By: James Robinson (story), Nicola Scott (pencils), Trevor Scott (inks), Alex Sinclair & Pete Pantazis (colors)

The Story: The White House gardener isn’t going to be too happy when he sees the lawn.

The Review: For any writer, crafting a whole world from scratch is one of the most exciting things you can do.  It really goes to the heart of what makes storytelling as much a spiritual act as a visceral one.  You get to determine what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s normal and abnormal, and everything in between.  But all that can also be quite frightening; you can’t ever tell if people will appreciate or fall in love with your world the way you do.

James Robinson has it harder than the rest of his peers at DC because he and he alone gets to decide the overall shape of Earth Two, regardless of who else may join his efforts down the line.  Maybe the multitude of different creators makes the primary DCU disjointed and inconsistent, but it also offers rich choices and far more opportunities for readers to claim a spot of their own.  With Earth Two, you either have to take it as Robinson presents it to you, or turn your back.

Since he’s only got one title to work with, and he must do it solo, Robinson packs each issue with exposition that might have been felt looser dispersed across several series.  Just the Green Lantern material alone seems to fill up this issue, and as interesting and necessary as it may be, it just slows everything down.  Personally, I chalk this up to poor editing.  Robinson has a famous habit for getting windy, and a more take-charge editor would’ve pared down the fat from lines like, “You will be that energy’s conduit.  Your body its storehouse and that power will shine forth from you as it would the light from a lamp.”  Very chunky stuff.

At least Robinson has the sense to break up the monotony of Green Lantern’s sequence with scenes between the Flash (though using that name is jumping a gun a bit, considering Jay hasn’t chosen a heroic moniker for himself yet) and Hawkgirl.  They provide pretty much the whole of the issue’s action, and a nice bit of chemistry on top, though much more friendly than romantic.  Hawkgirl seems like a good egg—semi-pun intended—and although she seems concerned about Jay’s naivety and lack of fighting skills, she takes it in stride, which makes her very likable.

The one thing that still makes Earth Two a compelling read is its radically different take on familiar DC concepts.  The dichotomy between the Green, the power bestowed on Alan Scott, and the Grey is like a poetic mish-mash of the Green/Red versus the Rot and the Green Lanterns versus the Black Lanterns in the DCU proper.  The parallels become even more strongly poetic when Robinson embodies the Grey in—spoiler alert—Solomon Grundy, classic Alan Scott archnemesis.  Both obviously have their power levels augmented to Superman-status on Earth Two, which suddenly makes their confrontation more worthy of anticipation.

Scott can really do no wrong in my mind.  Nothing would make happier than to see Earth Two take off as an absorbing universe on its own right because that’ll mean Scott gets to be the artistic founder of one of DC’s important centerpieces.  Everything she draws looks bold and full-bodied.  About the only criticism you might make is in regards to the costume design, most of which have some awkward, clunky element to it.  For example, Green Lantern’s mantle: how is he supposed to lift up his arms with those metal pointy things in the way?

Conclusion: All this wordiness may be a natural part of hitting the Big Fat Middle of the story—and at #3, we’ve definitely started hitting that point—but it sure sucks the wind out of a series that really needs momentum to stand as a world all its own.

Grade: B

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Jay claims he doesn’t believe in fate.  Hawkgirl replies, “Maybe you will when you meet the guy.”  Aw, yeah—Dr. Fate is in the house!