A glowing spirit who looks like a Superman made of sand (henceforth known as Sand Superman) travels the world, giving select individuals superpowers for brief periods of time. Meanwhile, Clark Kent tries to grow plants in a desert with no nutrients.
This issue focuses on one of the strongest aspects of Superman: his status as a giver of inspiration. With Kal-El no longer gracing the skies, the Sand Superman tries his best to fill the void. The Sand Superman is very careful about who he helps: a suicidal woman, a gambling addict, an abused child. Desperate strangers across the globe gaining superpowers could have been played a lot darker, so it’s to Sholly Fisch’s credit that he plays it for hope.
The emotional stakes of this issue are hard to grasp out of context. I haven’t been reading THE NEW 52: FUTURES END, so I don’t know if it makes more sense coming from there. From the summaries I’ve researched and its focus on the absence of DC’s favorite Kryptonian, probably not. Whatever the case, it’s certain that newcomers to the FUTURES END-verse will be feeling a tad (or more) adrift.
Don’t get me wrong. Everything makes sense (as much as they do in superhero comics). It’s just that without an emotional context, it’s harder than it should be to care. We know that Superman has given up superpowered heroics, but we have little idea why. Knowing would have made it more meaningful when the Sand Superman tried to give Clark the inspiration to take to the skies again. Knowing would have made it more meaningful seeing Clark toiling in the Ethiopian desert on an impossible task.
The explanation for Sand Superman is fairly weak. I don’t usually need elaborate explanations (although I do enjoy them) but some might be annoyed the story behind Sand Superman’s existence is basically a shrug.
ACTION COMICS: FUTURES END #1 is a neat little done-it-in-one tale.