The future ain’t what it used to be, which is a good thing for Kate Kane, the Batwoman of Gotham City. Now that she’s been turned into a member of the flapping undead, who can stop her bloody reign? Your Major Spoilers review of Batwoman: Futures End #1 awaits!
Previously in Batwoman: Futures End: Katherine Kane was a marine, until she was drummed out of the service due to her sexuality. Now, she fights injustice in Gotham City as Batwoman, all the while trying to balance her out of costume life and relationship with police captain Maggie Sawyer. Five years into the future of the DCU, Kate has somehow been bitten by a vampire, becoming an undead monster herself, and turning on her friends and family. Now, her twin sister (formerly the villain known as Alice) has vowed to hunt her down…
TURNABOUT IS FAIR PLAY
I admit it: I haven’t been enjoying a lot of Futures End, and I’m not entirely sure what putting such a focus on a clearly doomed and grimdark future is for, save maybe to make the current DC Universe seem less oppressive. That said, I wanted to see what might happen with Kate Kane, one of the grittiest (and successful at being so) of the current lot. Five years from now, Alice, aka Kate’s identical twin sister, has been returned to sanity, and the issue starts with here recognizing the irony in the need to murder her sibling, given their history. Batwoman, for her part, is a mad vampire, slashing her way through Gotham City, murdering Ragman, Jason Blood, Clayface (possibly) and Maggie Sawyer with her weird fire-breathing vampire ways. Alice is lured in by a ruse on her sister’s part, and their battle ends decisively, as all fights between twins do, with one dead and one grieving. It’s a story that has resonance, don’t get me wrong, but once again the lack of detail and build-up because of the remote future setting hurts the story’s emotional power. As someone who has been reading Batwoman’s adventures since the beginning, even I felt that this was a fragmentary what if story at best, rather than the big wrap-up that it should have been.
The art on this issue is kind of puzzling for me, in that it is clearly meant to evoke the work of JH Williams III (who launched Batwoman in her own feature post-52, and only left the regular Batwoman book a few months ago), but doesn’t quite have the same polish. Facial expressions, especially Alice’s, border on the eyes of madness to me, and while I appreciate the touches of Batwoman’s vamp-form (blood-red wings that resemble her cape, talons for feet), it’s inconsistent in the look of them throughout the issue. The ending battle is well-choreographed, but something about the big reveal when sister murders sister doesn’t read correctly, thanks to a sudden change of perspective by the artist. The completed art feels like cross between Darwyn Cooke and Mike Mignola, and has more of a stiffness than Williams’ previous bat-work which, when combined with the lack of context in the story gives everything that happens in the comic a dream-like and remote feel that doesn’t really stick with you after reading.
THE BOTTOM LINE: NOT MY FAVORITE FUTURE BAT-TALE
As crossover madness one-shots go, I’ve read much worse, and the creative team here clearly has chops and enjoys the world of Batwoman, but I’m just not feeling this story. One of the major supporting characters doesn’t seem to get named in the comic at all (though I’m assuming him to be a Clayface) which makes his death less meaningful. All told, while I appreciate what they were going for, Batwoman: Futures End #1 ends up a pretty overage comic with some occasionally bizarre art, earning 2.5 out of 5 stars overall. There’s something to be said for showing us the futures of our characters, but unless there’s some consequence to the modern-day tales, it can be a hard row to hoe…