Thursday, November 15, 2012

Wednesday Comics: Earth 2

When the DC rebooted their universe with the New 52, one of the saddest casualties was the loss of the Golden Age heroes. 

For those unfamiliar, characters like the Flash and Green Lantern first came around in the 1940's along with other popular characters like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.  And while the DC Trinity remained a hit with kids, most of the other heroes struggled for attention.  So in the '60's new heroes were invented with the same name, but different alter egos and different origins. 

In order to explain the differences, DC said that the Golden Age heroes were on a parallel world called Earth 2. 

With the New 52, DC scrapped their Golden Age, which meant the annihilation of all the heroes of that era.  But writer James Robinson has reintroduced the them again in his comic, appropriately titled Earth 2.

On this parallel earth, Darkseid attempted to take over the planet, just as he did in the first story arc in Justice League.  But on Earth 2, only Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman were there to stop him on this world without a Flash, Green Lantern, etc.  The Trinity repels the invasion, but all 3 of the top heroes die. 

The world now exists in constant fear of alien invasion, but without super heroes (or "Wonders" as they call them on Earth 2) to defend them.

This situation allows for the slow introduction of young, fresh-faced versions of our favorite Golden Age heroes with a 21-Century makeover.

Jay Garrick as the Flash is much more reckless than his previous incarnation and he has his origin tied to the Greek god Mercury (which would explain why his costume looks the way it does).

Alan Scott (now recast as gay), is still given the power of the Green Lantern after surviving a train wreck, but the loss of his lover motivates him towards vengeance.

Hawkgirl has also been brought in, switching up her race to make her African American.  Not a lot is known about her, as Robinson is playing her with great mystery.

The last hero to be introduced is the Atom.  Al Pratt always had a chip on his shoulder and desire to prove himself.  Now he is dedicated to being the perfect super-powered soldier to defend his country.

This motley crew band together to fight world-destroying catastrophes while they are not fighting themselves.

But probably the best bit of re-casting has been Terry Sloane, the original Mr. Terrific.  In the Golden Age, Sloan was an unparalleled genius who never saw himself as above anyone else, but believed in "Fair Play," and tried to eleveate his fellow man in stature and dignity.  This new Sloane is the answer to a question: what Mr. Terriffic did not believe in "Fair Play."  The result is a cunning, terrifyingly calculating genius who will stop at nothing to achieve his goals.

In some ways this book is better that the Johns/Lee Justice League.   While both stories deal with events of epic scope, I feel like I have gotten to know the Earth 2 heroes better.  I get a sense of their personality, who they are, their fears and desires.  The Justice League book still keeps you at a distance.  But the only way to care about the adventure is to care about the character.  And Robinson brings his wonderfully humanizing style to all of the people who populate Earth 2 (even the evil Terry Sloane).

 Nicola Scott's clean and classic art makes the book feel fresh and nostalgic at the same time.  The re-designs can be a little over-done (especially the Flash's new costume) but they do add some much needed flair.

I've already written about making Alan Scott gay, and for the most part, my original thought still stands.  My main problem with it is that it doesn't add anything to the story.  Gay or straight, Alan's motivations are clear, so the change seems much more of a gimmick than anything else.

But I have been greatly enjoying this book and look forward to where it goes in the future.

4 out of 4 stars

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