Slowly, your favorite Golden Age heroes are returning to the DC universe. Called the second Age of Wonders, these new heroes attempt to fill in for their deceased superhero predecessors, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. With the Earth rebuilding after their war with Apokolips, Green Lantern, Flash, Hawkgirl, and Doctor Fate must combat a revitalized invasion lead by Steppenwolf and the World Government Army who wants them captured.
A great annual
Previously in Earth 2: Khalid Ben-Hassin, inspired by Jay’s courage against great danger, puts on the Helm of Nabu, becoming Doctor Fate. With Jay Garrick a.k.a. Earth 2 Flash, they battle Wotan to rescue Jay’s mother. Realizing Wotan is too powerful in the realm of Nabu, Doctor Fate teleports their battle to Earth 2 along with Flash and his mother. As Green Lantern arrives to help the Flash distract the World Government Army, Doctor Fate defeats Wotan, banishing him to another dimension. He then teleports Green Lantern, Flash, and Flash’s mother to Green Lantern’s broadcast headquarters. When Green Lantern suggests they stay in the tower while he rejoins Hawkgirl’s investigation in China, Doctor Fate receives a prophecy. He tells them to turn on the news, and they learn that Steppenwolf has been located. The World Army has declared war on him.
MORE GOLDEN AGE HEROES RETURN
James Robinson moves away from Green Lantern, Flash, and Doctor Fate to focus on other superheroes in Earth 2’s first annual issue. Most of the comic is about the events leading up to Atom receiving powers and his mission to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Atom a.k.a. Al Pratt is looking for Henri Roy, a black market dealer in Apokolips technology. Hidden in the pages are the revamped versions of Brainwave and Brainwave Jr. under different aliases. Robinson displays his broad knowledge of Golden Age heroes and villains, gradually reintroducing them in Earth 2. Although the focus is on the Atom, there are three separate stories in the annual. The other two plots follow the new Batman of Earth 2 and the New Gods, Mr. Miracle and Big Barda in Gotham City. I particularly look forward to the new Batman of Earth 2. He is definitely not Bruce Wayne, who died in the first issue of the series. There are a number of possible candidates but hopefully they reveal his identity soon. Surprisingly, the stories are connected; for example Batman appears to save Atom, while Barda and Mr. Miracle are looking for the new Batman. However, despite these connections, this annual issue mainly serves to fill in gaps within the Earth 2’s central plot. Many characters have been introduced without them having much involvement in the main storyline. This issue serves to inform readers what the heroes have been up to and their motivations.
EARTH 2 BATMAN’S REDESIGN
Cafu and Julius Gopez do a fine job filling in for Nicola Scott in this annual. The art is so similar to the original artist, I could not tell the difference. The new Earth 2 Batman’s redesign looks like Flashpoint’s Batman with the red and dark gray color scheme, red bat symbol, and red eyes. Although readers have seen Earth 2’s Gotham City in previous issues, it is still remarkable how well Cafu and Julius Gopez capture this setting.
BOTTOM LINE: A GREAT ISSUE BUT TOO COSTLY
James Robinson creates a great annual issue for Earth 2. Although most of the stories are compelling, they have nothing to do with the main story arc and reveal little in regards to the coming war between the World Government Army and Steppenwolf. At about five dollars, it’s a good issue to add to the collection, but expensive enough to skip it.