Earth 2: Society #4. Daniel H. Wilson- Writer, Jorge Jimenez- Artist, Alejandro Sanchez- Colorist.
The first two issues of Earth 2: Society really struggled to present a coherent plot line. Last issue presented a really great character piece with its focus on Lois Lane/Red Tornado. With issue #4 we have an improving story and some more of that character work coming through with Val-Zod, even if it’s a bit clichéd. This title seems to be headed in the right direction after a muddy start.
Val-Zod’s in a bad place, Earth 2’s current Superman is looking for a place to heal. Unfortunately for Val, Batman, as always shows up to make him face the truth. Batman believes that Val is responsible for the murder of Terry Sloan last issue. After a few obligatory punches, the Flash steps in to help set Batman straight. Val then launches into a recounting of his story since Planetfall and his falling out with Kara/Power Girl.
We get to learn that Val and Kara had developed a relationship during the World’s End period of Earth 2, and Val was devastated when he thought he lost her at the end of that series. After her return when the ships crashed on New Earth 2 a year before the beginning of this series, they tried to build a place for them in Neotropolis. While things seemed all wine and roses, a new character crept up to cause problems- Anarky. Tracking this one down eventually led to Kara and Val confronting Sloan in his command ship. In the process, Sloan throws Val under the bus as he reveals that during Val’s time in Sloan’s captivity Val was working on the development of the fire pits that Sloan was seen igniting way back in the original Earth 2 series during the battle with Darkseid.
As Val convinces Batman of his innocence with his tale of woe and self-pity, the calls comes in that a giant spaceship his headed for a crash landing on Neotropolis. And painted on the side of that spaceship-
The conflict between Superman and Batman was clearly a nod to the modern take on the relationship- an emotional vs intellectual take on events. The character moments for Val-Zod really helped propel the story even if some moments were clichéd. The big picture is starting to come together, the first issues were a bit nebulous and I can only imagine they will function better when read as part of the whole arc in one sitting.
This book is making it difficult to really like anyone. Val’s self-pity and self-loathing upon his confession to Kara is a bit too clichéd, and so is Kara’s reaction considering he had no idea what he was doing when he was working on the fire pits. Dick’s Batman is still a bit of a cipher- saying all the right things for a Batman, but not really coming through as his own character.
All in all this issue continues to be a step in the right direction for this book. It’s not quite there, but it seems like it has the chance. Wilson needs to find a likable character on which to focus. It seemed like he had found that character in Lois/Red Tornado last issue, but neither of those characters has historically sold a lot of comics beyond Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane in the ‘50’s.