By: Greg Pak (story), Ken Lashley (art), Tom Raney (pencils), Jamie Mendoza (inks), Jason Wright (colors)
The Story: The trip to Earth-2, Part 2.
The Review: I’m starting to realize that this title might not know what it’s talking about. The series has meandered so much that it’s been hard to make sense of where it was going. Since the first arc, we’ve had one tangential disappointment after another: a forgettable storyline with Mongul, a forgettable crossover with Worlds’ Finest, a forgettable filler issue with guest writer Jeff Lemire, a forgettable tie-in to a most unwelcome Event…you get the picture.
This issue’s return to Earth-2 seems like a desperate attempt to pick up from the only successful plotline the title has ever had, but even here, there’s not much excitement to be had. Bruce and Clark, deprived of any ability to actually interact with the parallel world, have little to do except watch helplessly as things go further and further south for their counterparts. It’s a depressing experience, certainly, but not exactly a learning one.
Most frustratingly, our heroes are constantly shifted arbitrarily from one disaster to another by Kaiyo, who’s turning out to be a far more annoying villain than a menacing one. Here, she appears out of nowhere for seemingly no other reason than to save Bruce and Clark the effort of tracking her. As thanks for repelling Darkseid (thereby allowing her to escape his attention herself), she gives them a chance to return to Earth-2 and exorcise some of their guilt about their role in its doom, but then gets pissed when all they do is ensure fate remains on course. Maybe we shouldn’t expect more from a character whose whole purpose is to bring chaos—it’s part of her name, for crying out loud—but this kind of pointless manipulation just feels like Pak creating conflict out of nothing.
And for what? What exactly is Pak trying to get at with all this? Clark watches his double rescue his parents at the cost of his wife, while Bruce can’t stop himself from rescuing Alfred from what turns out to be an inevitable demise. But what are they supposed to take away from that? That Clark has to make hard choices and that Bruce isn’t a stone-cold robot? Those are lessons both have already learned under much more powerful circumstances in other series, I’m afraid. Maybe the point was simply for Clark and Bruce to bond over their shared emotional weakness, but if so, this was a clumsy way to make that happen.
As if to ring home the issue’s lack of weight, we get not one, but two fill-in artists, both of whom have little to recommend their style other than mere competence. The art is decidedly bland, with that overdramatic expression and awkward sense of action DC house artists are known for. There’s one sequence in which Clark presumably saves Helena Wayne from her Bat-plane getting caught up in an explosion, but it’s rendered so vaguely that you really have no idea how he did it. By visuals alone, it looks like simply materializes behind her then, in the next panel, fades away as she tumbles from her crumbling ship.
Conclusion: Too erratic and indecisive to be worth the extra money it charges. Dropped.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – I think we’re supposed to admire that Lois stands her ground against the Parademons, but maybe if she fled like her co-workers, she, too, would be alive instead of crushed under stone rubble. Just saying.