By: James Robinson (story), Nicola Scott (pencils), Trevor Scott (inks), Alex Sinclair & Pete Pantazis (colors)
The Story: Getting rejected is apparently not the worst thing to happen when you propose.
The Review: You’ve all heard me talk about how much I love parallel universe stuff before, so this time around, let me tell you about the more disappointing aspects of those stories. Many times, writers either go too big or too little with their changes, either giving you completely devastated, apocalyptic dystopias (which all tend to look the same) or worlds that have a few aesthetic differences, but otherwise resemble their original counterpart in every way.
If Robinson manages to pull off Earth Two as an immersive universe all its own, it’ll be because he’s made specific alterations to the planet’s history and let them develop in both subtle and unsubtle ways. Obviously, the devastation left behind by the Apokolips invasion and the death of the Trinity are major changes, but Robinson doesn’t make the case that these events alone made Earth Two what it is. The essential differences between it and the primary DCU run deeper than that, and may be a little harder to put your finger on: the pointed lack of superhuman activity post-Apokolips invasion, a perpetual sense of fear and wariness scarring the global consciousness, the slight differences in technology and lifestyle.
Then, of course, you have changes to the very conception of the characters themselves. Despite the hype naturally following the announcement of Alan Scott’s change in sexual orientation, I never saw it as that big a deal. Besides the fact that Alan is nowadays hardly a major icon, I contend such a change isn’t cause for praise or criticism in itself. Ultimately, it’s all about how it serves the story, and sadly, Alan’s lover serves as nothing more than a springboard for the media stud’s upcoming transformation. Alan and Sam’s affection is obvious and showy, but we don’t know enough specifics about their relationship to find it particularly special or important.
Much more successful is Jay Garrick’s transition to heroic status. His youthful confusion and discouragement are easy to relate to, and the fact that his potential is recognized in spite of those things appeals to our own hopes and dreams. That a dying god makes this recognition gives the scene an epic quality, not to mention his warning that the world now faces an evil even worse than Apokolips, one apparently powerful enough to trap and kill the divine. And you have to ask how the speed of a god is meant to be of any use against such power; it didn’t help Mercury.
As if to ensure you appreciate the vast scope of this story, Robinson opens with the crossing of universes. Apparently, sometime after I dropped his ongoing, Mr. Terrific makes his way to Earth Two, where he confronts another pretty terrific guy. There can’t be a more appropriately ignominious epilogue to Michael Holt’s short-lived adventures than to have him fall to another world’s top genius, proving that “third-smartest man” translates even in other dimensions.
If you can’t enjoy this title for any other reason, at least be grateful it provides Scott with the kind of project worth her talent: a high-profile subject matter with a high-profile writer. The characters can look humble or imposing as needed, the settings urban or metropolitan, the tone gritty or grand—Scott can do it all and make it look nothing short of spectacular, especially with superstar colorists Sinclair and Pantazis going for the brightest, boldest hues possible.
Conclusion: Robinson is clearly taking full advantage of the blank slate given him, remaking the Earth with godlike strokes, with Scott bringing it into being.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – Good Lord, there are problems with Jay’s new costume. That helmet looks clunky and awkward, especially with that visor.
– Apokorats? As if rats weren’t horrible vermin enough without Fourth World evil running through their veins.