Of all the characters changed in the New 52, by far one of the most radical reboots had to be that of Solomon Grundy. What was an entertaining dumb muscle character wound up being reimagined by James Robinson into a monstrous plague upon Earth 2, the avatar of the elemental force of death itself.
Grundy was the villain for the first story arc of Earth 2, and he was one of the largest threats possible for a group of new heroes just learning how to use their powers. But whereas we knew the origin of the old Solomon Grundy (Gotham mobster turned swamp zombie), what about this new one? Was he ever alive at all? Does he want pants too? Both of these questions are answered (I’m not even kidding, the second one is actually answered), but are these answers good? Well…
Matt Kindt tells a very simple story here, and sometimes simple is good. The book takes place in two time periods on Earth 2. First is the modern day, which shows Grundy coming back from the moon, where Green Lantern Alan Scott had left him in Earth 2 #6. The second time period is the year 1898, where in Slaughter Swamp, Gotham City, a man named Solomon lives with his wife Pinney, their newborn child, and a woman who I presume is his mother (she has no lines, nobody ever mentions her, and she’s only in one panel, so I have no idea). They work for Boss Henry, at his slaughterhouse, where apparently he treats them like slaves.
I think this is supposed to imply that sex is involved, but honestly, I have no idea what’s going on here.
It’s hard to talk about the writing here, because the book is really bare bones. What we get is the origin and return of Solomon Grundy, with nice and horrific storytelling. There’s a bit of murder, some uncomfortable truths about American history, and a crying baby thrown in for good measure.
But the real highlight of the book is seeing Grundy’s return from the moon. While I can’t say for sure, it seems his power has been diminished a bit, so he’s not the crazy overpowered threat he was in at the beginning of Earth 2, though he’s still enough of a threat to be taken seriously.
The art is really good… for a superhero book. Aaron Lopresti and Art Thibert give clear, bold figures, and Michael Atiyeh provides nice, varied colors that stand out. This is generally everything that makes a modern superhero comic look good. However…
I’m gonna level with you folks: this review took me forever to write, because I didn’t want to face the truth: This book isn’t good. It’s a book about a character I really like from a writer I really like, but every writer, no matter how good they are, can write something bad, and Matt Kindt does that here.
Perhaps he is overworked (not only does he also have Harley Quinn and Deadshot this month, but there’s the work he’s been doing on Suicide Squad, the upcoming Forever Evil: A.R.G.U.S. miniseries, and he’s taking over Justice League of America for Geoff Johns).
Solomon Grundy is an incomplete story. The supervillain elements are too prominent, and the horror elements aren’t prominent enough. We get an origin story, but it doesn’t quite make sense, and leaves us with more questions than there are answers. And since we know that Matt Kindt isn’t going to be writing Earth 2 in the future, I doubt we’ll be getting them any time soon.
Although the art was quite good out of context, this project should have drawn like horror book. Darker colors, sketchier lines. I don’t usually ask for things to be darker and grittier, but comic book art should reflect and enhance the content.
They could’ve done so much with this image if the art matched the story’s intended tone.
But this book has no soul. The story is just too bare bones. I think that it could have greatly benefitted by removing the scenes with Grundy in the present and showing us more of the past with Solomon. Who was he, really? What was he like? We see how he became the monster Grundy, but why did he, and how did he get involved with the Grey? There’s so much here that needs to be improved on, and I think it’s going to be a while until we get a satisfactory answer.
This was a book I really wanted to like, but things just didn’t wind up that way. It’s a shame too, because Matt Kindt stated at one point that Grundy was the darkest, most messed-up thing he’s ever written, so I was expecting a lot more. The book’s cover looks nice and scary, but that’s it. If you want some good horror, I recommend checking out this week’s Eclipso or Black Hand one-shots.
Earth 2 #15.2: Solomon Grundy #1 is available digitally and physically with a normal cover for $2.99 USD, and with a special 3D lenticular cover for $3.99 USD.