Written by Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Dan Jurgens and Keith Giffen.
This is a long, complex story, so I’ll focus on the Wildstorm segments exclusively.
Thirty five years from the present, the artificial intelligence Brother Eye took over the world and assimilated nearly all human life, turning people into mindless killer androids. The remaining superheroes have a desperate plan – to turn off something called the Firestorm Battery, so that Brother Eye won’t be able to continue powering his satellite and controlling Earth’s heroes. Grifter and Amethyst are tasked with it, but their planned distraction goes awry and they’re found. Soon after, an assimilated Green Lantern vaporizes the two of them. With no other options, Batman Beyond (Terry McGinnis) travels to the past to stop that reality from taking place, to murder the man responsible. However, he and his helper A.I. A.L.F.R.E.D. miss the target date and instead of arriving in the present they arrive five years from now, where Brother Eye’s plans are already in play. That’s the premise of the story. Every issue takes place in an alternate timeline, five years in the future and disconnected from the other DC Comics.
Brother Eye is an artificial intelligence built by heroes Batman and Mr. Terrific in 2011. It was first created within the satellite known as Brother I, using Mother Box technology from the alien world of Apokolips. It was originally created to monitor the activities of Metahumans, vigilantes and other superpowered individuals to protect humanity. However, Brother Eye quickly gained sentience and went rogue, prompting the Justice League to shut it down. However, it managed to rise again, only to be shut down, several other times. It was defeated by the organization Checkmate and the Justice League International before jumping to a new satellite. By this point, its Apokoliptan origins drove Eye mad. Its quest to stop humanity’s differences compelled it to attempt to impose a complete, draconian order and uniformity to all humans, an action which led it to believe itself to be a God as well as the Anti-Life Equation.
In this bigger body he learned about alternate Earths, especifically Earth-2, which he kept a lookout for. He witnessed its population losing a war against Apokolips, so he sent a beacon to try and rescue the survivors. The peple from Earth-2 were able to follow the signal and jump to Earth-0, but they were followed by Apokolips’ forces. Some heroes from Earth-2 attempted to self-destruct their ships to let the others escape, so Eye teleported them inside its satellite. Soon after he was boarded by agents of Project Cadmus, led by Slade Wilson. They kidnapped the heroes from Earth-2 and tried to shut down Brother Eye, who transferred its intelligence to the Cadmus shuttle. Going back to Earth with them, Eye landed on Cadmus Island, where Cadmus hid all of the Earth-2 superheroes to experiment on them. Brother Eye hid on the island’s systems, awaiting to act while playing along as Mister Terrific’s AI. Ironically, Batman Beyond is followed when he travels through time by a killer android, and Terrific stumbles upon this robotic corpse, giving him the means to develop the technology which will create the doomed future.
Meanwhile, all the other Earth-2 survivors landed in Earth, followed by the endless Apokolips troops. As Earth started defending itself, what followed was called the Earth-2 war. After the war, the governments of the world responded with hostility to the new interdimensional refugees, and scientists such as Mister Terrific developed new ways to detect who is from Earth or who is, in fact, an Earth 2 alien.
StormWatch in this timeline has a different lineup; they have lost Jenny and the Projectionist and gained Hawkman (Katar Hol) and Mermaid (Nina Mazursky). They were travelling the Bleed in the Carrier when an unknown force pulls them out into the Huron System, in the farthest reaches of known space. They lose control of the Carrier, which starts attacking them, and Engineer is taken over by Brainiac, who speaks through her and says everything StormWatch has done was in preparation for the ultimate threat; he is the storm they were created for. Apollo flies outside to try to find what’s causing all this, but he’s immediately vaporized! The mysterious enemy infiltrates the Carrier and causes it to self-destruct.
Back on Earth, paranormal organization S.H.A.D.E. sends agent Frankenstein, the Atom and Amethyst into the rests of the Carrier to seek out survivors. They find the corpses of everybody but Engineer and Apollo, and it turns out Hawkman isn’t really dead – the Nth metal in his body always brings him back. Suddenly, his StormWatch emergency communicator starts going off – Engineer is alive, and calling for help. All the heroes but Atom track the signal to a nearby planet, but the ship shuts down as they hit the atmosphere. They crash into a technological world and are swarmed by Brainiac’s robots – among them, an assimilated Engineer. She takes the heroes out, and they spend the next few weeks locked in a prison. They are visited by the controlled Engineer, who wishes to take them to her master. She reveals they aren’t in a planet, but rather in Brainiac’s spaceship, the size of a planet: The Blood Moon. Back on the rests of the Carrier, Atom is visited by the Shadow Lords, who name him the new leader of StormWatch; of a new team for a new era.
Back in the Blood Moon, StormWatch is taken in front of Brainiac, who is a giant now, but suddenly Atom shows up, and he brings Black Adam with him. The heroes start fighting Brainiac and his minions. They know they can’t win, so they take Angie by force and escape in the Atom’s ship. They’re chased by many robots, but once they’re far away from the Blood Moon Angie returns to normal. They arrive on the rests of the Carrier with the evil robots behind them. Atom begins giving out orders like a good leader, telling Engineer to reboot what’s left of the Carrier. However, they lost their navigation system, so they can make a jump, but they could end up anywhere. Needing to get rid of all those robots, they make a jump for it…
Meanwhile, Grifter is back in the game of seeking out daemonites and slaughtering them. What’s more, his powers have been developing so now he can spot not only daemonites, but also Martians, Earth-2 doppelgangers, all kinds of undercover life forms. He now works with a guy named Justin; he’s Cole’s tech guy, cataloguing alien types, adapting their technology so that he can use it against them, keeping tabs on those they know about. Cole found him after he was tracking daemonites to Justin’s home; his parents had given up their bodies to daemonites and they were about to do the same thing to Justin. After Cole saved him, they started working together. Presently, Cole brought a living daemonite to Justin, who is experimenting with it and trying to create a dispersible agent to kill them in clusters.
Justin informs Cole he’s being tracked; an agent called King Faraday disguised himself as an FBI Agent and is hoping Grifter gets one tiny scratch in one of his missions so that he can be identified on one of his crime scenes. Unable to get to him through conventional means, King teleports right next to Cole and shoots him in the back. If he wants to heal his spine, he’ll have to agree to King’s request to go work for him. He takes Cole to Cadmus Island, where he’s healed through their superior technology and forced to work alongside Slade Wilson, Deathstroke. They are followed around by Fifty Sue – a nearly omnipotent girl who gets pissed off easily, Cadmus’ first attempt at creating a superhuman. Cole’s job is to use his detecting powers to seek out any hidden superhumans – Cadmus wants to collect them and experiment on them.
After Cole has been gone for a few weeks, Justin does what they had previously agreed in case anything happened to Grifter – to go with Voodoo. She agrees to take him in. In this timeline, Voodoo works for black ops – she did dirty missions for the government that were needed during the Earth 2 war. But now they are sending goons against her, trying to take her out. Voodoo and her girls decide to go straight to the source and confront their old boss: Sargent Rock. He explains he only ever sent “loose end operatives” against them – people he needed to get rid of. He knew the girls were never in any real danger. In fact, he wanted to attract their attention. He reveals he worked for Cadmus all along, and now he needs the girls’ help: He wants to take out Fifty Sue, who is too powerful to be controlled.
Back in the island, Cole is attacked by a mysterious invisible robot – an OMAC, as they call the guards in the island. Investigating, they come across a researcher from Earth 2, Lana Lang, who joins Fifty Sue’s happy family. It seems the island has been experiencing several glitches, like the stealth OMACs or the fact that the chips installed in the Earth-2 captives have been growing in size somehow. Suddenly, all of the captives start being controlled through their chips, and they escape from their cells and take over the island. Having been chipped, Cole is controlled too. Brother Eye has made his move; it knows a group of superheroes are coming to rescue the trapped Earth-2 heroes. Cole is put to sleep and along with Fifty Sue, Lana and Deathstroke they manage to escape. Sue teleports and faces Brother Eye, where they strike a mysterious deal. Stripping Cole from his chip, the team regroups with Faraday and they head to a bunker.
Grifter reveal his power has evolved to the point he can spot superhumans from normal people, and Faraday is one of them. Deathstroke is mad that Cole didn’t tell them, but Cole never agreed to go to the island to start with. Tired of all the danger, Faraday simply uses his powers and teleports away. Fifty Sue doesn’t care – she has an evil computer overlord to beat. However, Brother Eye plays mind games when it shows Sue a recording of Deathstroke agreeing to protect Eye until it can be plugged outside the island, onto the world’s systems. Grifter doesn’t know about this, though. He wants to get out of the island, but all of the boats are fitted with retinal scan security, and Deathstroke’s the only one with access. And he says they’ve stil gotten work to do: the island has a vault filled with DNA samples, and he wants to secure it.
Faraday teleports to Las Vegas, to Sargeant Rock, and Fifty Sue goes after him with a mere thought. She throws him a tantrum because of being betrayed by Deathstroke, saying she wants a new team to take him down. Right at that moment, Voodoo walks in, having the ideal team with her. At the same time, a group of heroes lead by Green Arrow storms the island, and begins battling Brother Eye’s OMACs. Seeing them, Deathstroke shows his true allegiance and attempts to shoot Cole, but he’s killed by Fury, a heroine. Green Arrow hits the failsafe Cadmus has installed. As everybody leaves by boat, including Grifter, the island blows up. What they don’t know is Brother Eye is catching a ride with them, hidden in one of their cell phones.
To be continued…
Next: “Future’s End: Teen Titans” issue 1, written by Will Pfeifer.