The second wave of DC’s New 52 started this week with World’s Finest and Earth-2, both establishing the multiverse that DC has promised since Infinite Crisis back in 2005. I did enjoy the Golden Age which established an alternate version of the DCU in the 1940’s and bled into Starman and the JSA comics that arrived much later. I’m also a big fan of Robinson’s Starman, but not so much of his Justice League or Superman work that came afterwards. As such, I was not sure what to expect with this issue but what I got is… strange.
Earth-2 opens with a fight for survival against a horde of parademons from Apokalypse (Darkseid’s homeworld). This is also how the New 52 Justice League of America reboot started, so I was kind of confused. In Earth-2, it appears that only three superheroes are left standing; Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, along with Supergirl and Robin as back-up. The parademons appear to be unstoppable and the massive towers that control Darkseid’s armies are replaced as quickly as they are taken down.
Luckily Batman has a cunning plan (like Blackadder) and assaults a tower while the Robin provides covering fire from the Batwing and Superman battles a wave of parademons alongside Wonder Woman. Where’s Supergirl? Guarding a series of nuclear missile sites set to fire should the heroes fail. Batman introduces a virus to the tower and the control signal to the parademons is halted, but not before Wonder Woman and Superman are killed by Steppenwolf. Batman also dies in the tower’s explosion. Supergirl and Robin fly into a weird portal into the pages of World’s Finest and… that’s about it.
Yes, the first issue of a new series introduces and kills its main cast then shunts the supporting characters over into another comic.
Al Pratt (the Atom of the JSA) also has a brief cameo as a Sergeant guarding one of the nuclear missile sites. Not much development is given to him other than the fact that he is short and cranky yet beloved his soldiers. Then he gets killed too.
Five years later, the focus shifts to Alan Scott (also known as the first Green Lantern in the pre-New 52 universe) who is a sort of sleazy corporate suit and Jay Garrick who is a cloying loser who helps his ex-girlfriend Joan pack for her trip to a new life on the other side of the country.
So… a strange comic.
The artwork by Scott is great in the action sequences. There was a lot of build-up to this series focusing on the redesigns of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman and they all look fantastic on the page. But… they’re already dead first month in! I’m thinking that the ‘real’ leading cast will slowly be revealed as Alan Scott becomes Green Lantern and Garrick takes on the mantle of the Flash, but they are already so unappealing that I’m not sure that I’ll stick around to see.
Earth-2 is a bold attempt on DC’s part to recapture some of its lost potential from the pre-Crisis world prior to 1985. The Justice Society of America was the first superhero team of DC Comics, uniting the biggest names in their publishing world under one title. Revived in the pages of Flash’s monthly book, the JSA were re-introduced as older heroes from a parallel world. This concept was further developed in Roy Thomas and Jerry Ordway’s amazing All-Star Squadron comic that spawned several spin-offs ranging from Infinity Inc. to Young All-Stars.
Of course that all came to a sad end when the Multiple Earths were blended into one.
Along with Geoff Johns, James Robinson is responsible for bringing back interest in the JSA so I am sure that, given time, he will have similar success with Earth-2.
However, I was very let-down with this issue as it killed off all of the interesting characters and tied into another comic for the continuing story of Robin and Supergirl! The narration is also very clunky and the dialog uninspired (‘Die, human!’).
For the start of the second wave of the New 52, this does not fill me with hope.
I want OMAC back, a much more fun and innovative comic.