Before the series even began, James Robinson was giving interviews in which he explained how Earth 2 would be work as a series. He went into detail about how this wasn't just a Justice Society of America book, rather, that it was more about building a whole new world without the restrictions of the main DCnU. And so far, Earth 2 has been amazing -- Robinson is introducing new ideas, characters, and situations at a deliberate pace to make sure all the right narrative beats get hit. Plus, Doctor Fate!
Earth 2 #9 brings readers back to the 'main' story of the series after veering off for a month to focus on Steppenwolf and his protege, the Amazonian Fury. Alan Scott took off at the end of Earth 2 #7, so he gets no panel time this month. I know that sounds harsh, but Alan got the most character development throughout the first six issues of the series, so it's about time Robinson gave the same treatment Flash and Hawkgirl. Doctor Fate is the connecting element this month, as he starts the issue with Kendra Saunders (Hawkgirl) and ends it by assisting Jay Garrick (Flash) in escaping from the clutches of the World Army. The new Fate is Khalid Ben-Hassin, a reluctant recipient of powers who loses his grip on reality when he's forced to channel the spirit of Nabu and become Doctor Fate. Khalid's situation is unique in that using his powers causes a direct adverse reaction: temporary insanity. And while this is a good idea, Robinson doesn't go far enough in explaining what that's like and how it feels -- he could have easily thrown in some metaphors or symbolism to push the concept across all the better.
Nicola and Trevor Scott's artwork gets better every issue. Early on, they had difficulty producing real emotional nuance, but in recent months, the facial expressions have been better, and the body language has improved, as well. Khalid's reluctance to almost everything he does this issue is conveyed perfectly because that facial expression barely changes from panel to panel.
The opening pages of Earth 2 #9 reveal that this new story arc is called "The Tower of Fate", implying we'll be getting at least three issues to flesh out Khalid's new gig as the hand of destiny. James Robinson is building up his version of the Justice Society very slowly, though he's mentioned that the team proper won't be together until the title's second year, which is approaching rather quickly. It will be interesting to see how Robinson puts all the pieces together in coming months, especially since a little over half of the classic roster of the JSA works for the World Army and is actively hunting the rest of the new Wonders.