How many planets are they going to run through?
Dan Abnett (W), Bruno Redondo (P) and (Layouts), Juan Albarran (I), Vicente Cifuentes (P) and (I), Rex Lokus (C)
Cover by Bruno Redondo and Alejandro Sanchez
Publisher: DC Comics
First off, apologies for the lateness of this posting. I didn’t plan too well and family obligations got in the way of finishing this earlier in the day.
The story of Earth 2 in the New 52 as well as Rebirth has been a complex one, both in terms of quality and content. When Earth 2 first started in 2012, I was rather excited for the series. However, it failed to grab my dad and I with its apocalyptic, dreary tone and its lackluster characters, and we did not continue to get it from there. We picked it back up later on when Tom Taylor took over the series and continued it for a time. However, we dropped it once more when we heard about Earth 2: World’s End because we are both vehemently against weekly series. We have checked back in a couple of times since Dan Abnett took over as writer, and I picked up the newest issue this week for curiosity’s sake.
My main dilemmas with the saga of Earth 2 in the New 52 is that it really does not resemble the tales of the Justice Society beyond character names. Alan Scott is more arrogant and stoic than the older iteration. Jay Garrick is a little more unsure and Spider-Man esque than the Flash of old. The new Doctor Fate, Hawkgirl, Huntress, Power Girl, Al Pratt, Commander Steel, and Sandman are more in line with what the characters once were, but they are more often than not pushed to the background. That’s to say nothing of Mister Terrific outright disappearing after Future’s End and the lack of Society classics like Wildcat, Jessie Quick, Johnny Thunder, Obsidian, Jade, and Atom Smasher. There’s also Hawkman, Shazam, and Stargirl, all of which have been restricted to Prime Earth and never appear in the series.
I understand that this is supposed to be the younger versions of the characters, but being the old vanguard has been such a central part of their narratives for so long now that giving them youth loses a lot of the things that made the Justice Society unique. The constant apocalyptic scenarios and dower tone also prevent the book from delving into the old-fashioned heroics which are hallmarks of the Justice Society. That being said, I have neglected the main problem that has prevented this book from being the return of the Justice Society that many people are craving.
This book wants to be about Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, and it’s really frustrating. The series has made itself focus on the Big Three with the new Superman, two Batmen, and Fury/Wonder Woman. Don’t get me wrong, I did kind of dig Thomas Wayne as Batman, Val-Zod the pacifist Superman is a pretty cool concept, and at least they allow Fury the dignity of having pants. However, that is not what many people are looking for in a book called Earth 2 Society. That name implies something akin to the Justice Society, and the book has not been that and only hints at it at times.
To move onto the current story, Earth 2 has been remade once again by the Pandora Casket, and the Wonders have just arrived into the new world created after facing duplicates of Sandman in some kind of phantom dimension out of sync with their own. In one location stands Superman, Power Girl, the Flash, Fury, Red Tornado, and Hawkgirl. In the other is Batman, “Boy Wonder,” and Huntress, these three having just been hidden away by someone calling himself Sergeant Steel while the others stand in a park in Metropolis.
The first group reside themselves to blending in while Sergeant Steel informs the second group of the state of the current world. It’s a near-perfect utopia controlled by an organization calling itself Central Command. They apparently fear Wonders coming from other dimensions to meddle with the world. To this end, they created Sergeant Steel, but they considered him a failure and moved onto creating the Sandmen. Steel distrusts this government and recognizes Batman, Huntress, and Boy Wonder as the extradimensional beings that Central Command fears.
Meanwhile, we get a look at Central Command and its army of Sandmen. Its led by a shadowy figure in armor reminiscent of Lex Luthor. He is aware of the arrival of the Wonders and wants them dealt with.
Back with Steel, Boy Wonder becomes aware that they are being tracked. Steel discovers it too with his technology, and he becomes distrustful of the three of them. A fight ensues, and Batman is apparently shot.
The first group is next shown being ambushed by the Sandmen, and we are shown the identity of the leader of Central Command (spoilers): Ultra-Humanite. The comic ends with that reveal.
This book has some real pacing issues. Much of the comic consists of the Wonders reiterating what is already known to the followers of the series. I understand wanting to be inviting to new readers, but this exposition could have been covered in far less space. The rest of the bulk is made up of information from Sergeant Steel which could have been greatly condensed too.
The plot is admittedly high-concept, and it does need some explaining. Even I felt a little confused at times, but that mostly comes from what I knew about previous points in the series and how different things are now. Where are Green Lantern, Atom, Doctor Fate, and Mister Terrific? Dick Grayson is Batman now? Who and what is John “the Boy Wonder” exactly? Did they really lose another Earth?
None of that is necessarily needed to understand the current story, but it is indicative of the creative team shifts and no one knowing what exactly they want to do with the series beyond imitating the Justice League.
That being said, I didn’t hate this comic. It was just so bogged down with exposition. No action. No interesting character moments. It’s all just explaining things. There’s a bizarre amount of detail devoted to them changing into disguises which becomes completely unnecessary when the Sandmen attack. They even say that the “disguises were pointless.” So what was the point? The plot could have been constructed differently to move this stuff along more efficiently.
The art is pretty good. The characters look striking and detailed. It is a bit overly glossy, and there isn’t a whole lot of physical expression going on. There is a funny visual gag with Fury being visibly disgusted at a Hello Kitty-esque shirt. Beyond that, the art is good, but not extraordinary.
If you’re already hooked on this series, you will likely be bored by the slow pace and constant exposition. If you’re a newcomer, you will get some grasp of what’s going on but only because the comic won’t stop explaining things. If you’re a returning reader to see what the comic is like now, it barely resembles the series as it has been and will be a bit alienating. It won’t likely win back readers.
Like I said, I didn’t hate this comic. It is playing with some interesting, if redundant, concepts. It’s cool seeing less used characters like Huntress, Ultra-Humanite, and Jay Garrick. However, the pace is very slow and results in a dull comic. I can’t recommend it. Check back later when things have picked up again.
Final Score: 5/10