The world of the future is a harsh and brutal world, unsuitable for the heroes of the past. It’s a world where Bete Noire reigns supreme. But her teacher is about to return deliver a final lesson… Your Major Spoilers review of Batgirl: Futures End #1 awaits!
Previously in Batgirl: Futures End #1: Barbara Gordon is Batgirl, the brightest and most hopeful of the Batman Family. As driven by love as her role model is by his loss, Barbara has had to make a number of hard choices in her past, but what choices await her in the future?
THE FUTURE AIN’T WHAT IT USED TO BE
Terrible ones, it seems. Two years from now, on the happiest night of her life, the return of her insane brother James Gordon, Jr. shatters Batgirl’s life forever. I don’t even want to spoiler this one for you, folks, just be aware that it’s wonderfully written, and makes you care deeply about characters whom we’ve never met before this issue. It also leaves Batgirl shattered and willing to abandon Gotham City for good. Three years further down the line, we find a League of Batgirls confronting a group of thugs in the alleys of the city. (Long-term DCU fans might be happy to know that, at least in alternate future continuities, both Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain get to be Batgirl again.) The LoB works for a mysterious benefactor known as Bete Noire, the very mention of whose names sets the thugs into panicked backpedaling. The setup for this issue is expertly done, filling in the blanks between that Barbara Gordon that we know and Bete Noire, daughter of Bane. The art in this issue is uniformly beautiful, with the three Batgirls provided with unique costuming and color patterns, as well as incredibly expressive faces and body language. The traditionalist in me is a little bit thrilled to see the continuity nods in play, especially given the number of fans left adrift when previous iterations of Batgirl were thrown aside for the New 52 launchboot.
WHEN ALL SEEMS LOST
Of course, the arrival of Bane to confront his “child” is pretty much inevitable, leading us to what seems to be the darkest end of all the darkest timelines, but then ends with a pitch-perfect Batgirl moment. It’s rare enough in the New 52 for a character to be hopeful in nature, but this issue ends in the most perfect way possible, and makes me very sad for the first time that this future world is probably never going to come to pass. Many times, when reviewing an issue, I’m afraid to give details of the story because it might ruin things if you knew the twist that was coming, but this issue is one that I don’t want to spoil for a different reason: It’s masterfully paced and crafted, and even if you see where it’s going to end, you’re going to get a lovely ride. This is one of the finest and most complete issues in recent memory, with the setup, story and conflict all folded together into a perfect origami giraffe of plot and character.
I want you to go buy this, because I want you to enjoy it the way I did.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A LOVELY ISSUE
If you need more motivation, I’ll give you one last push: This is Gail’s last Batgirl tale (at least for a while) and it serves as a perfect wrap-up for all the adventures that have come before, as well as acknowledging the ghosts of stories lost in the purge of 2011. Batgirl: Futures End #1 is that wonderful synthesis of concept, story and art that comes along only once in a while, and the ending is one that is both foreshadowed and surprising, with delightful new and new/old characters in play, earning 5 out of 5 stars overall. I wish that everything Futures End was this well-crafted…