Friday, August 3, 2012

EARTH 2 #4

STORY: James Robinson
ART: Nicola and Trevor Scott

Months before it's debut, James Robinson explained how Earth 2 wasn't just going to be a Justice Society book, how it's title was deliberate in how he wanted to create a whole new world, not just another team series. With fans bursting at the seams for 'New 52' versions of their favorite JSA team members, Robinson could have simply taken the easy route and put the Justice Society together in a similar fashion to how Geoff Johns did so over on Justice League. In that case, Johns needed to quickly establish the team in order to keep up with this new universe's continuity. Luckily, Robinson has a bit more breathing room which allows him to move Earth 2 at a more deliberate pace.

Earth 2 #4 is the first major 'wonders' encounter since Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman sacrificed themselves to defeat an Apokolyptan invasion five years prior (see Earth 2 #1). Solomon Grundy - Earth 2's avatar of the Grey, a facsimile of the Rot over in Animal Man and Swamp Thing -  is rampaging through Washington D.C. and killing everything in his path while demanding to face the Jade Knight. As this Earth's avatar of the Green, Alan Scott feels Grundy's power, knowing it's something he must face. Similarly, Hawkgirl's heightened senses show her that the decay suddenly upon her and Jay Garrick at the end of last issue is coming from America (they're in Poland, remember?) By issue's middle, Hawkgirl and Flash are facing off against Grundy, who seems none too pleased that Green Lantern hasn't shown up.

Many, many critics feel that Green Lantern and Solomon Grundy's connections to the Green and the Rot Grey are too similar to the Jeff Lemire and Scott Snyder's work with these concepts over in the regular old DCU. In their perspective, Robinson is retreading ground and Lemire and Snyder are covering amply. What these journalists fail to see is how important the Red/Green/Rot connections are to each world. As it stands, DC is looking to make this 'New 52' universe inarguably cohesive, a task it stands to accomplish if it can keep writers reigned in when it comes to rewriting history or resurrecting characters, as well as making sure that the events in one book can affect those in another. So while Earth 2 is technically set in another universe, it's the closest parallel dimension to 'New Earth', which allows for the high possibility that they share common elements. The best part is that Robinson is taking already amazing story elements and twisting them just enough to make Earth 2 unique.


Yes, the Atom (Smasher) makes his hardened military 'New 52' debut. While little is actually revealed in the way of expository explanation, a glimpse into the recent past shows a young Pratt unable to control his powers being taken in by the government. Flash back to Al Pratt the human weapon. After the Apokolyps invasion and the end of the Age of Wonders, the world's governments created an international army to make sure Earth would be ready if any alien threat were to come after the planet again. One of these countermeasures apparently includes recruiting Wonders. By the time Pratt is air-dropped into the hot zone, Green Lantern is putting the smack down on the regenerative Grundy who is more amused by Scott's actions than threatened.

While I'm a fan of James Robinson's Earth 2 thus far, it was definitely time for a flashy battle to showcase the characters he'd been building up for three issues so far. And yes, it's a little far-fetched that two characters simply 'felt' the evil of Grundy and therefore were able to find him, but the means of getting to a massive fight in Washington D.C. between Solomon Grundy and Green Lantern, Flash, Hawkgirl, and the Atom are completely justifiable. Plus, a few panels near the end hint at Hawkgirl's (Kendra's?!?!?) connection to Al Pratt and the agency he works for. Earth 2 just gets better and better each month! Even my complaints about Nicola and Trevor Scott's art last issue have been resolved - the lines are cleaner, the faces are bust better, and the that first panel where Alan uppercuts Grundy is astounding.

Robinson recently promised Wildcat coming soon to the pages of Earth 2, along with Doctor Fate and a slew of others. In such a unique position, Robinson is doing everything he can to make the heroes of Earth 2 just as epic and amazing as their New Earth counterparts. In most ways, he's succeeding (I'm looking at you, Hal Jordan).


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