Every month, Brian Salvatore will take a glimpse at “Earth 2” from James Robinson and Nicola Scott, and address one aspect of the book in an in-depth column we’re called “Greetings From Earth 2.”
The fantastic image above is by Tim Daniel. Check out more of his work here.
Although the title in the interior of the book is “Heaven Sent,” the cover insists on calling this issue “Flight to the Death!” That title isn’t just bad, it’s really, really dumb. Like, unbearably dumb. I’ve ranted and raved elsewhere about my frustration with titles/solicitations that completely mislead, and while Hawkgirl and Green Lantern speak somewhat tersely, and their weapons are drawn, there is never a sense of real danger. In fact, their conversation is far more about getting to know each other, and pushing Scott towards embracing an alliance.
Kendra and Alan are the second most interesting pairing this issue, as Wesley Dodds and Amar Khan are the center of this issue and, for the first time, providing the series with a clear direction going forward.
While a book about the goings on of an alternate Earth could be interesting, having a plot in place is always preferable. And now, the Khan and Sloan battle of the wits appears to be where the book is going to be focused for the near future. They will both assemble allies and the cast will continue to expand, but their duel appears to be the heart of the book for now, and it is a welcome direction.
Michael Holt returns, both from his absence in the pages of DC Comics, and from the death grip that Eric Wallace had on his character. After arriving from New Earth, Sloan subdued, brainwashed, and enslaved Holt in his headquarters. Dodds and his Sandmen rescue him, and even though Khan knows nothing of him, recognizes his importance.
Why do robots need to be anatomically correct? Regardless, Red Tornado is, in a combination of the two prior incarnations, a female android, and her lifeless body is a pretty apt metaphor for Khan’s position of impotence right now. But, will his power grab coincide with Red Tornado’s awakening?
When Sloan and Khan are arguing a “Captain Steel” is brought up. This is most likely the New 52 version of a character known as either Steel or Commander Steel (Henry Heywood), who was created in the late ’70s by Gerry Conway and retconned to be a World War 2 era hero. His grandson, Henry III later became Steel, a member of the Detroit-era Justice League, and another grandson, Nathaniel, who was a JSA member in the mid-aughts under the title of Citizen Steel.
Captain Steel, likely shedding his American colors, the Atom, Holt, Dodds, and Red Tornado appear to be the first soldiers in the war between Sloan and Khan. They also make up a nice cross-section of Golden Age heroes that might normally be considered second tier or lower. By having Green Lantern/The Flash/Hawkgirl as the focal point of the series is smart from a sales standpoint, even if the real business of the book is taking place away from those familiar faces, at least for now.
More than anything else, the modern-era incarnations of the JSA have all stressed family. The JSA takes in young heroes, gives a place for old heroes to continue to contribute, gives legacy heroes a chance to shine, and generally takes care of its own. The family dynamic was hugely important to the team.
And in this issue, Kendra checking up on Alan felt, for the first time, like a JSA moment. Families push each other, frustrate each other but, ultimately, have each other’s backs. That is what this book needed, and this issue delivered.
This book is, after wrapping up its initial arc, finally moving forward, and the path is beginning to get more clear. The book is growing in various directions, but each one has a tether to the main story, the World Army story, which keeps the book feeling unified. My one complaint about this book has been the pace, but this issue quells that fear (just in time for a single issue Fury/Steppenwolf story next month – d’oh!)
Two month fill in Yildiray Cinar does some fantastic, subtle work in this issue. Cinar, a veteran of “Legion of Super-Heroes” and “The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men,” doesn’t get too many opportunities to show off his action work, but excels in small character moments, like this one, of Alan Scott as a broken man:
1. Dr. Mid-Nite, Pieter Cross, is due to emerge from the darkness soon
One of the few Norwegian heroes is the third Dr. Mid-Nite, and both his skillset and his nationality make him the perfect fit for this book. As the more global Justice Society emerges, it is conceivable that Khan or Sloan would do tests on the blind, to enhance their eyes with sonar or infrared technologies. Hell, that sounds plausible in real life, not just in comics. The scientific background along with the European heritage seems to make Cross the next JSAer to appear.
2. Could Steppenwolf be the key to traveling the Multiverse?
Michael Holt has already traveled the Multiverse, as have Power Girl, Huntress and, presumably, Sloan. We know that Apokolips has the ability to travel the Multiverse, as both New Earth and Earth 2 have been attacked by their forces. Could Steppenwolf be responsible for all of this? Sloan, the smartest man of Earth 2, would potentially be able to divine where Steppenwolf was hiding and, perhaps, shelter him for a price. That price? The ability to travel to alternate Earths. It would help him dispatch of two of “the eight” in Supergirl and Robin, it would help him lure Holt to his Earth, and it would provide him with unlimited resources. I would not be surprised if Steppenwolf and Sloan are working in tandem.
If you have questions, angry diatribes, or holiday cookie recipes to share, please post them in the comments below, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Next month – An Amazonian and An Apokoliptan walk into a comic.
Thanks for reading, and see you in 30 days!