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Comicscape: Earth 2

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Comicscape: Earth 2

Who's on second?

By Joel Rickenbach     October 03, 2012

Why only introduce one new world when you can introduce two? When DC launched their New 52 universe just over a year ago, the idea was to wipe the slate clean, start fresh, unchain themselves from decades of broken and convoluted continuity. Writers couldn't just jump on to a new book without doing thesis-paper-level research, and god forbid something you wrote didn't jive with a story from 1962 that had already been retconed 27 times. I never envied the DC editors and writers sitting on the dais at a comic con panel. I remember watching Dan Didio trying to explain to a room full of of DC faithful the reading order for Final Crisis and Batman RIP. He had charts and everything, but the assembled masses were still full of blank stares or utter disappointment. There are some who will tell you, if read in the proper order, and during the correct phase of the moon, those stories are a masterpiece, but the fact that they are so entrenched in so much twisted continuity, it may as well not even matter. Grant Morrison referred to his Final Crisis as "The comic book equivalent of flipping through the channels.", and that's exactly how it read, but the larger problem was DC comics as a whole began to feel that way. Now, this was not by accident- multiple earths/dimensions is a DC hallmark. Couple that with storytelling that has its eye on the golden and silver ages, rather than the future, and you have a recipe that the diehard DC fans kept alive for decades. That's not a condemnation, there's plenty of styles in the comic world to go around, but DC's continuity was reaching critical mass, and they decided to break out the brooms, hence the New 52. But here's the fascinating thing- during DC's latest round of title rotation (read: canceling the lowest selling books, and launching new ones in their place), they debuted another universe- Earth 2. So, the question is- after unifying your books under one banner, is it wise to start mucking about in an alternate universe already? 
Here's the refreshing thing- Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are dead. The first half of Earth 2 issue #1 details the final battle between the "Three Wonders"  and the invading forces of Apokolips. The iconic three give their lives to save Earth 2 from countless Parademons, and their general, Steppenwolf. Their sacrifice works, five years into the future, Earth 2 is returning to normal, and the deceased holy trinity are worshipped like gods. In fact, it is a god who descends upon Earth 2 to spark a new era of heroes. Trading Greek mythology for the Roman flavor, the god Mercury falls to earth like a shooting star, and encounters a college age Jay Garrick. He proclaims it's time for a new age of wonders, and before he crumbles to dust he imparts his power to young Jay.  Now Jay has a new look, and he's fast. Really fast. Alan Scott is the CEO of a large multinational corporation. He has a deep respect for the fallen heroes that saved the planet, and an ever deeper love for his boyfriend, Sam. So much so that he has a surprise for him on their getaway trip to Hong Kong. While on the train, Alan takes that big step, and produces a ring, asking Sam for his hand in marriage. It's a sweet moment that is ever so fleeting, as the train explodes a second later. Somehow, Alan is alive, and possibly delusional, as a ghostly green flame hangs in the air in front of him, even stranger is that it begins to talk. Much like the god Mercury, this flame is searching for someone worthy, and it believes it has found that person in Alan Scott. All it needs is an object from Alan to focus the power he is about to inherit. Fittingly, Alan chooses the engagement ring he was going to give Sam. The ghostly flame claims the ring will harness the power of a lantern, and crafts it into a very familiar shape... As the first few issues progress, we are introduced to a new Hawkgirl, a new Atom, and the first villain to Challenge these new wonders- the grey man with the power to decay-Grundy. The old version of Earth 2 was DC's sandbox for the 1940's Justice Society of America characters, who they eventually folded into their main universe. Whether these Earth 2 characters ever merge with the New 52 proper remains to be seen, but the origins and formation of the JSA is certainly the focus of this book.
There's a lot to like here. Instead of the JSA being the heroes from a bygone era, they are the beginning of a whole new age; a complete reversal from their old DC counterparts. Even more surprising is that the set-up for Earth 2 is actually more interesting than the main New 52 universe. Earth 2 already has a history to mine, and current state that is refreshing compared to the blank slate that is essentially the New 52. Writer James Robinson has done in one book what 50+ others haven't really accomplished- truly giving us something new. It's very smart to take a reboot, and use it to usher in a second age.


There's another book that falls under the Earth 2 banner, but in a very different way- Worlds Finest featuring Huntress and Power Girl. There were a few other heroes fighting alongside the Earth 2 trinity, they just don't have statues and holidays dedicated to their memory. Helena Wayne (daughter of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, formerly Robin, now Huntress) and Kara Zor-El (cousin to Superman, formerly Supergirl, now Power Girl) were prepared to give their lives for Earth 2 as well, but at the moment of destruction they were sucked into a portal, and found themselves on the New 52 earth. In the five years since, they've adopted new names and monikers on their quest to find their way back to Earth 2. What I like about this book most is it's an all-female team up with the added alternate world twist. In fact, its even a twist on the previous Superman/Batman book, with a gender reversal. The banter between them is nice, and I'd actually like to see a little more of that, and a little less of the typical, giant radioactive monster fights. Speaking of the action, another boon for this book is the dichotomy between the uber-powered Power Girl, and the street smart detective prowess of Huntress. Writer Paul Levitz finds ways to make them both viable in a fight, to which I say "bravo".


My take away from these two books is- if the New 52 hasn't been your cup of kryptonite, then maybe take some time to visit Earth 2. It's nicely contained to two books, and you can really just read Earth 2 if you want your otherworld kicks. They're pretty as well, Earth 2 artists Nicola and Trevor Scott put out some nicely detailed pages, the panels with the god Mercury particularly stick out. And the tandem of the legendary George Perez and Kevin Maguire are a nice visual mixture as we bounce between flashbacks and the present. The books aren't perfect, there's still that DC reliance on the golden age feel, and as a whole I think the publisher has a dialogue problem, but Earth 2 is an enjoyable place to be, and has enormous potential. Launching a second universe so soon may not have been the right choice, but when it outclasses your main marble, it can be a decision that's hard to argue.

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Joel Rickenbach is a curator of cult cinema at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA, and can be heard every week talking film, TV and other geekery on the You’ve got GEEK podcast. Follow him on Twitter and hilarity will no doubt ensue.


Showing items 1 - 6 of 6
jedibanner 10/3/2012 6:13:38 AM

I admit I gave DC a chance with their new reboots but there's been so many changes of staff and new books with characters I don't really care, I gave up many of the new DC books (and now that Jim Lee is leaving JLA...that prettu much leaves me done with DC for a while).

I think DC is doing what Marvel has done with the Ultimate line where it's just getting too big and it's all ongoing series so it will eventually get stuck with too much history so for me, the whole thing has lost interest.

Glad to see The Boys and A Vs X is ending today, 2 great series.

karas1 10/3/2012 8:07:02 AM

I've been enjoying the Earth 2 books.  They do have a nice feel to them.

The new 52 slate isn't as clean as you think.  They do have some history.  And my favorite title, The Legion of Superheros seems to have, from what I can tell, pretty much kept their continuity intact.  They had a 6 issue "origin" miniseries but that didn;t seem to have anything new or different from the origin stories I remember.


shac2846 10/3/2012 9:32:56 AM

 I wait on trades so if earth-2 is actually good I'll get it. But it would be James Robinson's first good book in a long while. Going to have to get that death HC and the walking dead compendium 2. 

jedibanner 10/3/2012 10:26:33 AM

My mystake, there is one more issue for ''The Boys'' after the new one this week.

Not that I'm begging for it but, haven't seen too many reviews of the Watchmen's series in a while...a sign it's no longer as ''good'' as it started? Just kidding...

alienstatue 10/3/2012 10:33:34 AM

I haven't read Earth 2 but this article describes it well enough that I'm interested now. Cool article. I also like the idea that JSA is not from a bygone era but is the start of a new era with Superman and co. being dead.

But at one point you mention that it remains to be seen if the Earth 2 characters will merge with the New 52 universe, but doesn't World's Finest prove that's what DC is doing? Or do you mean all the characters, not some?



joelr 10/5/2012 10:15:59 AM

@karas You are right, the reboot is not squaky clean by any means.

@jedibanner AvX wrap up next week!

@alienstatue I was referring more to the idea of Earth 2 eventually folding into the regular New 52 universe, like the original Earth 2 did in DC's old continuity. I brought it up because if they were to do that it would be a real shame. The set up for the Earth 2 universe is so much more interesting, I really want to see them run with it. There are some rumblings of a New 52/Earth 2 crossover...

The Earth 2 books are by no means amazing, but they are fun, and have a lot of potential.



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