In what seems to be a run-up to a clash on multiple Earths of the Multiverse, DC Entertainment released a poster yesterday promoting The New 52: Futures End.
The upcoming, weekly series will be teased with a free #0 issue on Free Comic Book Day next month. So far, while we've seen a handful of solicitations, there hadn't been much in the way of solid information about the series.
The floodgates seem to have opened a bit with this latest teaser, which depicts a number of characters from cancelled comics, some who appear to be from alternate earths or futures, and some characters who are entirely new.
Okay, so first thing's most obvious: This whole image seems very inspired by the work of M. C. Escher. That might mean nothing, except a cool way to present all these disparate characters in a manner that's visually interesting and not too revealing.
Then again, it could relate to Vanishing Point, a place outside of time that has a very unconventional structure/appearance. Home to the Linear Men, Vanishing Point was most recently the base of operations for Booster Gold and Rip Hunter prior to the relaunch...and has served that purpose, at least for Booster and Skeets, in the new DCU as well, as Booster referenced it.
The Cadmus Project is tied to Jack Kirby's Jimmy Olsen and Newsboy Legion stories, and was prominent in the '90s Superman run when Dan Jurgens (one of the writers and artists on Futures End) was attached to Superman.
Jurgens has made it his business not to repeat himself much in the New 52, in spite of being attached to many of the same characters he was pre-relaunch (he wrote and drew Green Arrow and Superman, both before and after the launch of the New 52). So it's likely we won't get the same kinds of stories he's already done with them before.
That said, a group as keen on cloning as Cadmus is might have a real interest in trying to replicate Superman, which could come into play with this strange, masked figure wearing a variation on the Man of Steel's costume.
Red skies/The Bleed
It's easy to look at this image and say "Red skies! DC's signifier of a Crisis! But with members of Wildstorm's transplanted Stormwatch crawling around the landscape, it's more likely that this image is taking place in The Bleed.
The shared emphasis on “U” spheres (as opposed to Mr. Terrific's T-spheres) with the prominent “U” in the Cadmus logo raises questions as to whether the two are connected.
We know that the Brother Eye satellite, longtime enemy of O.M.A.C. and plot device extraordinaire for Infinite Crisis and a number of its lead-in and follow-up stories, will play a major role in Futures End. That's reinforced here, as Brother Eye's logos are...well, everywhere.
What's that ship?
Any idea what that giant spacecraft is behind Hawkman? We're at a loss.
Check out the top left. That seems to be the entrance to the Batcave, suggesting that the locales pictured on the Escher drawing are relevant to characters standing near them. In front of or around the Batcave? Robin III, Booster Gold and two different iterations of Batman.
...and the characters?
Booster Gold, as we've noted in the past, is one of only two people who is physically the same person in the new DC Universe that he was before Flashpoint (the other being Barry Allen). Both of them were outside of time when the reboot rolled through history, and could be a key to understanding more about the Multiverse and DC's fractured history.
Note the straps across his legs and the minor tweaks to his uniform since the launch of the New 52 (and even since the last time we saw him in All-Star Western). It seems plausible that this is the older, more experienced Booster Gold who works for A.R.G.U.S. and was last seen in the Justice League International Annual which featured the disappearance of "our" Booster after Superman and Wonder Woman kissed and time, apparently, went all wonky.
That appears to be Robin III (Tim Drake) from the pre-relaunch continuity. That costume is fairly distinctive, and to our knowledge, Tim has worn nothing like it in the New 52. So...is that Robin -- traveling with time-traveler Booster Gold -- from another world in the Multiverse, or is he simply "our" Tim plucked from a different point in the timeline?
3. Batman Beyond
This one's the most self-explanatory, except of course that he now somehow exists in the DC Universe as we know it. Terry McGinnis makes his first DC Universe appearance in this miniseries...but is his future our future?
This particular Batman costume has been widely speculated to belong in Batman Beyond as well, but a fan pointed out that it has actually shown up in one of the "possible future"-type stories that has been told in the New 52 (perhaps in Detective Comics #27?). I don't know that's true...can anyone chime in at the comments to suggest where it might have come from?
This is a new look for Firestorm, and while there isn't a perfect match, you can look through various different iterations of the character and be pretty sure you're going to find some that are pretty close. As you can see above, Firestorm isn't exactly the most consistent dresser.
Of course, there's a chance that's actually Fury, the dark Firestorm that was unleashed once before when Ronnie and Jason seemingly exploded. That name has popped up in solicitations...!
6-7. Unknown (Emiko and Diggle?)
Who are these pair (large man and girl or small woman, next to Mr. Terrific)? Could it be Emiko and Diggle? With the "death" of Green Arrow in the Five Years Later timeline, perhaps they've joined up with Mr. Terrific in hopes of solving the crime? Or some other goal...
There's the added wrinkle that it doesn't particularly LOOK like them, though, so who knows? It may turn out that these are new characters, multiversal opposite numbers of familiar ones or...somebody we didn't think of.
8-9. Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rausch
Those two kids fighting appear to be Jason Rausch and Ronnie Raymond. Could their squabble have something to do with Firestorm's surprising new look? Doesn't seem like an unreasonable assumption to make.
10. Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.
One of a number of characters on the poster who have had their own comics cancelled since the launch of the New 52, it seems DC is keen to put together a Forgotten Heroes-style book where characters with strong high concepts can come together in spite of low sales on their previous outing.
I can't get a handle on who the guy in the bottom-right corner might be. John Lynch? Maxwell Lord? A new character altogether? Somebody else I'm not thinking of?
It doesn't seem totally unrealistic to think the character is connected to Cadmus, since nobody is explicitly tied to the organization, which has its name on that part of the Escher landscape, and he's wearing a name tag.
I've seen some folks suggest he could be Baron Winters, but my guess is he's elsewhere in the image, if at all.
12. Mr. Terrific
Mr. Terrific is one of the characters who's already been seen traversing the Multiverse in the New 52, so even more than anybody else, it seems worth asking: is this "our" Mr. Terrific or another one? An alternate Earth might be another explanation for the U-spheres.
13-15. Unknown (?)
The three figures in the middle (near Frankenstein and Amethyst) are interesting; if I had to guess, I'd say they're all Dark family characters, tied up with magic and the like, and that it's a redesigned or alternate-universe Orchid or Nightshade along with Baron Winters. The big guy? No clue. Anybody?
My reasoning behind calling the guy with the long white hair the Baron is that while the dark haired fellow in the corner looks more like the "traditional" version found in Who's Who all those years ago, the more recent iteration of the character had the long gray or white hair.
Grifter, who had his own series as well as appearing in Team Seven, appears here. He's one of a number of WildStorm characters at the bottom (particularly bottom left) of the image. Could this lead to the long-rumored return of WildC.A.T.S.?
As noted, Amethyst -- who most recently starred in Sword of Sorcery -- shows up here, hanging with Frankenstein and some other supernatural-seeming types.
18-19. Midnighter & Apollo
More former StormWatch members who shows up at the bottom of the page. Given his proximity to Hawkman, could this all be connected to the Superman/Grifter storyline that The Savage Hawkman writer Rob Liefeld had planned, or to the appearances of WildStorm big bad Helspont?
...And look! Here's the Savage Hawkman himself. Could that unidentified ship be connected to Thanagar, or a threat that his people are tied to/have experience with? It could help explain why he's off in a corner with the WildStorm heroes who typically are treated with a much more cosmic/sci-fi sensibility.
21. Masked Superman
Who is Masked Superman? That's apparently what Lois Lane wants to know, according to solicitations...and she's not totally sure he's a good guy. We see him fighting Rampage in one of the solicitations, but that tells us little since she's been a friend to the heroes as often as a foe.
22. Lois Lane
She appears to be just standard-issue, non-Multiverse Lois Lane. We'll see.