Editors Note: All editorials are solely the opinion of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of DC Comics News or its staff.
For those of you who read this column on a semi-regular basis (so… no one), you probably know that I’ve ranted about continuity before. Comic books are, by and large, soap operas about superheroes. I don’t mean that in derogatory way, it’s just that nothing ever really changes in the DC universe. Sure we get reboots and relaunches and alternate timelines, but the core characters remain, more or less, unchanged. We always have Bruce and Clark and Diana at their physical peak, somewhere between their late 20s and mid 30s. Sidekicks come and go, love interests die off, but everything returns to the status quo in the end.
Well, as with many familiar and traditional elements of the DCU, that’s about to change. And possibly not for the better.
DC has announced a brand new weekly series coming this spring called The New 52: Futures End. It takes place, as the title implies, about 5 years in the future (kind of. Sometimes.). Apparently, it may also brings Batman Beyond into mainstream continuity. This concerns me greatly.
Setting up the future of a story is a risky move. Very rarely does it actually pay off. This is for many of the same reasons that prequels rarely work all that well: if you know what’s going to happen, it kind of kills the suspense. The caveat is, of course, if you set up an intriguing enough mystery, your audience will want to stick around to see how things got there. Again, in many cases the actual answers are far less satisfying than you might hope.
DC tends to do glimpses in “possible” futures quite well. The “possible” part is why they excel at it. Seeing one way a future could turn out takes the pressure off the stories taking place in the present to match that future. As DC has proven time and again with their creators, artists often tell the best stories when left largely unrestricted.
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know how DC is going to handle the whole Batman Beyond thing. Five years seems like way too little time to have Terry McGinnis arrive on the scene and become Batman with Bruce waiting off on the sidelines. During his Batman opus, Grant Morrison established that it wouldn’t even be Bruce but rather an older Damian who takes Terry under his proverbial bat wing. With Damian dead now (there’s that whole “possible” futures thing at work), it’s a total mystery what’s going on with Terry.
We did get to see a prototype of the Beyond suit (more as a brief moment of fan service than anything substantial) in an issue of Batman this year, but that’s no guarantee that Bruce will still be the one under the cowl five years from now. There’s been speculation that Dick Grayson could be the new Batman Beyond given that his New 52 outfit shares a lot of similarities with the Beyond costume, but that really raises more questions than answers. I’ve made it known to the rest of the DCCN staff that if DC pulls some crap like saying Tim Drake’s real name (since now “Tim Drake” is a name he got from the witness protection program) is Terry McGinnis, I’m just gonna rant for days on end. Let that be a warning to you all.
Solidifying what happens in the future makes everything that’s going on now, effectively, a prequel. You know why prequels suck? Because characters have to remain static. There’s no tension, no growth, and there are way too many forced fan-service moments.
I’m a big fan of Batman Beyond and I really, really hope DC doesn’t mess this up. They’re already positioning this as the next 52, and we all know how Countdown turned out.