Today, Peter and Patrick are discussing Earth-2 0, originally released September 5, 2012. Earth-2 0 is part of the line-wide Zero Month.
Peter: The Second Wave was an interesting move on DC’s part: start handful of series half way through the publishing year. So, many of them launched right in to full-blown stories. The Zero Issues have allowed them some breathing room. Specifically the Earth-2 Zero Issue has allowed James Robinson to flesh out some history before the chaotic and destructive #1 and introduce a new character rooted in the history of Earth-2, and his fate is still uncertain.
The Zero issue takes place mostly six years ago. For reference, this is still one year prior to Earth-2 #1. The main character is Terry Sloan. (He was originally seen in Earth-2 #2, confronting Mr. Terrific.) Terry serves as the narrator and describes the War of Apokolips and the Eight Wonders of Earth-2, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Robin, Catwoman, Mr. 8 (Sloan himself) and two others who he leaves out, because if you knew, you would understand. He goes in-depth about the tactics of Apokolips and insinuates that Darkseid has employed the Anti-Life Equation to take over the world. And because the Anti-Life Equation is taking over world populations, in his search to save the world, Terry discovers the alternate Earths, which he uses as different interpretation to to see optional futures. Using this information, he decides that the best course of action is to destroy those areas with enraptured populations. While working with the other Wonders, he sets off his plan, all the while incapacitating the Big Three. He succeeds in blowing up the locations, creating huge holes in the ground — reminiscent of the fire pits of Apokolips — and then escapes into the Ninth Dimension, which I can only assume is the space between worlds? Is Terry Sloan going to be Earth-2’s greatest savior? Or greatest villain?
I really liked this issue. I was intrigued by Terry Sloan when he was first introduced, because he was the previous incarnation of Mr. Terrific. I like the idea that he is ‘normally’ a superhero in Earth-2, and still has plans for it’s future.
But before we get to Terry, lets talk about the other stuff in here. This issue gives an in-depth description of the several Wonders of Earth-2. First of all, THERE ARE ONLY 8! That’s a pretty elite and small league for the entire world. I am most curious about the ‘other two’ that Sloan refuses to talk about. Who could be so bad that Terry Sloan, creepy smart guy, won’t talk about them? Did they somehow do wrong by the Earth? Also, Catwoman hasn’t been mentioned up until this point outside of being Helena’s mother. Where is she? Dead? I want to meet her.
So Terry Sloan is the focus of this issue. He really fits well into the mold the previously cast by Ozymandias. Lets look at the similarities: 1. World’s Smartest Man, 2. Superhero, 3. Thinks the only way to save the world is to destroy a bunch of it. There you go, they might as well be the same person. Or at least, cousins. His method of destruction is pretty interesting too, since it makes Earth look a lot like Apokolips.
Could Terry’s methods be somehow influenced by Darkseid in an attempt to further his conquest of Earth? Could the alternate Earths he’s discovered be part of an elaborate hoax? Well I don’t think that’s it, since he knows that Michael Holt will arrive on Earth-2. In fact, you can catch a glimpse of him standing over a dead Alan Scott in this shot:
Could this actually happen? Could Sloan be setting Holt on the path to kill Scott? Hmmm. It brings up a lot of potentially cool things that could happen in Earth-2.
This book has done exactly what I wanted it to do; energize me to want to keep reading it. The story had gotten a little stale, but this new direction makes me want more. Sloan is a perfect villain/hero, and he alludes to even greater challenges that could come to fruition, post Solomon Grundy. This storyline could pick up in Issue 6, since Issue 5 is supposed to wrap the Grundy storyline. Hopefully they do, since I want to know what happened with Holt from Issue 2. Patrick, where you as intrigued by Terry Sloan as I was? Do you think he is a good fit in Earth-2?
Patrick: Before we get into the actual issue, I want to pose this question to the readership: Do they ever call the avatar of the Grey “Solomon Grundy?” Or only ever just “Grundy?” Yes, I’m splitting hairs. Yes, I still want an answer. No, I won’t look it up for myself.
Can I make a weird confession? I had sort of forgotten about the prolonged Apokolips War on Earth 2. But this issue did a bang-up job of reminding me what was so compelling about that scenario. More than any other planet-wide conflict that’s going to be addressed in the pages of DC comic books, this had the most severe stakes. We’re never going to see half a dozen cities (though… none in the US, I might point out) firebombed into oblivion UNLESS it’s behind the “it was on a different earth” curtain. It’s the same reason the “Ternion” can be killed. Earth 2 is whatever they want it to be – it holds the same WHATEVER promise of Flashpoint or an Elsewords story, only it’s still canon.
Mr. 8’s design is pretty bad ass. His red and black coloring, along with the goggles and the shape of his head, remind me of ultra-sleek anti-heroes like Daredevil or Deathstroke. Which plays very specifically his morality that… I don’t want to describe it as gray… he’s almost amoral. Like you said – he’s bound by logic above all else. Plus, he and Batman look super cool shooting guns together.
But for being the smartest man in the world, Sloan sure uses a lot of run-on sentences. This is another symptom of the “no one seems to edit Robinson’s writing” problem we identified a few weeks back. There’s nothing on he magnitude of “How’s the hell this happening?” in this issue, but the narration is flabby. Considering that it guides the reader throughout the issue, it should really be tighter.
Thankfully, that shapeless voice-over isn’t the only thing leading us through the story – Tomas Giorello’s stellar art does some heavy lifting too. Most of his drawings of Wonder Woman depict her tits and ass with a little too much juvenile enthusiasm, but that same sense of adolescent wonder applies (much more gracefully, I might add) to his scenes of destruction. The shards of glass sticking out of Sloan’s face at the top of the issue? Awesome. Batman kicking Mr. 8* in the face? Awesome. Planet-wide nuking of major cities?
Just like Peter, I’m hopeful that we’ll get to see more of Mr. 8 soon. If this serves as an introduction to a future villain — while also delivering on the promises of Supes-2, Bats-2 and WW-2 in action — then this was quite the successful exercise in publishing the zero without missing a beat.
Hey man, why you gotta post Mr. 8’s visions of the future and not mention the JUICIEST BIT? Scroll back up there and look at the bottom one. Who are those three figures? The dude on the left looks like he could be the same guy from the previous vision (horns, axe, story checks out). The middle guy could be Darkseid (or any other theory y’all have). But the cloaked figure on the right – I’m going to make the bold guess: Pandora? (Equally mind-blowing, maybe it’s the Spectre).
I was just flipping back through the book and was struck by how much more interesting it is when the forces of Apokolips invade Earth 2 than when they invaded in Justice League. Look at the kind of monsters our heroes were up against on Earth 2.
But invention has never been Earth-2‘s problem. I hope that, in the future, the writing can support these hefty inventions.
*Seriously, “Mr. 8?” He’s the smartest man on Earth – he can’t get an honorary degree and become Dr.8?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?