By: Tom Taylor (story), Nicola Scott & Robson Rocha (pencils), Trevor Scott & Oclair Albert (inks), Pete Pantazis (colors)

The Story: For some people, prison can be a pretty cushy place.

The Review: Remember how back in the day (by which I mean a few years ago), the Justice Society was presented as the family-oriented, high-morality alternative to the Justice League?  This was a period when mainstream heroes had grown dark themselves in an ever darkening world, in which the Society seemed to be the last bastion of pure heroism.  Surprisingly, the burgeoning Society of Earth-2 may be poised to do the same thing.

I say this after seeing some rather hopeful signs of what can only be called goodness from our newest set of Wonders.  Consider Marella, Queen of Atlantis, “ruler of all of Earth’s oceans and its citizens.  Until people wearing uniforms like yours slaughtered my people and froze me in time.”  Given this unwarranted treatment, it’s pretty incredible that she merely threatens two World Army soldiers after they fire a massive energy blast at her (to little effect, it should be noted).  That’s an extraordinary amount of self-restraint you can’t expect from most Earth-prime heroes nowadays.

And Marella’s not the only one who displays this kind of nobility.  One of the most redeeming moments in the issue—heck, of this whole arc in general—is new-Batman and Lois trying to protect the young Jimmy Olsen and his photographic memory from the massacre outside.  “We can’t let him see what’s happening on the other side of those doors,” Lois tells him.

“No,” not-Batman agrees.  “Tie this around his eyes.”

The really important takeaway from the scene is that despite their increasingly grisly circumstances, the Wonders still have the presence of mind to do the right thing even in small matters.  And in retrospect, none of our heroes, new and old, have compromised any hard moral values thus far, perhaps to their detriment and perhaps as a reflection of why the original Wonders fell to Darkseid’s invasion when Earth-Prime’s superheroes did not.

Taylor’s insistence in maintaining the Wonders’ integrity should thus give you hope that they won’t follow the more ruthless path of their Earth-Prime counterparts to eke out victory, though their planet is at risk of total consumption.  The revelation that “Apokolips is dying,” and that Earth-2 is its intended replacement is a much bigger deal than what it means for this arc alone.  When our Wonders inevitably succeed in saving the world, where does that leave Apokolips?  How will Darkseid react when he realizes he will no longer have a place to operate from?

But these are questions for another story in another issue at another time.  The twist most likely to be on everyone’s minds after reading this one is the discovery of another, more ethnic Kryptonian* in Earth-2’s midst.  The presence of the open-hearted, trusting “Val” puts the existence of the now-evil Superman in doubt.  Your first instinct is that our heroes will find some way to free him from his brainwashing, but if they do, that will render Val somewhat redundant.  Perhaps Superman isn’t long for this world after all.

I will always be convinced that Scott’s art is responsible for the continually strong sales of this series.  Even at the lowest points of Robinson’s scripting, Scott’s talent was such that the title still managed to look big, important, and profound.  She’s always excelled at the larger-than-life moments, whether it’s Marella punching through the prison floor to the secret basement beneath or Val’s friendly grin when his “prison” doors are opened, revealing his cozy home within.  Rocha does more than fine with the few random pages he’s given, but the best thing you can say about his contribution is that it doesn’t interrupt the flow of Scott’s work.

Conclusion: There are encouraging signs for the future between the lines of this issue, although you’re beyond impatient to see the climax already.

Grade: B-

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: * A response, no doubt, to the Black Hispanic Mike Morales, otherwise known as the Ultimate Universe’s Spider-Man.

– So we’ll be discovering new Batman-2’s origin in Earth Two Annual #2.  Guess I’ll be seeing y’all there!

– Oh, yeah, Hawkgirl is still around.  Glad to see she’s been reduced to mere transportation during her time away.