Sunday, September 6, 2015

Justice League United: Futures End #1

Home World: Part 1 of 2

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Jed Dougherty
Colorist: Gabe Eltaeb
Letterer: Dezi Sienty
Cover: Mike McKone with Eltaeb
Editor: Rickey Purdin
Group Editor: Eddie Berganza
Supergirl based on characters created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family.

In September 2014, all New 52 titles took a break from their regular stories to jump ahead five years in the future. All these Futures End tie-ins also came with 3-D covers that were actually a nice improvement over the 3-D covers of 2013. Of course, the digital version of these comics only give you the "future" version of each cover, but in this case, I have the physical copy and can show you the "present" version of the cover.

The effect is pretty cool, but you have to carefully, painstakingly tilt the comic at just the right degree to fully appreciate each separate image. Most of the time, you get both images at the same time, messily bleeding over each other.

The Flash plays a rather small role in this issue, so let's skip ahead to the part where he does show up, at the Fortress of Justice in New Mexico (kind of a weird place for Earth-based headquarters, but whatever). Cyborg has hastily summoned a meeting, but Flash is the only original Justice League member to show up — Wonder Woman and Superman are apparently busy elsewhere. Cyborg summoned the meeting because Equinox, the woman who's front and center in both covers, has received a telepathic distress call from Martian Manhunter at the Mars-based super-villain prison. Cyborg's tried to contact the prison, but to no avail.

One of the new members of the League is quite upset to learn about this secret prison on Mars. Flash explains that it was Martian Manhunter's idea after a particularly bad Despero attack in New York. Cyborg elaborates that Mars is abandoned, and the Justice League teamed up with Terrifitech, the Queen Foundation and S.H.A.D.E. to construct the facility, which was built with state-of-the art technology, plus is protected by a powerful force field that covers the entire planet of Mars. But the biggest security measure is the prison's warden, Martian Manhunter himself, who is telepathically keeping all the prisoners docile.

There is the smallest amount of outrage at the revelation of this unethical behavior, but everyone is mostly worried about what they should do about Martian Manhunter's distress call. Flash says Cyborg is the leader and he should make the call. Cyborg points out that none of the prison's alarms have been triggered, but the lack of response from J'onn J'onzz is enough of a reason for the team to take a trip to Mars. So they load up the Justice League battlecruiser and take the short journey to the red planet.

Flash brings up Green Arrow's recent funeral, and one of the new heroes complains about Batman's absence. Flash angrily says that Batman has his reasons for staying quiet and they should all respect that. The suddenly awkward conversation mercifully comes to an end when the spaceship arrives at Mars. After punching in the codes to pass through the force field, Cyborg lands the craft about a mile away from the gulag. Flash conducts a high-speed loop of the perimeter, and reports that it's all quiet. Cyborg actually answers with "Too quiet."

Equinox then gets another telepathic message from J'onn. He says he's being blocked by a powerful telepath, but before he can say who the leader of the prison revolt is, the link is broken. Our heroes then arrive at the front door of the prison, where they're met by Killer Frost, Mongul, Blockbuster and Mechaneer. Cyborg orders them to protect the ship, since it's the only thing that can pass through the planet's force field.

Flash takes on Mongul, but is actually caught by the super villain in a chokehold. Equinox, meanwhile, actually freezes Killer Frost, because her powers apparently are based on the current climate of Canada, which conveniently happens to be winter right now. Equinox gets inside the prison and finds Martian Manhunter, who is chained at the feet of Gorilla Grodd. J'onn tells Equinox she was tricked to come here, and Grodd reveals that the leader of the revolt is the worst killer the universe has ever known, Captain Atom.

The Good:

There are some interesting concepts here, notably the idea of a super-villain prison on Mars and Captain Atom being its top prisoner. But there wasn't enough time to fully explore these ideas. Captain Atom will obviously come into play in part two, but in this issue, I really would have liked a more thorough discussion on the ethics of such a prison existing.

The Bad:

Weakened Flash. We see these too often with the Flash in a group setting. It seems like the writer isn't sure what to do with him, so he relegates the Flash to the background and severely weakens him. The Flash just ran circles around Mongul, which did nothing, then he was promptly caught by him. How? I'm not really sure what the New 52 Mongul can do, but it feels like a bit of a stretch to have him handle the Flash so easily. I also wasn't thrilled with how Flash referred to Cyborg as the leader of the Justice League, mainly because that never came across as being the case in the other Futures End titles. If anything, Flash and Cyborg should have been co-leaders on this mission, since they were the only original members present.

Final score: 4 out of 10

Next time, we conclude this story in Justice League: Futures End #1.

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