This week, as part of DC Comic’s September “Futures End” event, we got a two-part story from writer Charles Soule that spanned Wonder Woman: Futures End #1 and Superman/Wonder Woman: Futures End #1. It involved a lengthy dream and a time travelling Superman, and was set in a hypothetical future that exists only to give DC another weekly series that won’t at all matter or probably ever come up again once it’s done. In short, these two issues were a colossal waste of time. I’ll explain why momentarily, but first:
I am going to discuss significant plot details from these two issues!
Don’t read any further unless you’ve read the issues!
Unless you’re skipping the issues but are curious about what happened. I can understand that.
Let’s begin with Wonder Woman, where Wonder Woman was engaged in a war in some sort of mystical realm with an entity called Nemesis. Wonder Woman commanded legions of dead soldiers via her god of war powers, and had a council of generals that included Alexander the Great and Napoleon, the latter of which was traitor who was summarily dispatched. She rescued a trapped platoon, met with her council and killed the fake Napoleon, and then decided to go full berserker god of war and take the fight straight to Nemesis, at which point Superman showed up. That was the end of the issue.
So I opened Superman/Wonder Woman, and guess what? That whole adventure was just a dream. Nemesis had trapped Wonder Woman in Tartarus, where she was fighting demons as an apocalyptic battle played in her head. Superman, time-travelling for some reason, snapped her out of her fog and the two escaped Tartarus and returned to Paradise Island. Wonder Woman then defeated Nemesis by transforming into a white-clad god of peace. The end.
Both issues were aggressively bad. The Wonder Woman issue not only made very little sense, it was rendered immediately pointless by Superman/Wonder Woman. Nothing that happened in Wonder Woman mattered, at all. Not one bit. Which is sort of the theme of all of “Futures End”, I suppose, but still. It was a completely pointless issue to set up a similarly pointless issue of Superman/Wonder Woman that accomplished pretty much nothing but a costume change. Nemesis was defeated, sure, but Nemesis was only a threat so that this two-part story could exist. I have no idea if this time travelling Superman plays a role in the wider “Futures End” event or if god of peace Wonder Woman will have a significant role now, but as a two issue storyline this was just a mess.
The writing wasn’t good, as evidenced by the bizarre structure and poor storytelling, and the art didn’t help things either. The art in Wonder Woman was serviceable at times but generally dull, lifeless, and oddly coloured. The art in Superman/Wonder Woman was slapdash and unappealing. There was just nothing enjoyable going on in either book, from the covers through to the end.
And here’s the thing: I am absolutely fine with stories that are completely pointless and will never come up again, so long as they are good. On a whim, I picked up Batgirl: Futures End #1, Gail Simone’s final issue writing the character. It was set in this “Futures End” world that, again, will no longer matter at all once this storyline is over, and had a story that really had no bearing on anything outside of the book itself. And it was WEIRD. A Bane-inspired Barbara Gordon managed a troupe of Batgirls after her brother killing her husband sent her on a quest to infiltrate and learn from some of the world’s top criminals. But guess what? It was really, really good. Simone’s writing was sharp, hitting the emotions of the dark moments while bringing in humour and making all of the crazy goings on work somehow. And the art was fantastic; the book looked great, from the cover through the entire story. And while it’s as pointless and ephemeral as these Wonder Woman stories, it offered something fun for fans, namely Stephanie Brown in a Batgirl suit again and the long awaited return, however fleeting, of Cassandra Cain. It took what should be a throwaway issue and made it mean something, plus it was just a really good, enjoyable read.
Wonder Woman and Superman/Wonder Woman combined didn’t have a fraction of the heart, fun, or style that Batgirl had. In terms of craft, they were poor. In terms of entertainment, they barely registered. In terms of giving the fans some small thing to be excited about, they had nothing. They just felt like really bad filler.
Let’s end this review on a positive note, because I’ve been trashing these books pretty hard. I do like the god of peace outfit. The white with the gold accents looks sharp, I dig the tall boots, and it’s a look I’d be interested in seeing more of in some capacity elsewhere. I don’t know where or how, I just know that I like the costume. And if you’re going to have only one interesting page over the course of two issues, I suppose you may as well make it the last one so you can go out on a high note.
Apart from that one page, basically what I’m saying here is skip those two issue. And go do yourself a personal favour and pick up Batgirl: Futures End #1 because it is a delight. It’s a big, complete story in 20 pages with lots of fan favourite characters and great moments, and it’s a wonderful cap to Simone’s run on the book. It will bring you joy.