I’m so desensitized to the ridiculous, over-the-top violence in DC’s books that I didn’t even notice when Batman got his arms chopped off during the climax of this comic. I mean, let’s face it, that was the third arm to be chopped off so far, after Captain Cold got sliced in the opening pages. Clearly, DC has created yet another TOTALLY RADICAL TO THE EXTREME COMIC that shows COMICS AREN’T FOR KIDS, TOUGH GUY!
There is something to be said for a good alternate reality/alternate future storyline. The danger lies when the situation is too repetitive and when you go to the well too often. DC steps in both narrative piles in this premiere issue.
So let’s think of the recent alternate future/world storylines where we saw our heroes brutally massacred. (The main strength of these stories is in playing “spot the character” right before their heads get blown off.) We have Age of Ultron, which even had robots taking over the world. We had Flashpoint, which was a similar “spot the angry hero” book. Rotworld is an example that came out in the DCU just a few months ago. And heck, the main villain, Brother Eye, was the main antagonist for much of the Infinite Crisis era of tripe that came out and necessitated the New 52. This has got to be a record, right? The panned storyline that killed the DCU is ALREADY being repeated?
The other risk is that when you are constantly telling What If’s and alternate futures that feature gory deaths, the bar gets raised. We JUST saw these heroes warped and turned in Rotworld. It isn’t amazing or shocking seeing it again so soon. And as for the deaths? There are so many that those are in danger of losing their impact too. After Flash, Captain Cold, Blue Beetle, John Stewart, Amethyst, and Grifter, does anyone really take Batman's death seriously?
The only thing I found interesting in this comic was the introduction of Batman Beyond. As someone too old to have seen the cartoon, I don’t’ know the character. I want to see what inspired the fans who love Terry so much. But I don’t see anything yet, because the star of Future’s end only appears on about a quarter of the pages in this preview comic.
This thing has a bevy of writers (and artists) but to be honest, I didn’t detect a real tone from any of the folks involved. Maybe a bit of Jeff Lemire’s grossness from Rotworld oozed through in the form of those dismembered spider-robots that used to be heroes. But other than that, no characters actually speak enough for any particular writers’ voice to come through.
The art has that same house look that so many DC books are sporting these days. It is a little surprising that Dan Jurgens and Ethan Van Sciver can make their pencils mesh so well, but that says a lot about how effectively their styles are merging into the DCU style.
As many other reviewers have said, this is a perfect Free Comic Book Day issue. It shows you exactly what the new 52 is all about, and it promises more of the same. EVIL.