[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers.]
Writer: Dan Abnett
Pencillers: Bruno Redondo (Batman Sequence) & Diogenes Neves (Firepattern/ Huntress Sequence)
Inkers: Juan Albarran (Batman Sequence) & Ruy Jose (Firepattern/ Huntress Sequence)
Colorist: Rex Lokus
While Earth 2: Society may not fall under the Rebirth banner, it is utilizing some of the main themes of the Rebirth initiative — legacy and family. It should come as no surprise, the original Silver/Bronze Age Earth-2 featured these two themes as well. Perhaps, the most significant character concepts to feature these was Batman. In the first appearance of the adult Dick Grayson in Justice League of America (Volume 1) #55, he sports a Batman-inspired costume while still maintaining his Robin identity.
As Earth-2 developed during the Bronze Age, it was revealed that Bruce Wayne had married Catwoman and this union brought forth a daughter, Helena, who would one day become The Huntress! The Huntress became a fan favorite even gaining a back-up feature in Wonder Woman for about four years (Wonder Woman Vol. 1, #’s 271-321). Earth 2: Society Annual #1 focuses on the Bat-Family of this “New 52” version of Earth-2. While the characters are not the same, Dan Abnett does a wonderful job of embracing the feel and concept of Earth-Two in this series. While it hasn’t always been on solid footing, Abnett has improved this title and concept in the “New 52” era through solid storytelling and spotlighting characterization. This is his best issue, yet.
This issue tells a story with a two sequences that are interwoven throughout the issue. It picks up directly from Earth 2: Society #15 just after Dick Grayson (Batman) has discovered that the Ultra-Humanite’s operative, Firepattern, is actually his son whom he had believed to be dead. In the present, Dick explains to his son the legacy of Batman (Bruce & Thomas Wayne) and the Huntress (Helena Wayne) on Earth-2. This sequence is so engaging because it’s all about character and emotion. Throughout Dick’s narration as he also explains his own feelings and his belief that the mantle of Batman is a cycle of sacrifice to the death, we are treated to the Huntress being a total badass as she takes down the Ultra-Humanite’s top operative, Grief. While the plot doesn’t move the story forward much, the time spent on character is indispensable for great storytelling. If you don’t care about these characters now, you never will. Firepattern doesn’t sound like a great Batman sidekick name, but who knows what John Grayson will become by the end of this arc.
Character is big with me. Dick Grayson is shown to be a complex individual with all the subtleties of a real person. He shows weakness and doubt, all while having proved himself worthy of the mantle of Batman. It’s heartwarming when his son shows his confidence in him to be Batman. Even though this Dick Grayson didn’t grow up under the tutelage of Bruce Wayne as Robin, it feels right for Dick to be Batman. Neves and Redondo make the transition between artists feel seamless. It’s not one of those stories that requires different approaches to enhance the narrative. Consequently, these two pencillers manage to share duties on this book and make it feel like one story.
This is a very strong issue. Even if you don’t have any previous exposure to the title or the Earth-2 concept, it’s hard not to enjoy the emotive aspects of this issue. The characterization is strong enough that it draws the reader in to the overall story. Hard to find fault here.
If you’ve never read Earth 2: Society, this may be the issue with which to start. If you are a long time reader, this should inspire confidence in the future of this title. At the very least, this is wonderful issue. Perhaps, unintentionally, it also makes one pine for a Huntress solo series. Well done, well done.