EARTH 2 #21 (Tom Taylor, Nicola Scott & Trevor Scott) has been part of a line that’s consistently been, if nothing else, interesting. In a relaunch that’s been mostly empty of anything resembling creativity, the idea of taking how the original DC universe was built on the foundations of older heroes passing the concept to younger and flipping it on its head was probably the best creative decision they made.
Earth 2 has given us a world where Bruce Wayne is dead, and in his stead his father is Batman, using the drug MIraclo to give himself an hour of power, taking the role in the original Justice Society that Hourman filled, as well as being a clever not to the pre-crisis Batman.
Earth2 has been a pretty neat book as far as DC’s superheroes have been concerned,
stylistically it suffers from the same attempt to seemingly recapture The Dark Age of comics that the rest of the DC universe has been.
In a way, it modernizes the concept of the legacy hero – after all, how much can you say you really take from your grandfather instead of say, your parents, or just the people close to your own age you look up to? Earth 2 makes the age disparity between heroes have much less of a gap. Batman might be Bruce’s dad on Earth 2, but he’s really the only one. Superman is only probably in his thirties compared to the Earth 2 Jay Garrick – who in the pre New 52 timeline was grey haired by the time Superman took up the cape.
What this issue does is move events forward in the ongoing storyline of “The Death and Return of Superman” in away. Where in the regular universe Superman is currently facing Doomsday, on Earth 2 Superman was one of the heroes to fall against Darkseid.
Yet Superman didn’t stay dead – instead he fell victim to Darkseid’s mental brainwashing and exists as little more than a strong-armed pupped of the leader.
Earth 2 takes place in a somehow even more grim reality than the rest of the New 52,
so how exactly does this issue measure up? well…
Like almost all DC books nowdays, EARTH 2 is confident to jump around between a handful of point of view characters at any given moment. Perhaps more fitting to EARTH 2’s nature as ‘not part of the main timeline’ there’s a little more actual suspense that goes on in seeing something like Jay Garrick be tortured on a slab than it would to see something like that happen in THE FLASH, where you know the protagonist isn’t going to be in any immediate danger.
This issue plays to more of EARTH 2’s strengths, which is being able to get away with putting people in danger. People aren’t as generally attached to the Earth 2 heroes as they might be to others, so we’re allowed to see them suffer to greater extents. EARTH 2 is a series that has been about the many ways we can make our heroes suffer! through loss, as with Superman and Green Lantern, or through failure – as with Thomas Wayne. That’s helped in no part by the stakes always being absurdly high.
Halfway through this issue we see Alan Scott face down an army of Parademons, pretty much by himself. It’s a well composed battle for the small amount of pages the issue is able to dedicate to it, and we always get a good glimpse of what The Green enables Alan Scott to do when his mettle is tested.
With as much as each issue builds up the scale of Alan Scott’s power, it’s looking like he might be the new DC juggernaut even more than Superman. Maybe next time DC/Marvel rolls
around, we’ll get a chance to se a Thor and Alan Scott Green Lantern match up.
Nicola Scott runs art on this issue, and turns out another EARTH 2 that’s on point when it comes to superheroics. Characters are appropriately chiseled as they apparently should be – by this point i’ve sort of given up hope for seeing more artistic diversity on DC’s main titles.
There’s a reveal at the end of this issue that’s been slowly hinted at over the last couple of stories we’ve seen told in EARTH 2; yet even with that reveal we’ve been too caught up in the tension involving Red Arrow and Batman to actually notice it.
So when the panels do peel apart and we see a new Kryptonian standing triumphant, it’s nowhere near as grandiose as it should be – maybe had it happened an issue earlier we might’ve had the appropriate reaction. Instead, when the end of this issue rolls around you’re still just going to be worried about Jay Garrick and Alan Scott, far behind enemy lines and seperated from their companions in a story that could pass for a Greek odyssey.
What pulls at me the most in EARTH 2 (and a lot of other stories) is that every issue is swimming in text bubbles and exposition. It’s a nice break from dialogue-heavy theatrics when we see Alan Scott cut loose agains the aforementioned Parademons, but do we so need to jump quickly into heavy-handed melodrama immediately after?
We’ve seen the characters in EARTH 2 both rise and fall in equal merits, and we’ve now come to understand that in many ways, the Superman, Batman and company we’re more flawed than their regular Earth counterparts might be.
Yet we’ve not really seen how their ‘descendants’ are any better than they are – they still have the same failings, they still play the entire game Darkseid’s set up as more or less lone wolves.
The tone of EARTH 2 has us set at wanting to believe this new group of heroes is somehow superior, but had yet to actually show it.
To bring things full circle, the big reveal at the end of this issue is undermined by the tone that EARTH 2’s stories have created, versus the tone the creators want to enforce.
I don’t believe this new Superman is going to be any better than the old, because so far he’s shown the same unwillingness to deviate from what he knows and has learned as the other EARTH 2 Superman had.
EARTH 2 $24 is watching a daytime soap-opera and not knowing who dies.
The series strength has often been its dramatic tension, and that’s fairly obvious here. I feel like that if someone had to name a New 52 book that was really attempting to carve out its own niche, EARTH 2 is the more prepacked and acceptable version of things that JONAH HEX and JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK tried to do.
Eventually maybe the heavens will descend on us though, and we’ll get a DC series where the tone the creators are capable of creating is exactly the same as what’s presented by what happens in the story. Until such a time arises, you can always go back and read the last thirty or so issues of JONAH HEX.