There is something very, very tiresome about betrayal. Not just the pain it causes, which is genuine enough, but the fact that mostly it is such a tawdry, small, and in retrospect, predictable business. As the most intimate of evils, it reveals the true nature of evil, something that Dante, with his foul, feces-filled Hell and mangy devils, understood better than Milton, whose majestic shadow-crowned Satan inspires as much as revolts.
The writers of Earth 2: World’s End perhaps aspire to Milton, but the story is the essence of Dante. In most other connections, saying a story is a fine example of Dantean prose would be a major complement. Not in this instance. Here, everything is just foul and tired and dying. Given that a world is ending that might be appropriate. But there is a reason people rarely tell realistic stories about a world ending, choosing instead to cling to sentimental epics of lost glory and noble sacrifice.
There is sacrifice aplenty in Earth 2: World’s End #12, but little of it is noble. Perhaps the fact is best illustrated by looking at a particular example, that of Earth 2 Dick Grayson. Dick has just given his son over to John Constantine and companions, opting to leave his beloved child in the hands of magical strangers while he remains behind with the murdered Barbara Gordon in a city about to be wiped out by a tidal wave. Why? What purpose does this serve? Evidently so he can use a baseball bat to extract bloody revenge on the perpetrators.
Now, this behavior may be believable (the baseball bat, not giving the son over to magical and murderous strangers). It’s even believable for a version of Dick Grayson, with the caveat that these are extraordinary circumstances and the Grayson of Earth 2 is not the same man as the one featured in the eponymous title on Prime Earth. But it is not a tale of heroes. It is not a tale of nobility. It is not a tale of goodness. It is not even a tale of sacrificial struggle and moral righteousness that one can recognize even while questioning the value of the sacrifice and the validity of the moral principles. It is just a tired, bitter, dirty story of death and destruction and decay.
Earth 2 is a tragedy that does not purge. In the story of the breaking of this world, no catharsis comes. The world began on a note of hope, as it struggled to build again after the disastrous first war with Apokalips. It is ending on a sour chord of defeat and futility. In that it is very realistic. And, from a superhero comic book, sometimes that is the greatest sin of all.
A sad, bitter, tired story. There might be much more to say. But the essence of the problem is that saying it would be totally pointless.