Saturday, 4 October 2014

Superman: Futures End #1 - DC Comics

SUPERMAN: FUTURES END No. 1, November 2014
The major selling point of this one-shot title has to be without a doubt the stupendous Ken Lashley 3-D motion cover which not only depicts the Man of Steel in all his glory but the masked Superman variant costume as well. It’s certainly the only reason I was willing to hand over good money for it. Coming into “DC Comics” whole New 52 reboot a couple of years too late I’m rather unfamiliar with a lot of what’s taken place, or rather hasn’t taken place considering that the publisher has apparently erased vast swathes of notable DC Universe history. I’m also not sighted on the eleven-month weekly limited series “Future’s End”. But many will be aware that there has been a new-look Big Blue soaring above the rooftops of Metropolis recently and that for a while no-one knew whether he was the genuine article or not because the American cultural icon had taken to wearing a mask. Issue 17 of “Future’s End” revealed that the man beneath the hood was none other than Captain Marvel and so this comic, entitled “Haunted”, deals with the fall-out from that revelation.
Written by Dan Jurgens, who did such a stellar job scripting “Captain America” (Volume 3) back in the Nineties for “Marvel Comics”, this book tells a simple tale as to the motivation behind why Billy Batson traded his red and gold costume for blue and red tights, and donned a mask. Put simply, the once homeless newsboy feels guilty that having saved Shazam from the treachery of Black Adam, Superman faced his (possibly ultimate) fate during the Earth’s battle against Apokolip’s armies alone. There’s a real sense of childish logic behind this sentiment that suitably fits the character of Captain Marvel. I can genuinely see that such a boy ‘trapped’ in a man’s body really would believe that they were in some way responsible for the World losing its Superman and feel obliged to try and make amends by keeping the Man of Steel alive… in some form at least.
Unfortunately any lasting impact Jurgens storyline may have upon the reader is swiftly and utterly destroyed by some simply appalling artwork and colouring by Lee Weeks and Dave McCaig. Ordinarily I’m a fan of the early Nineties “Daredevil” comic book artist, especially his black and white pencil work, but clearly something has gone spectacularly wrong with this book’s illustrations.
There’s little to no depth to the majority of the panels, some appalling approximations of human anatomy and a ghastly green sickly hue to everything. Lois Lane’s interview of Billy Batson in particular simply consists of a series of thin weedy pencil lines grotesquely coloured in bland shades of yellow and cyan. Indeed I’m far more inclined to believe the fault lies at the door of the Canadian colourist as opposed to Weeks, and can’t help thinking that this comic would have been so much better if its penciller had simply inked their own work and produced a monochrome visual medium instead.

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