REVIEW: Earth-2 #10

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Or – “The Second Wave Is Nearly A Year Old…”

The New 52 launch was, for me, mostly successful.  Though DC editorial clearly chose a few titles/creators to court controversy rather than focus on the product, there was at least a clear line drawn in the sand that said “We’re doing this differently.”  (Even Batman and Green Lantern, though cosmetically unchanged, had some fundamental bits that were drastically adjusted.)  Now, as the New DC works towards its second anniversary, the next big thing has transitioned into the monthly grind of actually delivering titles.  Earth-2 was my favorite of DC’s second wave, but has it maintained its quality?  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

Earth2CoverEARTH-2 #10
Writer: James Robinson
Penciler: Nicola Scott
Inker: Trevor Scott
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Dezi Sienty
Editor: Mike Cotton
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in Earth-2:  The alternate world designated Earth-2 was not nearly as lucky as the Prime DC Earth, as Darkseid’s invasion cost them the lives of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, and shunted Supergirl and Robin out of reality.  A few years later, a new age of wonders has begun, with the empowerment of The Flash, Hawkgirl, Green Lantern, The Atom and others, as well as a mysterious tie between a man named Khalid and a mysterious helmet imbued with the essence of the Egyptian mystic Nabu.  Is this the beginning of Doctor Fate?  Or is Khalid simply doomed to die in an arcane conflagration?

THE HAWKGIRL VARIANT “LARA CROFT” ACTION FIGURE…

I’ve been pretty vocal in the past about the writing of James Robinson.  On the one hand, his work on Starman and the Golden Age were simply amazing, and his grasp of character and dialogue in those books was crisp, simple and cut to the heart of the issue.  On the other, we have Justice League: Cry For Justice, of which the less said the better.  Which James are we getting this issue?

Wouldjabelieve BOTH?  We open with the Cliff Notes origin of Hawkgirl, and cut immediately a tense confrontation between Jay Garrick, his mother, Khalid and the green-skinned mystic known as Wotan.  There are flashes of brilliance in the plotting, but the dialogue kind of comes apart at the seams, with Jay Garrick seeming incredibly young and immature (even for the 20-ish character he’s been recast as) and Wotan’s gravitas undermined by lines like “Don’t.  Mess.  With.  Me.”  Visually, though, there’s utter brilliance in these pages, especially when we actually get to the meat of the story, with Wotan teleporting Jay and Khalid inside the Tower of Fate.  Nicola Scott goes nuts with the magical interface, making a double-page spread of M.C. Escher-like brilliance that still makes narrative sense for the reader.  It’s a great bit of work.

BUILDING ON THE ‘FRIDGING.’

While that’s going on, though, Green Lantern is dealing with the loss of his beloved fiance Sam, mending fences with Sam’s father and running rampant through the Chinese criminal underground to track down those who put out the hit on him and killed his love.  I did not like the sudden death of the love interest when it happened, and I’m very much concerned about this sub-plot and where it’s going, given Robinson’s recent track record in dealing with loss and love and such.  (Lian Harper’s murder was not only manipulative, it was awkwardly done and essentially pointless.)  Still, one revelation does stick out that might rescue this whole plot from the Cry For Justice Scrap-heap:  The explosion was NOT designed to target Alan “Green Lantern” Scott at all.  It was designed to murder SAM.  Hawkgirl gets a few seconds of panel time, which highlight the brilliance of her design (the braids in her hair are especially wonderful, and lovingly rendered in every panel) and we end with a cliff-hanger that promises us next issue will show us Doctor Fate!  But will it be a good Fate or an evil Fate?

THE BOTTOM LINE:  BEAUTIFUL ART, WOBBLY WRITING.

This series has been gorgeous artistically since day one, and Nicola’s revamps of the original Flash, Green Lantern and others are inspired.  Keeping in line with the New 52′s seeming expectation that everybody needs a sleek armored bodysuit (boring homogeny of design is one of my greatest arguments against universes with a single unifying origin, by the way) but still managing to make the heroes look unique and interesting.  She even works in cool visual nods like Jay’s silver helmet and the Atom’s cool camouflage hood, while every character has an individualized face and full range of expressions.  Storywise, there’s a lot of interesting bits in play here, but the gems still contain a few chunks of dirt, especially in terms of some of the dialogue in this issue.  (And, maybe it’s just me, but making Jay Garrick’s mother the center of his character arc rings a little strange and Freudian at times.)  All in all, Earth-2 #10 is a strong issue, borne aloft on lovely art and free from at least some of the homogeny that is creeping into DC’s increasingly angry and edgy comics output, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall.  There’s still not quite enough page-count to cover the large cast, and there’s a lot of great potential in the Earth-2 characters and concept…

Rating: ★★★½☆

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