REVIEW: Earth-2 #5

by

Or – “Didn’t These Guys All Used To Be Friends?

The advent of a new age of marvels super-heroes on any world tends to be a difficult process, as seen by the New 52 relaunch last year.  With things in full swing for a second age of mighty heroes (though not THOSE Mighty Heroes) the only thing that might stop it cold is the advent of an angry death god in the middle of it all.

Um, yeah.  About that?  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

EARTH-2 #5
Writer: James Robinson
Penciler: Nicola Scott
Inker: Trevor Scott
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Dezi Sienty
Editor: Pat McCallum
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in Earth-2:  The loss of Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and other heroes in combat with the forces of Apokalips have left the alternate world called Earth-2 a vastly different place.  Now, other heroes are rising, as a lost god has gifted Jay Garrick with superhuman speed, an alien force has empowered Alan Scott with green life-giving energy, and both Hawkgirl and The Atom have popped up in their path.  There’s also the matter of Grundy, a seemingly-undead creature on the rampage.  Is there even a chance of forming a Justice Society from these disparate parts, or are they doomed to failure from the very beginning?

ANOTHER OLD FRIEND APPEARS IN A NEW FORM…

The previous issues of Earth-2 were a bit scattershot in their focus, giving us the origin of the Flash, the origin of Green Lantern, the sudden appearance of more heroes and an Earth-shattering threat in less than 100 pages of comics.  (As an aside, the #0 issue came at a very inopportune time for this book for me, as well, interrupting the narrative at a very awkward point, and possibly damaging the momentum of a very young title.)  This issue opens in full swing, with Washington DC under siege by Grundy and his undead forces.  There’s an interesting cameo as the President is saved by a man known as “Commander Dodds” and his special forces agents, known as ‘Sandmen,’ while the leader of the government forces convenes with a shadowy special council.  There’s still a lot of missing pieces in the sociopolitical structure of Earth-2, but it seems clear that the World Army has a few tricks up it’s sleeve. We find that Hawkgirl is one of their nascent superhero army (known as “Wonders” in their parlance) and the World Army wants to use nuclear sanctions to destroy Washington, taking out Grundy, The Flash and Green Lantern in one swell foop…

ADRIAN VEIDT WOULD BE PROUD.

Artistically, this whole issue is beautiful work by Nicola and Trevor Scott, especially a sequence where The Flash climbs up the giant-sized Atom at super-speed to punch him in the face.  There is a LOT of talking in this issue, though, which can slow things down for the reading experience, as Khan argues with his superiors, Atom argues with everyone, Flash asks a lot of questions and Green Lantern tries to parlay with the forces of the Gray.  Even Grundy is much more talkative than usual (as well as evocative of the ‘Blackest Night’-era look of Nekron), but things pick up enough at the end for the cliffhanger to have some emotional punch to it.  I’m saddened at some of the story-telling decisions that James Robinson has made in this book (the killing of Sam to give Alan Scott a heroic motivation still bothers me) but the World Council’s decision at the end of this issue makes it clear that no one is willing to play around in a world devastated by the war with Darkseid.

THE BOTTOM LINE: IT AIN’T 1940 ANYMORE, BUT IT’S STILL GOOD STUFF…

As much as I’d like to see some more differentiation between this world and the world of New DCU Earth, this issue picks up the pace a bit, re-introducing Terry Sloan and name-checking Red Tornado and someone known as Captain Steel, but staying mostly on task with the battle against Grundy.  The art is pretty amazing, even where Robinson’s script bobbles the ball a little bit, and the arc is shaping up to something that could be very impressive.  Earth-2 #5 has as it’s greatest weakness the scope of introducing a whole new world of Wonders, but still keeps the focus enough to make somewhat familiar characters interesting, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall.  I am starting to wonder whatever happened to Michael Holt, but things are at least interesting thus far.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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