Earth-2 2

Today, Peter and Drew are discussing Earth-2 2, originally released June 6th, 2012.

Peter:  Earth-2 is a world without heroes. Issue 2 shows us the return of the heroic age. Unfortunately, since the world was ravaged by the Apokolypse War, people have become a little wary of heroes. In a brand new world for DC, we see a lot of creative world building. As the second issue for this Second Wave title, world building continues to be the forefront, just as DC promised in the Second Wave.

There are three separate stories going on in this issue of Earth-2. The first involves the Earth-1 Mr. Terrific, Michael Holt. I didn’t read more than the first issue of Mr. Terrific, but he has somehow been transported to Earth-2. He arrives in Manhattan, and runs into Terry Sloan right away. It’s the world’s third smartest man (Michael) versus the world’s smartest man (Terry). Sloan turns the T-Sphere’s against Michael. He goes down.

The next story follows Jay Garrick, who has just encountered a dying Mercury. Mercury dies, but not before warning Jay of a greater and darker evil coming their way, and imbuing Jay with superspeed, and a shiny new costume. Jay takes off, discovering his own powers and learning what he is capable of. He saves a couple from some Apokorats, and then runs off, seeing how fast he can really go. In no time at all, he finds himself in Poland, and meets another superhero upon his arrival, Hawkgirl.

Meanwhile, in Hog Kong, Alan Scott has arrived. Waiting for him is his boyfriend, Sam. They decide to leave the city via bullet train. On the train, the two begin to discuss their lives and their relationship. Just as Alan pulls out a ring and very nonchalantly proposes marriage to Sam, the bridge and train explode!

Phew, this was quite the issue. It wasn’t that it was so action packed, but it was chock full of world building. Turns out, James Robinson is really good at world building. He has continued to build a world without the ‘Big Three’, or any heroes, really.

Jay Garrick finally gets the lighting bolt on his chest. Jay’s really interesting, because unlike many superheroes, he is incredibly unsure of himself. He’s a guy who was pulling an emo on a hill, not sure what do with his life, and has all of a sudden been given a huge responsibility and power. While this isn’t the most interesting, and maybe a little cliche, it’s new for Jay.

I’m not really sure how I feel about the new, sporty look. When they previewed the cover, I was wary: the helmet looked a little weird, but inside, I think it looks fine. The costume is equal parts classic Jay, Impulse and the John Fox Flash costume. It definitely fits the story better. Jay is younger, and the Justice Society is younger. Hell, the whole world is younger. Jay’s old look made sense for a guy who fought in World War II, this makes sense for the new Earth-2.

The big elephant in this issue is Alan Scott. It was a big mystery building up to the announcement, but this was the popular theory. Oh yeah, if you hadn’t figured out my the news, and that I mentioned a boy earlier, but Alan Scott is gay.

Just so you know. I am actually totally in favor of this, at least for now. The change fits this version of the character, who Robinson writes really well. I mean, yeah, some people are pissed, but I think that it will turn out okay — it’s a new book, and Robinson can do whatever he wants.

The inclusion of Mr. Terrific is interesting. I didn’t read all eight issues of Mr. Terrific before they canceled the book, but here’s what I know: Michael Holt was dating Karen Starr, aka Power Girl. But now he’s somehow on Earth-2. So maybe since he got to Earth-2, Karen and Helena can get back? We’ll have to keep reading. Something that really caught my eye was Terry Sloan. For those of you who don’t know, Terry Sloan was the first Mr. Terrific back in day. So, I’m completely perplexed by the fact that he seems to be evil? Or at least, he looks like it.

I was particularly interested in this development, since this is a direct link to two things: 1) Earth-1 stories, and 2) a previously canceled book. I like that DC is keeping canceled characters relevant. I just hope that at some point they find the time to slot in a quick recap for Mr. T, because, having not read seven issues of that book, I have no idea how he got to Earth-2. It also proves that it is possible for self controlled/willing movement between Earths.

Earth-2 is shaping up to be my favorite book of the Second Wave. It is doing a great job of world building, while staying keen on a new story, as well as pushing some boundaries. As long as the creative team can continue to deliver with good art and writing, I will be really happy. Next month promises the new Green Lantern, and I am anxious to see how, if at all that changes. Alan Scott is still pretty much a mystery, and I want to see more of him. Did you enjoying this rather slow, but substantive issue as much as I did, Drew? What do you think of Michael Holt’s move to Earth-2?

Drew: Michael Holt is not a character I’m familiar with at all. I’ve encountered him in a few crossover events, but never as a main character, so I also feel pretty in the dark about what’s going on with him. Honestly, before picking up this issue, the only thing I knew about Mr. Terrific was that he has those terrific balls (sorry, T-spheres). Obviously, there’s a lot for me to learn, but based on the clarity of the introduction we got for Jay’s Flash abilities, I have to imagine they’ll explain things in detail for those of us in the dark.

The Flash origin is really the centerpiece of this issue, and it highlights just how different this title is going to be from the Earth-1 universe. Not only are the “Big Three” dead, but so are all of the Roman Gods that could otherwise intercede and give more people abilities. Obviously, more heroes are going to emerge from the woodwork as this title continues, but I really like that Robinson is building limits into the abilities and numbers of heroes out there.

Mercury’s death is illustrated with touching beauty as he slowly crumbles during his conversation with Jay. Nicola Scott brilliantly alternates shots between Mercury and Jay, revealing more cracks in Mercury’s body each time we see him.

By the end of the conversation, he’s almost completely disintegrated, putting a great deal of urgency into the information he’s giving to Jay. Much of it is too general to be of much use, but I’m particularly intrigued by Mercury’s warning to distrust everyone — essentially anyone could be the enemy.

This idea kind of smashes into the society that has been built up since the events of the first issue; in a world without heroes but the threat of Darkseid returning, the government has developed all kinds of insane weapons — and just has a tighter grip on things in general — than we’ve seen in Earth-1. This is a society that’s going to be very distrustful of anyone with special abilities, and now we have a reason for those heroes to not trust society right back. It’s an interesting dynamic, and one I look forward to seeing more of in the future.

By contrast, the Alan Scott story is very light. We’re introduced to Sam, and learn a bit about their relationship, but the important part is that their train blew up. Will Sam survive the explosion? Will the ring Alan was proposing with turn out to be his power ring? It would be pretty shitty of DC to make such a big deal about this reveal only to kill Alan’s boyfriend off in the very issue he’s introduced. That would certainly give Alan some vengeful, Batman-style motivation for fighting crime/enforcing train safety regulations, but then the fact that he was gay is entirely beside the point; if it’s just an abstraction of a person he loved, it could be a parent, a child, or a girlfriend — who it is doesn’t really matter.

I can appreciate the “post-sexuality” currents of saying that that relationship just happened to be homosexual. That’s fine; comic books should reflect the diversity of the world, and it’s cool that DC has set up a story where it’s the love that’s important (as opposed to the genders of who’s doing the loving). But if that is the case, this feels like a missed opportunity to tell stories where the fact that a character is gay actually matters. I would love to read a coming out story, or something dealing with discrimination or bullying. Sam could just have easily been a woman, and while I get that being able to treat hetero- and homosexual relationships as interchangeable is empowering, I also think it’s a missed opportunity to say something about being gay. In the end, I’d like to see both; stories where characters just happen to be gay, and stories where the fact that the characters are gay matters, but if DC’s only going to make one high-profile character gay this year, I kind of wish they had gone with the latter option.

Of course, I’m really just guessing about any of this. Maybe Alan’s sexuality defines him more than we’ve seen so far. Maybe Sam isn’t just vengeance fodder. For all we know, gay could be straight on Earth-2, so Jay Garrick is actually the gay one here. Even if next month doesn’t clue us in on all of that, it does promise some good ol’ fashioned Green Lantern action. Consider me pumped.

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page.  Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore.  If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there.  There’s no need to pirate, right?

12 comments on “Earth-2 2

  1. I feel like Hawkgirl’s inclusion is a little bit of a throw-away. The character hasn’t popped up in the New 52 as far as I know. But I can’t figure out why she’s in Poland. Is she Polish now? Since Flash #1 the Hawks have been around the Jay. Both were member of the JSA at several points, including founding members. But with one of them on Earth-1, and one on Earth-2, how will that work? They have a long connected history, and seeing them separated by an entire Earth is a little weird.

    • Yeah, but (to date) we’ve seen at least three characters pass between worlds, so I’ll let it slide. And frankly, I’m just happy to see Hawkgirl in her normal physical form. I always thought it was bogus that she didn’t come back after both Hawks were turned into the Avatar of air at the end of Brightest Day. Hawkman needs a Hawkgirl – the fact that they’re separated by universes ain’t no big deal.

  2. What do you guys think about the “gay stories” vs “stories where characters happen to be gay” distinction? It’s not that I want characters to be defined by their sexuality, and I think it’s cool that Alan isn’t; I just think there’s the potential for a lot of good, moving stories that explore a character coming to grips with their sexuality.

    • Yea, I agree. I like that Alan isn’t. I mean, until he kissed that guy, it wasn’t obvious that he was gay, but it wasn’t obvious that he wasn’t gay. This is better than the Marvel story that just came out, because that is literally an entire story about a gay wedding. Same with Batwoman. She a lesbian, but it’s not like she’s Lesbianwoman, she’s Batwoman. They use her homosexuality as a character trait that allows some interesting character interactions, but it doesn’t take over the story. Hopefully that will continue with Alan.

    • Oh yeah, man, I would like to see some gay stories in comics. Particularly, as you mention, the bullying or sense of otherness that comes with it. Alan Scott’s life doesn’t really change by virtue of the fact that he’s gay. There’s such a big and rich gay culture with it’s own triumphs and esthetics and struggles and it just seems like we’re not going to get any of that from Earth-2.

  3. Pingback: Before Watchmen – Minutemen 2 | Retcon Punch

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