Earth-2 3

Today, Peter and Patrick are discussing Earth-2 3, originally released July 4th, 2012.

Peter:  Alan Scott’s sexual orientation has been quite the hot topic lately. But Alan’s transformation into the Green Lantern of Earth-2 brings with it many more interesting and surprising developments than just the one hot-button issue. As Earth-2 slowly repopulates with costume heroes, he will certainly be playing large role. The character has been pretty much completely redone with the New 52, which means we have a total reinvention of the Green Lantern side of his character. But there is no way I am going to spoil that on the home page.

The action begins amid the wreckage of the train Alan and Sam where traveling on. Alan is awoken by a voice. In true Moses-like fashion, Alan is talking to a big green flame. But not just a green flame, but a Green flame, with a capital of ‘G’. Alan finds out that Sam is dead, and there is nothing that can be done about it. It is his time, time for him to for him to take up the power of the Green and defend the world from a coming threat of great magnitude. He is given his power, a new costume, and transforms the ring he was about the give to Sam into his ring, his Green Lantern ring.

During Alan’s Moses-moment, Jay has a conversation with Hawkgirl. They tussle a little, and then Hawkgirl shows Jay that everything around them is dying. We soon figure out that it is caused by The Grey (also with a capital ‘G’).

Elsewhere, the avatar of the Grey arises. Grundy is back.

So that’s a complete reinvention of the entire Alan Scott mythos. Sure, the character’s gay now. But he also no longer commands the power of the Starheart – he’s an agent of The Green. I would venture to say that this is more game-changing than making him gay. The Starheart was an item of limitless power from outer space. Now Alan is pretty much just another avatar of The Green. Does that mean his power levels will be lowered? Also, the idea that he wasn’t the first to wield this power is cool, but does that mean he isn’t the first Green Lantern for Earth-2 either?

Alan’s large emotional connection to the cause is pretty cool. It is obvious that while he has some thought of vengeance for Sam, he also has strong moral obligation to fight for justice. Alan has been a big advocate of saving the world, doing what he can when he can. It’s almost the old Spider-Man-ism: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Alan’s determination to use his powers to make a difference stands in contrast to Jay’s outlook. Mercury gave Jay his powers, and gave him marching orders, but Jay doesn’t show the same moral compass that guided Alan (even before he gets those powers).

I do like that his powers look the same. Traditionally, Alan’s power-ring has often projected green flame. I always liked that, not just because it looks cool, but it also does a nice job of distinguishing him from the Silver Age Green Lanterns.

The new uniform doesn’t really help sell that distinction though. He looks just like another member of the Corps. The old school cape and red shirt with lantern was a good look, too bad they changed it up. I mean they could have kept some of the old costume elements from the old suit and incorporated it into the new look. Jay’s new design did this, and the new Flash looks great.

I like the idea that Grundy is the avatar of the Grey. Normally, the Grey is just that: the grey area between the Rot and the Green that originally gave birth to Grundy. It’s kind of like the Black Lantern; it brings people back as zombies-like creatures with a vendetta against the living. Grundy’s look in Earth-2 has been revamped as well – less hulking brute, more sleek bondage. Also, the fact that he has beaten and KILLED the previous agents of the Green before makes him even more daunting.

Jay’s story is small, but also plants some seeds. Hawkgirl introduces him to the coming of the Grey, and what it is capable of. This is obviously leading up to a team up of at least the three of them. (New Justice Society???)

There are some interesting layouts in this issue. Particularly, I like these sets of before-and-after panels that start off green and alive and then turn grey as they die.

This book has moved to the top of my Second Wave pile. Every week it brings something great and new to table that keeps me wanting more. Next month we get a tease of the Earth-2 Atom. Who will that be? Will he also be the same Atom that we saw in the Free Comic Book Day? Or new Earth-2 Atom. Also, I want to know what happened to Mr. Terrific from last issue, and his confrontation with the other Mr. Terrific, who may not be that terrific.

Patrick: Oh right, I forgot about Mr. Terrific. Honestly, I think there’s enough cool stuff happening in these pages that the series could benefit more from simplifying it’s narrative rather than complicating it. You suggest that we might be a few issues away from the formation of a new Justice Society, and that seems like a pretty safe bet to me too. And while that necessitates the introduction (and often, reinvention) of classic characters, I worry about this series’ focus being pulled in too many directions. The end of this issue teases ‘The Atom’ next month – and while I’m a big fan of that character, I just don’t want this book to become overstuffed.

As far as who that ‘Atom’ will be, I hope to high-heaven that it’s Ray Palmer. I loves me some Ray Palmer. Someone mentioned in this space (it might even have been you, Peter) that Ray played a role in the early-going of the current Firestorm. I hope that doesn’t take him out of the running. I sorta doubt that’ll be the Atom from the Free Comic Book Day Issue. For starters, we don’t see any other Earth-2 heroes in that gatefold. For secondsies, is it just me or does this Atom look like she might be a lady?

Who do we know that is a lady and can maybe use those powers? JEAN LORING is who. Let’s speculate like maniacs on the identity of both of these Atoms in the comments.

I find Earth-2 fascinating from a mythological standpoint. Like you, I’m interested in the new forms semi-familiar characters take, and it’s extra-compelling to make them function in a world without the Big Three heroes. But I gotta harp on the dialogue writing a little. Alan’s chat with the Green Fire employs the kind of elevated language I expect from an Alan Moore book, but with none of the grace. The conversation also skims right over Sam’s death – Alan doesn’t object at all when the Fire says “My task was only to protect you…” What a shitty benevolent force of nature. It’s kind of a stretch to believe that Alan would have accepted this so peacefully.

And the meet-fight between Flash and Hawkgirl is filled with stilted, weird dialogue. Let’s just look at this one panel:

First of all, her answer isn’t ‘glib’ – it’s laughably self-serious. Then what’s up with Jay babbling about where they are in Poland? Doesn’t fucking matter dude: she can fly and you can run across oceans. And lastly, there’s the “Maybe you will [believe in fate] when you meet the guy.” The guy? Is she trying to be mysterious or did she just forget what she was talking about? It makes for a lot of words on the page, none of which say much of anything.

But that sequence does have some rockin’ art in it. I like it when an artist can find a way to express a non-visual characteristic of a superhero through a simple drawing. You’ll see this a lot in drawings of the Flash in motion, usually multiple images give the illusion of moving really fast (this scene employs this a couple times). It’s less common to see it from characters like Hawkgirl, but look how collected, regal and in-control she appears in this panel:

This too is simple, but using her wings to fill the space above Jay totally sells her dominance in the scene. Also, there are some striking colors throughout this issue. Colorists Alex Sinclair and Pete Pantazis manage a) a scene lit by a sentient green fire; b) a duel between heroes at sunset; and c) a grey and dying Washington DC – all three of which require totally distinct color palettes.

Hey, here’s a question: is Grundy the same as “Solomon Grundy?” (Born on a Monday, christened on Tuesday, etc. etc.) Obviously both characters have a strong connection to death and grotesque-rebirth. But the revamped design calls a lot of other death-characters to mind: namely Black Hand and Anton Arcane. I hope Robinson is intentionally combining traits of similarly themed villains to stream-line this universe. And it makes sense – because his heroes’ origins are similarly pastiches of the hero-origins we’re already familiar with. Alan is sort of a Green Lantern, but he’s also sorta Swamp Thing. Jay is sorta the Flash, but he’s also got the powers of a god (like Wonder Woman).

Oh and I don’t want to make a big deal about it, but why did Alan’s dreamy boyfriend need to die? Alan seems adequately motivated to fight crime and save the world (more so once he got that set of powers), there’s really no need to throw this loss on top of it. I’m racking my brain right now to come up with another superhero origin that starts with the death of a romantic interest, and it’s just not coming to me. It just feels like hollow lip-service to the gay: yes, there’s a new gay character, no he won’t be engaging in meaning relationship.

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?

39 comments on “Earth-2 3

  1. I’m not going to harp on DC for making Alan Scott gay and promptly killing his boyfriend. It’s a little awkward how easy Alan Scott gets over it, but it’s folded into the story enough that I’m ok with it.

    But shame on DC for going out of their way to so over-hype this progressive step towards a more diverse hero roster, only to kill Scott’s gay lover after a mere handful of panels. It pushes the choice to out a character away from a move against homophobia in comic books to a publicity grab in light of Marvel’s gay wedding.

    • I have a feeling that Sam will be coming back soon…somehow. Maybe as a tool for the Grey to use against Alan? Or maybe he has superpowers that no one knew about that saved his life? Or as a Jacob Marley-esque figment of Alan’s imagination?

      • a) Jacob Marley was a ghost – an honest to goodness ghost (just because Scrooge suggests that there is “more of gravy than of grave” about him, doesn’t mean it’s true).
        b) That would be DC was introducing TWO gay super heroes, which doesn’t seem likely (especially without a second big to-do in the media).
        c) Sam will probably come back as a zombie-creature controlled by the Grey. But that’s a pretty limited role.

  2. In reference to your question on Hawkgirl’s ‘he’ dialogue Patrick. If you read it again, slowly, you’ll notice that the word ‘Fate’ is bolded. I think that you and Jay haven’t figured it out yet, but I think ‘Fate’ is a person. Hawkgirl is probably referring to Dr. Fate. She knows exactly who she is talking about. This is cool because it will give us yet another super-powered player here.

    • Dag nab it! You nerds got me again with your stupidly named characters! (See also: Mr. Terrific) In that case, she’s being intentionally obtuse, which is also annoying. Their whole back-and-forth is strained though – I just happened to pick an answer you can explain away. Shelby points out a really confusing exchange below.

        • Honestly, the only Fate I’ve read is in Flashpoint. When Peter mentioned the character, I tried to remember who he was and could only come up with Dr. Doom and Dr. Strange. Turns out neither of those guys are DC characters, but sneaked into my mind via Marvel vs. Capcom 3. END RESULT: I still don’t actually know who Dr. Fate is.

        • Bruce Timm’s JLU taught me who Fate was, and I’m right with ya– I’ve never actually read him. I’ve seen him in Justice League and more recently in Young Justice so I kinda know of him.

          Plus, Hawkgirl’s first use of “fate” was bolded, so it clicked in my brain as the man rather than anything else.

  3. Also, good call on the female Atom. That person does look a little girl-ish, with a slender waist and larger butt. It would be a little weird if it was Jean Loring, because she is kinda crazy. (Well she used to be) I mean, she was so desperate to get Ray back that she shrunk herself using an Atom suit and tried to give Sue Dibney a stroke.

  4. I don’t remember saying that Ray played a role in Firestorm. I think he may have played a role in Frankenstein, but I can’t be certain. Also, if all the world-traveling going on, he could totally end up in Earth-2. Maybe he found a way to travel through the Microverse?

    • I know very little about the Justice Society and their golden age members, but wasn’t the Atom on that team Al Pratt? My bet is he’s the guy we saw in issue one, remember the short army guy with the tanks, Sgt(?) Pratt.

      • Yeah, that seems right to me. There’s a huge amount of information I don’t have on Golden Age heroes and the JSA. There were a couple times I’d encounter the characters in my pre-Flashpoint readings, but their shit usually confused me (or was just lame by comparison). I’m going to go ahead and trust Robinson to deliver a compelling new take on whoever they want Atom to be. The details may get wonky (“TRUST YOU!?”) but the big moves are pretty interesting.

        • I guess I was quick to assume that when they say ‘The Atom’, I automatically think of someone who can shrink. Ray Palmer Atom and Al Pratt Atom are two very different heroes.

  5. I want to point out that the Grey is obviously very different from the Rot. While they both embody death, as I mentioned above, the Grey is a little different. While things around it die, stuff is growing out of the ground and such. Grundy has had a connection to the Grey historically, so Robinson did a good job of not reinventing the wheel. Also, Grundy was named for the poem, because of his abilities to die and be reborn. I don’t know about New-52-Earth-2 Grundy, but old Grundy was Cyrus Gold, and if you follow the most used storyline, a merchant who was murdered and dumped into the Slaughter Swamp in the mid 19th Century. Or, and this may be better suited for this story, is that the Parliament of Trees tried to make him their avatar, but something was missing since apparently he didn’t die in a fire and it didn’t quite work.

    • I was really excited to see a version of the Green vs Rot battle playing out here. Instead of harnessing the literal power of plants, Scott is tapping into the energy of the Earth, instead of fighting the Rot he’s fighting the Gray. Or, does it have to be the Grey? Anyway, this plays perfectly as an Earth-2 version of the fight we’re so familiar with in Swamp Thing; it’s almost the same, but just a little bit off in the details.

      I care way less about Jay Garrick and Hawkgirl, especially because the dialogue is so weird. I had to read this exchange 3 or 4 times to make sense of it; I think this is the order it’s supposed to go in.

      Hawkgirl: That’s your BEST shot, huh? Then you’re lucky I WASN’T giving you mine. Boy, you’re going to take some work.
      Jay: Yeah, Well I’ll be “running along” if it’s all the same to you.
      Hawkgirl: A test. Relax. Here, get up. Lying there covered in dirt isn’t one of you’re better looks.
      Jay: Trust you? TRUST YOU?
      Jay: All right, let’s say I DO trust you…

      What? Can someone explain what just happened there?

      • I was going to include that panel, but then chickened out. The “Trust you? TRUST YOU?” comes out of nowhere. It’s also a weird mood swing for the character within a single panel. There’s one of those earlier in Alan and the fire’s talk, where the fire is like “there you pain is gone” and Alan’s like “No. Yes! Pain doesn’t matter.” Huh? No and yes? Shouldn’t there be different drawings showing me that the character’s attitude has changed? How do you draw one face for that?

        • As excited as I was when I finished this issue, at times it feels like we’re reading an early draft instead of the final product.

        • It does seem like we’re getting early drafts of these scripts. Which is weird because it feels very editor-driven (being so steeped in mythology). I guess ‘editor’ doesn’t necessarily mean “one who edits.”

  6. OK.. the Atom they’re talking about IS Al Pratt, not Ray Palmer or Ryan Choi.. Also, it was implied that the Atom joining Justice League would be Ryan Choi (by Jim Lee a while ago).. I’m assuming that is still the case.

    The question will be.. is Al Pratt going to be his powered Atom with his super strength and durability or will he be non-powered original Al Pratt? Thus far everyone has had powers and a strange connection to a dying/ancient entity, so how will that work into Al’s origin. It’ll be interesting to see.

    • I hadn’t really noticed that, but Earth-2 (especially since the Trio bit it) heroes tend to have their powers granted to them by gods and spirits… It would be out of character for this world to allow a technologically advanced suit to shrink a dude.

  7. Whatever issues there were with the writing in her scene, I just want to say that Hawkgirl kicks ass and I already get the feeling that she’s going to be one of my favorite characters in the series.

    Other than that, the three issues I wanted to point out (the nonsensical “trust you” panel, Hawkgirl’s reference being to Dr. Fate, and their Atom probably being Al Pratt, who appeared in issue one of this book) were already pointed out, so kudos on that, guys. Despite any flaws, I really enjoy this book.

    • Agreed about Hawkgirl. Also I loved when she asked Jay if he meant the Roman god, he responds with ‘Crazy, huh?’. Hawkgirl’s toughness paired with his almost childishness is a good dynamic. I mean he tried to throw dirt at her. Come on.

      I had a hard time getting into the Green Lantern scene though. I don’t know if it was Alan’s wavering between nonsense babbling and witty retorts or the odd voice (and letters) of the flame, but I just couldn’t see it. The costume is a little bland too. The only thing I thought seemed appropriate about his whole scene was the panel where he was kneeling over the bodies.

      • They imply pretty heavily that her origin is different from what we might expect, almost like she’s actually a human. I’m curious to see how that plays out as the series develops.

        And I’ll agree with Jack about the Green Lantern scene — especially the letters. There were a few places where the writing was so small, I had to strain to read the shaggy green letters they were using for that scene.

        • The real problem with the Green Lantern scene is that nothing happens. Ball of Green Flame says “here, have this power” and then he has the power. Thanks, I got that from the cover of the issue.

          So wait – which Hawkgirl origin are we hoping to see subverted here? Hawkgirl and Thanagarian Warrior or an endlessly reincarnated half of star-cross-lover-pair? OR BOTH as Geoffy Johns showed the Hawks in BN/BD? She seems like she’s going to be fucking awesome – it’d be nice to see her take on a leadership role this Earth-2 JSA. It’s just neat how it seem like this sandbox is so much more flexible than boring old regular Earth.

        • I hadn’t thought of Hawkgirl leading the team, but that would be AWESOME. Hawkman was the original charman of the JSA, so it would fit in with continuity too. That said, I imagine Alan will probably end up being the group’s leader–if not their field leader, then at least the “face” of the team. He’s always been the JSA’s equivilant of Superman. In the old continuity, there were three heroes that EVERYONE trusted: Superman, Dick Grayson, and Alan Scott, and while it’s just a hunch so far based off his characterization, I can see Alan stepping up that way on Earth 2 as well.

        • Yeah, I think Alan’s got to be the face of the group. He’s already a huge public figure that seems to have been standing up for justice in one form or another. But Hawkgirl is taking this shit seriously, which no one else has so far. I’d vote HG for leader.

        • Oh, I guess I was just thinking of Thanagar, but the whole fated-to-be-with-Hawkman could make for YET ANOTHER interesting universe-crossing necessity. Still, it seems like she’s human (or at least expects human things to be normal/has passing familiarity with Roman gods), so where did those wings come from?

  8. Nice review! I have to admit that I found Alan’s acceptance of the Green Lantern (speaking of which, what does the “Lantern” part of his title mean?) role to be a little contrived. He talks to a green flame and gets powers and a costume and he acts a bit “No Big Deal”. I suppose the writers needed to movie the story along.

    I have to say that I am starting to get a bit frustrated with the book. For the most part, I like what I read, but I feel that there is so little forward momentum happening thus far with each issue seemingly focusing on an origin.

    • Yeah – and just when we were getting over our origin-fever from the launch of the New 52. I find it frustrating too, but there is something appealing about having the entire superhero population of Earth-2 covered in this one comic book. After this origin-heavy arc, it has the potential to tell those kinds of big Justice-League-scale stories without having to tie like a dozen other books in to it. It can be a whole world in itself – and that’s appealing.

      • I agree. That is the potential I see in it too, which is partially why I want to stick with it and partially why I kinda want to wait for the trade.

  9. Haven’t read issues #2 or #3 yet, but Al Pratt (the Golden Age Atom) was in issue #1. He was shown to be a soldier in the U.S. military (his height doesn’t seem to have changed, he’s still short, like the Pre-New 52 Al Pratt was). Some people are complaining that Alan’s boyfriend died here and they were expecting to see more of him because of all the hype that this Alan Scott is gay, but the hype was generated more by the media (bleedingcool, newsarama, etc.) than DC itself.

    • Sure, the media made a big deal about it, but DC also made a point of drawing attention to their “announcement.” Ultimately, I don’t think it’s the amount of hype that makes the reveal disappointing, but the fact that his being gay ultimately doesn’t matter. He could have been about to give that ring to anyone, and while it’s cool that DC could treat hetero- and homosexual relationships interchangeably, I can’t help but see it as a ploy to have the media build hype over what amounts to a MacGuffin.

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