The majority of DC’s New 52 relaunch have been both financially and critically successful: from Aquaman to Wonder Woman, Batman to Animal Man. Unfortunately, some of the books have been far less successful and DC decided to drop 6 of the worst selling titles. But every cloud has a silver lining, and with these cancellations come 6 brand new titles. Earth 2 #1 is part of this Second Wave and it brings a fresh & interesting alternate-Earth (hence the name Earth 2) to the latest incarnation of DC Universe.
The opening section of this book has Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman kicking more ass than the entire 8 issues of the current Justice League series. Every blow thrown by the trinity of superheroes is gorgeously displayed by the art team of Nicola Scott (Birds of Prey, Secret Six), Trevor Scott (Superman, All New Atom) and Alex Sinclair (Batman: Hush, 52) and the details of all the characters, even when dozens are on a single page, are never lost. With so many things going on, the dialogue could easily get messy and unclear but well executed captions and bubbles prevent this from ever happening. Even the alternate costumes for the well known characters, which could have also easily gone wrong, look great.
The writing of James Robinson (Justice Society of America, Starman), while not as striking as the artwork, is solid throughout. Superman and Wonder Woman are fairly typical and don’t appear to be particularly different from their main universe counterparts. The differences in the Bat-Family, however, are apparent straight away. The most obvious being that Earth 2′s Robin, while still the child of Bruce Wayne, is not Damian Wayne but Helena Wayne. Some of you who know the previous Earth 2 stories will recognise this name as the daughter of Batman and Catwoman, who will later be known as Huntress (as it says in the book, her adventures as Huntress are continued in World’s Finest #1). Also, this Batman seems far less pathological and sociopathic (he unusually refers to himself as Bruce and says “I love you” to his child, two things Bruce Wayne never does) than his Earth 1 counterpart.
A nice link to the current Wonder Woman series is the direct inclusion of one of her gods Mercury. However, like Robin, there is a quite difference between the two incarnations of the same character. In Earth 2 he is known by his Roman name of Mercury and shown as a golden man with a recognisable winged helmet while in the current DCU he is known by his Greek name of Hermes and is a considerably less godly looking man-bird hybrid. Mercury’s inclusion is key in setting up the second section of the book where the origins of the Justice Society of America are put in to gear. Jay Garrick is well written and, as a 21 year old man who’s about to graduate myself, is particularly relatable. In the last page, Mercury makes his way to Garrick and is seemingly about to bestow his godly powers of superspeed to the man who will become Flash. It’s safe to assume that Garrick will serve as the centre of the Earth 2 series and will be experiencing new things in this new universe much in the same way as the reader.
Earth 2 #1 isn’t entirely positive however. The swiftness with which DC’s three most established characters are taken out plus the fact Super Girl & Huntress are transported to another universe is rather jarring. This seemingly leaves only Jay Garrick (who isn’t even Flash yet) to defend Metropolis against Steppenwolf and the Parademons. I’m left wondering if Robinson will go back and explore the history of Superman, Batman & Wonder Woman or will strive to build the Justice Society of America back to it’s former glory. Only time will tell.
Overall, Earth 2 #1 is a good reboot and a nice addition to the New 52. It serves as a nice jumping on point for people new to DC’s multiverse and an interesting take on Earth 2 for fans of the previous series’.