The first volume of the New 52’s Earth-2 completely failed to click with me. However, with the end of Convergence we are getting a brand new beginning for Earth-2. Literally. Earth-2 itself is brand new. Gone is the New 52 banner from the cover. As we start fresh with a soft reboot for this title I am curious to see if we get different characters and a new tone on this title.
Personally, I would like to get a title that reflects the tone and feel of the JSA that we got prior to the New 52 reboot. I felt that the New 52 Earth-2 was too obsessed with tearing apart what was Earth-2 and more focused on a dark and gritty Earth-2. I also felt that the creative team was too occupied with unnecessary radical changes to the classic JSA characters that we have known and loved for so long. Most of the changes simply felt like change for the sake of change.
Does this new start for Earth-2 free from the New 52 banner give these characters a new lease on life or is this still a 1990’s Image style re-imagining of the JSA? Let’s find out!
Words: Daniel H. Wilson
Art: Jorge Jimenez
Colors: John Rauch
Story Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin 1 year after planetfall. (See the end of Convergence #8 for the full back story on how the new Earth-2 was formed.) We see Batman (Dick Grayson) in New Gotham (Which is already a Gothic crime ridden city…in just ONE year. Really?) Dick is hot on the trail of Terry Sloan.
We see Terry being chased by three masked figures. The three figures finally corner Terry. One of the three figures turns out to be Johnny Sorrow. Johnny says that Terry has ruled from above for long enough. That is it now time for Terry to face the truth.
We slide backward to twelve months earlier to the end of Convergence #8. Dick is lying on the ground as the new Earth-2 has been born. Dick can feel his ability to walk fade away. He is crippled once again. Dick thinks about how Darkseid destroyed the original Earth-2. That Dick’s wife died during the attack. That survivors of Earth-2 fled on huge spaceships. Dick’s son is on one of those spaceships.
Sloan orders Commander Sato to engage descent override so that the spaceships land in their designated spots. Alan Scott has left new Earth-2 to protect the universe. Sloan says that the world will begin again with 12 different cities all under the rule of Overwatch-One. Commander Sato say that the ships are not meant to land and that half of them are breaking up. (Wait, they evacuate a planet in space ships to search out a new life supporting planet but those ships are not able to land?! How does that make any sense at all? What were they planning to do when they found a planet? New 52 logic at its best!) Sloan replies that most will survive and that they will thank them one day.
We see one of the space ships crash-land in the site that would become New Gotham. Alan Scott appears on the scene to help the space ship land. Out of the ship comes Huntress. Alan tells her that the ship and the people are safe. Huntress says that they need Alan’s help. Alan responds that singular needs are of no concern to him. That he now exists to preserve all of life. Alan then flies off. Red Arrow and Mr. Terrific then exit the ship. The Huntress tells them that Alan has left them.
Mr. Terrific finds Dick Grayson. Mr. Terrific carries Dick back to the ship.
We cut back to one year after planetfall. Batman beats up some thugs. Batman bitterly thinks “A better world. Right.” A voice over Batman’s headset tells him to stay on target. That they need to get to Sloan. Batman makes his way over to where Johnny Sorrow and his thugs have trapped Sloan. Batman takes out Johnny’s thugs. Johnny is about to take off his mask when Batman fires some “metamaterials” that his terrific armorer made for him. These “metamaterials” cover Johnny’s face and take him down. (I think that is what happened. This part of the issue is really sloppy and it is hard to tell what is going on.)
Sloan then activates his jet pack wings. (And why didn’t he use these earlier when running from Johnny Sorrow? Logic is hard.) Batman says that Sloan has been charged with crimes against humanity. Sloan responds “By whose authority.” (Fair question.) Sloan says that Overwatch has been compromised. That Sloan is alone and on the run. Sloan asks Batman “Tell me the truth. Did he send you?” Batman responds “He, who?”
Sloan then blasts off into the air. Batman fires his grappling gun and hooks to Sloan’s jet pack. Sloan then flies Batman into the side of a building. Batman crashes to the ground. Batman lays on the ground and thinks how Sloan has more firepower than anyone on Earth-2 and, yet, someone has him scared out of his mind. End of issue.
The Good: Earth-2 Society #1 was a disappointing start to this “new” beginning for this title. Now, that is not to say that there were not a few bright spots to this issue. There are. First and foremost would be Dick Grayson. I thought Wilson did a fine job capturing Dick’s personality in this issue. I particularly enjoyed how Wilson wrote Dick as Batman. This was a good blend of Dick’s regular personality that we know and love from his past as Robin and Nightwing and Bruce’s personality. Dick still has his humorous whit yet it has been seriously tempered by a healthy dose of bitterness and cynicism that is normally reserved for Bruce Wayne. I actually like the end result. We get a Batman that is properly cynical but still has some humor and hope in his heart.
Earth-2 Society #1 was a well paced and plotted issue. There was nothing slow about this story at all. And the enjoyable part was Earth-2 Society #1 was not choppy or scatterbrained despite the quick pace of the story. Wilson keeps his focus throughout the issue and delivers a relatively compressed read that moves with a clear purpose in mind. I was impressed that Wilson used an economy of pages to effectively fill in the back story for readers who may have missed Convergence #8. Wilson does not waste time giving too much backstory and recycling too much of what occurred in Convergence #8. Instead, Wilson gives just the essentials and does so in an entertaining fashion that also nicely fits into the flow of the story for this issue. I appreciate when backstory is given in an organic fashion rather than forced flashback scenes or long and boring narrated scenes.
Wilson also set up the main mystery for the opening story arc and ended the issue with a solid hook ending in an effort to entice readers to come back for more. Wilson teases us with the mysterious “He” who is such a dangerous character that even the seemingly all-knowing and all-powerful Sloan is terrified of him.
The Bad: Earth-2 Society #1 was supposed to be a fresh start for this franchise. It was supposed to be a new beginning as a part of the new DCU under the DCYOU banner. It wasn’t. Instead, what we got was more of the same New 52 Earth-2 that has been so underwhelming the past several years. Earth-2 was a struggling New 52 title that was selling in the 27,000 unit range prior to Convergence. Given the consistently low sales numbers and the fresh start that Convergence and DCYOU presented to this title I thought that DC would use this opportunity to unveil a significantly refreshed take on these classic Earth-2 characters. I thought that since Convergence’s main purpose to bring lapsed readers back into the fold and get them interested in some of DC’s new DCYOU titles that DC would offer a more classic interpretation of Earth-2 similar to what we had prior to the New 52 reboot. Clearly, that did not happen.
Earth-2 Society #1 presents to the reader the same vibe and tone as the old New 52 Earth-2 title. What was part disappointing and part unbelievable was that the new Earth-52 is already a dark and gritty place in just one year. That New Gotham is so failed in just a year was way too over the top. It was not believable and seemed way too forced. Based on what we got in Convergence and the talk about the DCYOU being a new direction from DC, I honestly thought we would get a more positive and brighter Earth-2 in this new title. Sadly, we got more of the same New 52 Earth 2. I am unsure of why DC would even bother creating a brand new Earth-2 just to go right back to what we were getting with the New 52 Earth-2. This seems like such a wasted opportunity to do something different and actually try to increase this title’s readership.
There were too many gaps in the internal logic of this issue. Wilson does several things that makes no sense. In addition to New Gotham descending into a grim and hopeless city in just one year we also get several other plot points that leave the reader scratching their head. The scene where Sloan crash lands all of the escape vessels makes no sense. Wilson writes that the escape vessels were not designed to land. Huh? That makes absolutely no sense. Ships are constructed to abandon a dying planet and then to search out a new planet, yet they are not capable of landing on the new planet. That was just way too ridiculous. It pulls the reader completely out of the story.
Earth-2 Society #1 feels like a thin read. Wilson does a nice job with the plot line involving Sloan and delivers a solid hook ending with the mystery surrounding the man who is hunting Sloan. However, nothing else is done with this issue. The other characters are barely touched on. Even Alan Scott receives only a cursory explanation of what his character is up to with the birth of the new Earth-2. I thought that given the central role that Alan played in the creation of the new Earth-2 that he would have played a more active role in Earth-2 Society #1. The lack of depth in this issue is quite noticeable by the time the reader finishes this issue.
The shallowness of Earth-2 Society #1 leads into my next criticism with this issue. Once again, when faced with trying to restart a flagging title in Earth-2, DC does what it always does when trying to boost sales. They lean on their greatest crutch: Batman. Earth-2 Society #1 is powered completely by Batman. Batman always seems to be DC’s answer to any and all problems that they might face. It is of no coincidence that in the debut issue of this new title that DC chose to center it all around Batman. The strength and appeal of the Justice Society of America prior to the New 52 reboot was the strong collection of characters. The sum was truly greater than the individual parts. The large cast and their relationships with each other is what made the JSA such a compelling read. It is a shame that DC does not appear to be headed in that direction with this new start to the new Earth-2.
The artwork was less than enjoyable. Jimenez’s art was incredibly uneven. Some panels looks quite nice. Other panel were so muddled and messy that it was hard to see what was going on. Some panel just looked a bit sloppy and rushed. Jimenez seemed to struggle a bit with the layouts in this issue. The colors were dull and uninteresting. I know that was done to match the tone of the story but it made for a muted and less than appealing looking issue.
Overall: Earth-2 Society #1 was a disappointing read that failed to capture on the potential that Convergence offered DC. Wilson’s story was simply average. This issue offered up nothing more than what DC was dishing out with the old New 52 Earth-2 title. If Convergence and the subsequent DCYOU campaign was designed to bring lapsed readers back into the fold then Earth-2 Society #1 certainly failed in that endeavor. I would recommend this issue only to readers who were already buying the old New 52 Earth-2 title.