"Crossroads": In Ethiopia, Clark Kent has been spending his time trying to do some good for the starving people by planting gardens, though water is scarce, and the nutrients the plants require are too. Clark has to try, because hope has to survive, whether his v
- I have reached out to dozens of people who stood at a crossroads in their lives. I gave them an opportunity to realize their potential and make a change. Some chose to better their lives and those of the people around them. Others failed.
Action Comics: Futures End #1 is a one-shot with a cover date of November, 2014. It was published on September 3, 2014.
Synopsis for "Crossroads"
In Ethiopia, Clark Kent has been spending his time trying to do some good for the starving people by planting gardens, though water is scarce, and the nutrients the plants require are too. Clark has to try, because hope has to survive, whether his vegetables do or not.
Elsewhere, a woman prepares to commit suicide by leaping from an upper ledge, but to her surprise, she flies instead of falling.
Elsewhere still, a young gambling addict named Donny finds himself under attack by his bookie's thugs, and realizes he has unexpected strength that he uses to fight off the thugs. His friend Nick witnesses this, and realizes that they need to lay low, but Donny intends to cash in on his new-found ability.
Meanwhile, a young boy named Jamie watches as his parents fight again; his abusive father violently knocking his mother across the room. Jamie decides to take a stand between his father and his mother, and ends up receiving a slap across the face - but he feels nothing. Angrily, his father grabs a walking stick and breaks it over the boy's head, and again, Jamie is unfazed. His father is disturbed, insisting that this boy can't be his son. Jamie turns to his worried mother and comments that he can't feel her.
The flying woman is surprised suddenly by a figure approaching her. A figure resembling Superman, but made up entirely of sand. He explains that her gift was only brief, and he must reclaim it, so that she can continue to grow. She begins to drop to the ground, and claims that she doesn't want to go back to normal. He responds that it is too easy to see the beauty from up high, but it is a greater challenge to see the same beauty in life from the ground up - and that is the challenge she faces now.
Donny ignores Nick's warnings and decides to use his power to break into his bookie's stash, and steal his money. When he punches the wall, though, he breaks his hand and screams in agony. The sand Superman appears again, warning that strength should not be mistaken for invulnerability.
The sandy Superman appears to Jamie and his mother, too, explaining that a lack of sensation is the price of invulnerability without the benefit of super-human senses. He denies that he is the real Superman, explaining again that he has only offered a brief gift, which Jamie used well, to protect someone he loved. He explains that they have a brief window now, to escape his abusive father and seek a more lasting kind of protection.
At the hospital, the suicidal woman decides to check herself in, to see a psychiatric professional as Donny sees a doctor for his crushed hand, and Jamie's mother receives counselling in getting out from her abusive husband's grasp. Jamie spots her and offers her a sip of his drink, and though she refuses, she admits that he was kind to offer.
Clark continues to work the dry ground in Ethiopia when he receives a visit from the sand man as well. Confused, Clark demands to know who this man bearing his resemblance is. The being explains that he isn't sure what he is - though he may be nothing more than a way for the world to fill the gap left behind when Clark gave up being Superman. Clark responds that he still does good, if only on a local level. The man responds that is was always a quality of Superman to inspire others to reach their full potential. Without the real Superman, he was able to give others the ability to do good when they stood at a crossroads in their life, so that they would realize their full potential on their own. Some succeeded in turning their lives around, and some failed. But with each encounter, he felt himself growing stronger, and now he has finally achieved the level of strength required to repay Clark for his inspiration.
The man flies up into the air, and explodes in a sandstorm. When Clark looks to the ground again, he sees that the dry dirt of the desert has become rich topsoil. His follower's last act was to restore the land's potential - but was that the last challenge, or was it all meant to show that Clark isn't living up to his own potential?
Appearing in "Crossroads"
- Sand Superman (First appearance)
- The Sand Superman appearing here is an analogue for the Sand Superman of Earth-One.
- This issue is reprinted in Futures End: Five Years Later Omnibus.