The Future State of Liveblogs

Category: Liveblog
Last article published: 12 October 2015
This is the 12th post under this label

Back in January, I talked about Future State: Justice League and said I quite enjoyed it. I generally like What Ifs and Elseworlds and Alternate Takes, which you'd think would make me a big fan of what DC's been doing this past decade+, but between Injustice and the Dark Multiverse and well, the main line going dark too, I kind of stuck to a fun series here and there (like Dial H for Hero and Hawkman) and that was that. Future State, like Convergence, is an insulated one-off micro-line that can be read, enjoyed, dissected, and not really force me to jump aboard a bunch of monthlies afterwards, so it would seem to make a perfect Liveblogging subject. I've taken most of the day off to just read through Future State, or at least get as far as I can - it's still 50 comics and some of them have an expanded size! So come back all day, I'll be updating this post with short reviews and impressions all day, until I head for bed.

I do want to say before we get into it that while I don't know what was originally planned under the DiDio regime, I want to consider Future State the endgame for the New52/Rebirth era continuity. It's not, but it really should have been. Death Metal ended with Wonder Woman walking into the white and the heroes talking about a NEW center to the Multiverse, a NEW Earth. Cut to Future State, which shows futures near and far for all of DC's ongoing series. Except, no. Infinite Frontier as a brand seems to continue most comics as they were, renumber some of them, and perhaps it'll expand the Multiverse, explore that new Earth, etc. It's not clear. New trade dress, same old continuity.

But on some Earth out there, Future State really DOES close a loop. So let's imagine it really does and that it's not a "possible future", but the actual one. How to read it though? Well, though I'm more interested in the ones that take place 20+ years in the future, I'm going to experience them in the order they might have happened, nearest future first. Hey, might help me keep up my motivation as the day progresses.

Stand by, I'm not up yet, but as soon as I am, the future of... the Batman Family!


2025... 4 years from now
The Next Batman #1-4: At first you think it's Luke Fox (Lucius' son) and he's upgraded from Batwing to the Next Batman, but it's his brother Tim (now Jace), trying to make good after misspent youth. In 4 years, it looks like the U.S. has become a police state, or at least Gotham is, patrolled by corporatized peacekeepers, and Batman, whoever may be wearing the cowl, is defying the law by wearing a mask. Speaking of masks, while I'm dead tired of the whole "Joker cult" thing, here they do it with Bane. Refreshing.

And I really like Nick Derington's art in the first issue issue; sadly, he doesn't do the next three. Laura Braga is good too, it's just not the same atmosphere. And she makes Batman's mask look like it has an open bird beak. So this is basically a remake of the usual Batman formula (via Law & Order Special Crimes Unit), with different cops and different helpers, with a nice dose of Marvel in there - Jace's family think he's a screw-up, his mom's trying to get Batman killed with a shoot-on-sight law, and his dad is selling weapons to the fascist rent-a-cops. Those elements are more intriguing than the murder of the month (like his having to shuriken his mom), but at only 4 issues, there's really nowhere to go with it. Not exactly true since they did launch a digital Next Batman series. Never waste a good Batman.
Outsiders (back-up in The Next Batman #1 and #3): I don't know how I feel about rocket pack Katana, but I think maybe... "silly". It's mostly her, but the Signal is an Outsider too, and Black Lightning shows up as a man made of electricity. Further establishes that the rent-a-cops (the Magistrate) are real bad dudes, otherwise, it's hard to care.

Arkham Knights (in The Next Batman #1 and #3): I guess when the cops are worse than criminals, criminals become freedom fighters. This is Suicide Squad with Arkham inmates mixed with Arthurian legend, and just the kind of reinvention I like. It makes complete sense for a fairly new character (especially a Bat-character) to have gained prominence in the next 4 years, and the Astrid Arkham is a very interesting character that means to heal her crew/patients and the city with empathy and swordplay. And they're the current inhabitants of the Bat-Cave too--NOOOOOOOOOOOOO my favorite of the lot doesn't make it out alive!

Batgirls (in The Next Batman #2 and #4): Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown in Magistrate jail with tons of cameos from hero and villain inmates, but why contradict Arkham Knights by having a couple of characters in both strips?! AND Outsiders! AND Sirens, looks like. Truly, editing is dead at DC. First indications that the original Batman is still alive somewhere, but more importantly, if you're wondering where Barbara Gordon is...

...and she's Oracle! So only 4 years to wait, Oracle fans.

Gotham City Sirens (in The Next Batman #2 and #4): Catwoman and Ivy pick up an android girl called Dee-Dee - because in 4 years, we'll all belatedly have Cherry 2000s - and it leads to some fun moments, especially in Slam Bradley's speakeasy for masks (that's clever when you remember the character's history).

Dee-Dee is right out of Ex Machina, actually. I sort of missed Harley, but not really.

Catwoman #1-2: I love a good train heist and Selina is going after an important prisoner transported by the Magistrate. Good art and urgency. I do wonder that we're promised answers as to what happened to the OG Batman in Dark Detective, but that series is supposed to be set in 2027. Either it starts with a big flashback, or it's more of DC's deadbeat dad editorial.

Harley Quinn #1-2: I don't now if the art is supposed to make me feel queasy with its perspectives, because that would play with the theme of lunacy, but this is a relatively serious Harley story, at least compared to what I think her stories are like these days. She's forced to help a Magistrate-employed Jonathan Crane catch the criminally insane, and it's at least fun to see her out-psychology the Scarecrow at every turn.

Grifters (in Dark Detective #1 and #3... so, IS Dark Detective set in 2025?!): I do not, nor have ever cared for the Wildstorm characters. This is no different even if there's a Falcon and Winter Soldier vibe thanks to the banter between Grifter and Luke Fox (who doesn't seem like he's the character from The Next Batman), or to some extent, Huntress. Still just boring guns and explosions. No idea why they went plural on the name.

Nightwing #1-2: Just what we needed, a darker Nightwing.

I predict I will have as much Batman fatigue in 4 years as I do now. It's not a bad story, not at all, and I get that this is a future set in the wake of last year's protests, complete with overfunded, overreaching police and Gotham's own propaganda machine, but it gives all these Future State issues the same villain, the same feel, and a real lack of variety.

The Red Hood (in Dark Detective #2 and #4): Akira was set in 2019, so Red Hood's bike isn't new.

The drones really look like those SkyNet ones too. Nice near-future riffs. Jason is a state-sanctioned mask working to hunt down other masks for the Magistrate and it makes a nice change of pace in terms of opponents. I don't know what to make of the "To be continued..." card at the end. I mean, yes, I'm intrigued, but will Future State tell the story?

Robin Eternal #1-2: Takes place before Batgirls, if you're trying to make sense of it. I really wanted to see a late-teens Damian, but no, this is Tim. And it's not a great Tim story.

Batman/Superman 1-2: Almost forgot this one, and with Bruce still in the cowl, it takes place earliest, "at the start of the occupation". The big draw: Rats with heat vision. The big miss: There's a drug that changes your face to an animal's, but no Terrible Trio. But bonus points for the Animal Man cameo:

His Safari Card powers are invaluable.

In 4 years, I might be reading... Arkham Knights, possibly Batgirls, maybe even The Red Hood, but it's all in service of the bigger Magistrate story that surely can't be kept up forever.

2027... 7 years from now
Dark Detective #1-4: Still not done with Gotham City, well okay... So it's hard to answer my own question as to the timeline. The flashbacks are in 2024 and '25, but it's possible Gotham's been under Magistrate control for 3 years by the end of the series. There's an ending here, if we want to believe it. I do like Dan Mora's art quite a lot, and Tamaki's paired down Batman, on the run and working with fewer means, is one I like. Cool look too. The two Batmen meet...

...but it doesn't amount to anything. Jeers. Still, this is a good advertisement for this creative team's current work on Detective Comics. And with that... we're finally out of Gotham. Not a moment too soon. I wonder how much of this story will be told in Next Batman digital comics. Anyway, it's there for fans of this storyline.

The Flash #1-2: The Speed Force has failed Flash and the other speedsters, except Wally West who's possessed by some entity that's making him suck people dry of energy left and right (mostly villains), so they're forced to use the Rogues' weapons to stop him. Some fun with the permutations and lots of cameos inferring what the DCU might look like in 6 years, but it's a death fest of the sort you only find in What If scenarios.

Are some creative teams playing it as the "last ever issue" of their series, putting the final nails in the coffin of the New52/Rebirth continuity after all? I don't know, as this one is continued in...

Teen Titans #1-2: This one sets up (in reverse) the Titans Academy set-up from current comics, where the Titans run a school for gifted youngsters, and I suppose the big deal is that it introduces Red X is mainstream continuity (from the Titans cartoon). But THIS blog only cares about one thing: DIAL H APPEARANCE!

Sadly, current Dialer Miguel Montez is killed (does this mean he's in Academy?) but the Dial is modified to call up dead heroes at seances, and Red X uses it to call the spirits of all the dead Titans (and there are way too many, DC) to fight the threat from the Flash comic. The number is 848267 (T-I-T-A-N-S). Otherwise, with all the backwards and forwards, it's pretty hard to follow.

So in 6 years, I might be reading... nothing because everybody seems to die in this time frame.

2029... 8 years from now
Shazam #1-2: Only one book in this time frame and I won't be reading 8 years from now. How many Shazam Gone Bad stories have I ALREADY read? I don't care to read any more. Following from Teen Titans, this is another murderous series with Captain Marvel running his own group out of the JLDetroit bunker, but a choice made in TT#2 makes everything go wrong. Sets up a villain for the Black Adam series in Infinite Frontier, but I couldn't care less.

2030... 9 years from now
Aquaman #1-2: In this time frame, Aqualad Jackson Hyde (Manta's son) is the Aquaman, and more or less grew up to be Jason Momoa. Though the story told over 6 years, of his training Arthur and Mera's daughter (to set up her appearance in Future State Justice League), their getting separated in interdimensional waters and finding their way back to each other, I kind of fell in love with these characters and wish I'd been there every step of the montaged way.

Such gorgeous art too (Daniel Sampere over Brandon Thomas' story). I like the insulting school of fish as well.

Justice League Dark (in Justice League #1-2): Move over Magistrate, Merlin's taken over THIS piece of the future. In fact, we might call this an entirely different future from the rest, which Dr. Fate seems to imply it is. Some nice weirdness, and a good role for the Demon, but the lack of connection with the rest of Future State is bothersome.

Suicide Squad #1-2: I hate it when Amanda Waller is basically evil and not a real person, and after a couple of twists to redeem her in this story, it just... no, I don't think it makes any sense.

Superman of Metropolis #1-2: Whatever happened to Clark Kent, Jon Kent is now Superman. And like Gotham, Metropolis has been appropriated by something and declared independence. Surprisingly, Jon decides to resolve the impasse by shrinking the city down like Kandor.

I would appreciate the crazy status quo, but it's just a threat of the week. Jon finds his place in the world, but what kind of a supervillain name is Brain Cells?

Mister Miracle (in Superman of Metropolis #1-2): It's Shilo! But what is here wearing?!

Because of relativistic physics, from Metropolitans' perspective, the city was under glass for months. A fight, but not much of a story, because it's immediately after the bubble-up.

The Guardian (in Superman of Metropolis #1-2): We're 6 months in, much better. It's the Guardian from 7 Soldiers, that's cool too. In fact, I love the idea of a hero who protects and informs, and if he's not gonna be in New York, Metropolis is the perfect place for him. They created a thematically appropriate villain too.

Superman: Worlds at War #1-2: Superman's become a gladiator on Warworld (not by choice, obviously), but most of the story is taken up by a young woman who visits a group of people who were saved by Superman once, and have many theories about his possible death or where he's gone. Only SHE really understands what Superman was about, and I feel like it's a message squarely aimed at a branch of fandom that never understood the character (some of which have been making films about him, cough cough).

But wow. The three intertwined stories - the girl's, Superman's, and that of a veteran Clark Kent once wrote about - brought a tear to my eye. Wow. Wow. Wow.

Mister Miracle (in World at War #1-2): Hey he's back, and he's on Warworld! Well, seems to me an escape artist is the perfect thing to have on a planet-sized slave ship. Nice bit: Shilo had Mister Miracle action figures made and they never sold, so he turned them into grenades.

Midnighter (in World at War #1-2): What did I say about Wildstorm? Ugh. Midnighter is on Warworld too. It's ultraviolent hogwash. I don't CARE if it (timey-wimey) continues in Action Comics after this!

Black Racer (in World at War #1-2): Jeremy Adams does more world-building for Warworld than any story ever before. The Black Racer is a new character tapped into the spirit of the original, a fearless mech-racer trying to free her friends from Mongul's ship. At the end, I wanted to read more, so that's a success.

Nubia (in Immortal Wonder Woman #1-2): They've really made a push to use Nubia lately, and in current continuity, she just became Queen of the Amazons; outside of it, she got an original graphic novel. In 2030, she's Wonder Woman (but not for long). I'm sorry to say I found this story a real snooze and it did nothing to make the character interesting.

So in 9 years, I might be reading... Aquaman, The Guardian, and Superman: Worlds at War (which I would hope would include roles for Mister Miracle and Black Racer).

2035...14 years from now
Green Lantern #1-2: Okay, so right away, they New52ed G'nort. That's him on the right.

In 2021, the Great Battery is destroyed and all the Green Lanterns lose power and are stranded wherever they are (except Hal Jordan for some reason which will be explored in GL comics to come). What we find out is that they are all still up to the task. Guy Gardner has an amusing story here. Hal's and Teen Lantern's are just 5 minutes into the futurem but Hal meets the GL of the Future State Justice League, so that would be her first chronological appearance.

2040...19 years from now
Justice League #2: I said everything I wanted to say in the previous article. The second issue predictably fixes the problems of the first. I'll be reading this one in 20 years. (Who should join? Well, Miss Martian makes the most sense.)

2050...29 years from now
Wonder Woman #1-2: These are some gorgeous, gorgeous comics. The Wonder Woman who was not born an Amazon but became one was already an intriguing character in Justice League, but Joëlle Jones (story and art) not only makes her more compelling 10 years later, but funny too! In this story, she dares go to the Underworld to get the soul of a sister Amazon back...

No wonder DC went straight to series with this. As Wonder Girl, she'll hit the stands soon. And I'll be there for it!

Kara Zor-El, Superwoman #1-2: Another very pretty book, in which a grown-up Supergirl tends to an Eden for refugees on the Moon - bit of futurism now that we're 30 years out - though they play with that stupid New52 notion of the "angry Supergirl", even if she's found peace.

Superman vs. Imperious Lex #1-3: The Federation of United Planets starts in 2050?! And it's already based in Metropolis?!

That's ker-azy! And yet, it's a great way to set up a fight between Superman of Earth and Luthor of Lexor. Yes, Lexor is in this! Lots of amusing political humor, but it also has something to say about the last few years of media and politics. And you can't go wrong with Yannick Paquette either.

So in 30 years, I might be reading... Superman of the United Planets and Wonder Woman!

2070... 49 years from now
Superman/Wonder Woman #1-2: These guys aren't aging, but maybe humanity just finds the fountain of youth in the next 50 years... We're getting further out so DC One Million references are possible, like the return of Solaris the Tyrant Sun. I like that thing, but only in a Yara WW comic would he have to compete with a sun god on a space horse!

Yara is still a great wit here, so I was satisfied. If she's in it, I'm readin' it.

3000... 979 years from now
Superman: House of El #1: The descendants of Kal-El (and their allies, like the freed slaves of Warworld) defend a city on the Moon from various threats. Everybody wears an S-shield, you don't get to really know much about any of them, and it's all a bit blah.

Legion of Super-Heroes #1-2: Presumably, this is sometime after 3021, since the Legion is aways 1000 years in the future and here they need to "get back together". But did it HAVE to be the Bendis Legion? Here's the thing. He had all the members revamped and the book was confusing the old and new reader alike. Now enter a cartoonist so extreme, it's even harder to know who's who, AND they've redesigned all the costumes AGAIN.

Then they wrap up a mystery that happened between issues. Between 5YL and the Reboot, I feel like I've read that storyline already anyway.

In a 1000 years, I may not be reading anything at all, thanks.

4500...2479 years from now
Swamp Thing #1-2: I don't know how Infinity Inc.'s Obsidian can be in this story, but... it's definitely a "Last Swamp Thing Story" set in a post-apocalypse where Swampy has built his own race of people. Not bad, but I'm on the last stretch here and yawning through it.

82,020... well now I'm dead for sure
Black Adam (in Suicide Squad #1-2): So the DC One Million timeline is still intact, good for Justice Legion-A. Or not so good because the Unkindness, from Flash, Teen Titans and Shazam, earlier today, is finally(?) making her move. In those earlier comics, it possessed people with the Four Horsemen; now she's doing it with the Deadly Sins. I know she spent time in the Rock of Eternity, but it's still odd. And when all is thought lost...

It seems Booster Gold and Blue Beetle had a kid, like we always knew they would.

The End of Time... who knew DC Comics would last this long given the current economy?
Immortal Wonder Woman #1-2: Well, I guess we lost against the Unkindness and I'm not sure when the universe ends, but it may be before DC One Million. Timey-wimey. So this is a meditative dirge about hope and perserverence, with Diana the last person in the universe not going easily into that good night. The book is all over the place, but the ending is a good one.

Annnnnnnnd that's it! I've done it! All of Future State in about 16 hours, 14 once you take out the breaks. Hope you enjoyed that, I'm off to bed and I'll see you... in the future.


Ryan Blake said...

So far so good sir


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