When “Earth 2” was originally announced, it was presumed to be a book that featured the characters from the classic incarnation of the Justice Society of America (JSA from here on out): Jay Garrick/The Flash, Alan Scott/Green Lantern, Ted Grant/Wildcat, etc. However, when solicit information was released about “Earth 2” #1, the cover of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman fighting Parademons got people asking if the book was going to be larger in scope than just a JSA book; would it truly be taking on the task of telling about all that world’s heroes?
Well, the day has come where we can answer that question, but be warned that doing so reveals major spoilers about the issue, so proceed with caution.
Written by James Robinson
Illustrated by Nicola Scott
First issue of an ongoing series from writer JAMES ROBINSON and artist NICOLA SCOTT!- Who are the heroes of EARTH 2 — and what befell them?- Starring ALAN SCOTT, JAY GARRICK and many others!- You may think you know Earth 2…but this is DC Comics — The New 52, where anything can happen!- Don’t miss the extra-sized debut issue!
So, to re-state the question, is this a JSA book or is this a book about the larger heroics of Earth 2?
“Earth 2” begins five years ago, much like “Justice League” #1, with the invasion of Earth by Apokolips. However, instead of this being the first stand of the superhero, the world knows of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman already. In fact, it appears that those three, along with Supergirl and Robin, make up the entirety of the heroes of Earth 2.
That is, until they all die or disappear.
Unlike in “Justice League,” the heroes don’t emerge for a photo-op after taking down the Parademons; they go down saving their Earth. And with that, all the pre-release hoopla about Superman being changed by Lois Lane’s death and Batman not having his “no-kill” ethos goes out the window. And with Robin and Supergirl entering the Boom Tube that will take them to the New 52 Earth, Earth 2 is devoid of heroes – until the final page teases the birth of The Flash next month. DC managed a bit of misdirection here, and good for them – they managed to give the people what they want (a JSA title), while amping up the stakes and approaching it in an unique way.
Ok, leaving all that silly plot and marketing aside, let’s talk about the actual comic.
First of all, this issue is a thing of beauty; Nicola Scott’s attention to detail and emotive style really shines through in this issue. The Parademon invasion is presented about as epically as possible, yet each character, Apokoliptan or not, is presented as uniquely and individualized as possible. Despite being different from the versions we know, each member of the so-called Trinity is presented in a classic manor, with slight alterations. Kal’s grace, Bruce’s intensity, and Diana’s heritage are all written across their faces, and with little exposition to confirm it. Scott excels at conveying emotion in all situations, from the mundane (Garrick drinking alone) to the tragic (Diana being impaled by Steppenwolf).
However, the real star of this issue is James Robinson, who manages to take a book full of action and stabbing Parademons and let the characters themselves take front and center, even though we lose most of them before the book is done. There is more characterization in these pages than in many of the first 8 issues of the New 52. I know more about who this Jay Garrick is than I do about Aquaman, despite him appearing in two books, written by a guy (Geoff Johns) who is known for giving his characters depth.
Robinson clearly has a love for the Golden Age characters, and has done his best work when embracing those characters’ pasts while plotting their futures (cough Starman cough), and that, in a roundabout way, is what “Earth 2” needs to do. More so than any other book DC is publishing, this is a book that must convince the purists that the DCnU is here to stay, and that these stories can match the ones they know and love. Because people understand why Superman needed to be spruced up, and why Aquaman getting a push towards the front was important; very few people I know felt that the JSA was broken. But unlike other “working” franchises, like Batman and Green Lantern, the JSA wasn’t left alone – it was blown up.Continued below
And it is with those broken pieces of over 70 years of stories, characters, and tropes that Robinson must construct “Earth 2.” So far, Robinson is the sole architect working on this planet, so he doesn’t have to worry about sharing these characters with anyone else. Robinson is given carte blanche to re-establish these versions of the Golden Age characters as not just the older, stodgier versions of Hal Jordan, Wally West and Ray Palmer, but as the original and, hopefully, greatest versions of Green Lantern, the Flash and the Atom.
And while many people have expressed a dissatisfaction with de-aging the elder class of heroes, and while I can empathize with them, I think that if DC really wants to give people a younger batch of heroes (and they certainly appear to), I will take a younger Alan Scott to no Alan Scott at all any day. Whether or not this retcon is a permanent one or not is almost irrelevant at this point; all that matters is whether or not good stories are being told. And in the case of “Earth 2,” they certainly are, so far. As I said on Monday, I didn’t expect this book to come out of the gate as a fully formed masterpiece, but one that would evolve into something really special. And while they are a few less than perfect pieces , like Garrick and his girlfriend breaking up (which serves almost no purpose with the far superior scene of Garrick reflecting on his life following one page later) or Scott and Pratt being introduced in awkward ways), the first issue feels almost like it is better than it deserves to be.
Because if this is what it feels like to have creators perfectly matched to their titles, shouldn’t DC have thought longer and harder about who to put on all the New 52?
Final Verdict: 9.0 – Buy