By: James Robinson (story), Nicola Scott (pencils), Trevor Scott (inks), Alex Sinclair (colors)
The Story: With some stories, it’s better to start at the end.
The Review: I can hardly believe this, but pretty close to a year ago, I talked about how much I liked parallel-universe ridiculousness in all its forms. I’m such a sucker for that kind of stuff that if you told me there’d be an episode of Glee where for some musical-related reason, everything went the opposite of how it should be (read: watchable), I’d probably show up. So obviously, I really like DC’s Multiverse concept, and was excited to see its return, starting with Earth Two.
And for most people, you can’t hear “Earth Two” without associating it with the Justice Society. I imagine the purists will be frothing at the mouth once I mention the Society doesn’t appear for even a moment in this issue—at least, not as such. But have faith and remember who’s writing this thing: Robinson, the man who brought the Society back to prominence for the new millennium, so his track record is pretty good here.
Speaking as a Society purist myself, I approve of what Robinson does here. Yes, we start out with ye olde DC Trinity saving the world as usual, but the big difference between them and their Earth One counterparts is in their choice of allies. Earth Two definitely feels like a lonelier, more ordinary world, as far as its superheroes are concerned. Instead of a League of heavy hitters, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman have only their immediate families and the dedicated soldiers of many nations to help them out.
So it should come as no surprise that the invasion of Apokolips results in a much direr crisis here than in Earth One, particularly as New God Steppenwolf leads the charge. His presence proves crucial in this story, as it takes at least a god to convincingly bring down the Trinity. And while we’re on the topic of New Gods, you have to appreciate that Robinson plays up their divine nature and power, an aspect Geoff Johns completely overlooked when he used them in his Justice League arc. It really brings home the end-of-the-world feeling when Mercury appears to Wonder Woman, announcing the fall of the Greek Pantheon “on plains afar,” indicating this is a kind of Ragnarok for all champions, moral and divine, on Earth Two.
Yet even the ancient tales of Ragnarok foretold that a new world would come of it, so consider the fall of the old heroes, old as they are, as a necessary step for the new to rise. Robinson uses the opportunity of DC’s relaunch to look at Alan Scott, Jay Garrick, and Al Pratt anew. While they’ve lost their elder statesmen status, and the respect and wisdom that came with it, their youth and Robinson’s smart character work makes them, if anything, more accessible than ever. You get a great sense of Alan’s centeredness, Jay as a man of the people (even at age 21), and Al’s outstanding courage before they put on any kind of costume, reminding you that the Society’s appeals comes from their innate heroism, not the powers they wield.
It is good to have Scott back at work. To be frank, I’m so used to her gritty, dark stylings on Secret Six that I had my doubts if she could pull of a big, grandiose superhero series. What a fool I was. When you see that first double splash of the Trinity clawing their way through hordes of Parademons, with Sinclair’s sparkling colors livening everything, the only word that comes to mind is “epic.” Scott’s art is like the beautiful love child of George Peréz’s sense of drama and Joe Kubert’s earthiness. Few artists could’ve conveyed the lasting damage of Apokolips’ invasion on Earth the way Scott does, giving you a fish-eyed view of the Italian landscape, scarred by multiple vast, boiling, smoking craters.
Conclusion: A very promising start to another whole new DCU, supported by Robinson’s even writing and Scott’s magnificent art.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: - Vesta “torn to pieces”? A very sad fate for the only divinity in the Greek pantheon who never got involved in any drama, nonsense, or petty violence.
– Call me a sap, but I found that goodbye between Batman and Robin pretty sad. I imagine if Earth One’s Batman had a daughter instead of Damian, he’d be a much more sentimental guy, too.