Atom breaks out of the prison by simply growing to a hundred feet tall and smashing out of the building.

Seeing Captain Atom out in the open, Mongul tells him that he's changed his mind. Mongul intends to be the only prisoner to escape. And why shouldn't he be so bold? He just single-handedly wasted the Justice League. Captain Atom does not take this betrayal lightly, and he blasts Mongul, possibly killing him. Flash asks Cyborg what they should do, and Cyborg says they keep fighting, no matter what.

Cyborg tries to reason with Captain Atom ... while also blasting him in the chest. Flash says Captain Atom may be beyond reason, and he somehow runs up Captain Atom's body to try to punch him in the chin. But Captain Atom mocks Flash, telling him he's out of his depth, and bends space and time on a quantum level to grasp Flash in his hand before he even moves. Atom then constantly manipulates the Speed Force molecules around Flash to paralyze him. Captain Atom continues to easily fight off the Justice League, all while demanding to have the force field surrounding Mars be lowered.

Back inside the prison, the other heroes ask Grodd how he could team up with Captain Atom. Grodd says it was a better alternative to being abandoned on Mars and mentally controlled by Martian Manhunter, which, according to him, was a fate worse than death. But after years of persistence, Grodd was finally able to break the Manhunter's control. But as Grodd fights these random heroes, the inexplicably powerful Equinox manages to freeze Grodd's head (possibly killing him?). With Grodd out of the picture, Martian Manhunter is able to slowly regain his senses.

Above, the fight continues, and Captain Atom is joined by even more prisoners. Flash takes on Count Vertigo, and is soundly defeated. One of the random heroes, Vostok, points out to Cyborg that Flash needs assistance, and Flash says, "I think I'm going to speed hurl." So Cyborg blasts Vertigo to save the fastest, yet suddenly weakest, man in the world.

Seeing that all his allies have fallen, including Grodd, Captain Atom decides on another tactic. He announced he will self-destruct, destroying Mars and everyone on it in order to destroy the force field. Atom doesn't fear death, since he knows his atoms will eventually find one another. But before Captain Atom can blow himself up, Martian Manhunter regains control of the situation. For some reason, he disguised himself as Equinox (to apparently distract Captain Atom), and then he places the former hero in a telepathic illusion of his childhood home in Clyde, Maine, where Captain Atom is human again.

With Captain Atom in a blissful trance, he returns to his normal size. Cyborg points out the destroyed prison, but Martian Manhunter says it can be rebuilt. Equinox suggests Martian Manhunter come home with them, but he says he is home, and the prisoners need him.

The Good:

I liked the idea of this prison, how the revolt came to be, and Captain Atom's role in it. But nothing was developed enough for me. As soon as the story got going, it ended. And each confrontation was very one-sided, making all the fighting extremely brief. This two-part story was really too big for just two parts. To fully explore the intricacies between Martian Manhunter, Gorilla Grodd and Captain Atom, this story really could have used five or six issues.

The Bad:

Pathetic Flash. This is the weakest, most worthless version of the Flash I have ever scene. In this issue, he is soundly, and immediately defeated by three separate villains. He does nothing of value or creative with his powers, doesn't say anything significant, and ultimately only serves a hindrance to the Justice League. He drops some stupid, out-of-place lines, and constantly looks to Cyborg for advice. Are we sure this is the same Barry Allen who's been operating as the Flash for the past 11 years? Because this worthless little loser sure feels like a rookie superhero wannabe.

Troubling Grodd. Have you ever read a comic that included Batman and Scarecrow, but the two of them never appear on the same page or even acknowledge each other? Of course you haven't! So why did that just happen to Flash and Grodd? If you're going to go to all the trouble of bringing Flash to Mars to stop a revolt largely orchestrated by Grodd, then you had better make sure we at least get a brief interaction between these two rivals. Omitting this confrontation is simply unacceptable. As for the other aspects of Grodd in this issue, I'm kind of torn on. And I think the biggest problem results from the uncertainty of Grodd's powers in the New 52. Does he or does he not have super speed? It depends on who's writing the story and what they want Grodd to do. The incredible inconsistency of the character is troubling, especially since he's one of the Flash's main villains.

Frustrating format. When I took my sabbatical from The Flash, I added Justice League to my pull list to keep an eye on the New 52. This issue interrupted an already delayed and slow-moving story about Lex Luthor joining the Justice League. So instead of getting something about Luthor, Captain Cold and Shazam, I got this completely random story from five years in the future that only includes Cyborg and Flash. And to make matters worse, this was the second part of a two-part story, but nowhere in this issue does it tell me where to find the first part. A simple, small editor's note would have helped tremendously. And although there are some interesting ideas being tossed around in this Futures End storyline, I don't care too much about what happens since it's all taking place in an alternate future. And I especially don't like having this alternate future storyline interrupting the current narrative.

Final score: 2 out of 10

Next time, we'll jump ahead toward the end of this storyline with Futures End #40.

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