Earth 2 8

You’ll remember that last month, my first Wednesday review was of Earth 2. It seems appropriate that now my first review of a series I’ve already looked at is the eighth issue of that same self title. Maybe this will go quickly. 

Last month I warned that Earth-2 felt like it was having a month of filler. I must retract that. This is filler. It’s not that we’re not introduced to a number of new concepts, we are, but not enough. Not nearly enough to justify such a slight glimpse of this sister Earth.

Worse still, all tension is ripped from the issue by its cover which, at least, can claim that it is that rare one that actually expresses the contents of its book. But somehow, when DC isn’t slapping random art onto books, they’re spoiling far too much through the cover. Sorry if you feel spoiled by my confirmation that the cover is a fairly literal representation of the issue, but I’ve left what meager secrets it hides unspoiled, don’t worry.

This issue reintroduces us to Steppenwolf, leader of the successful Apokoliptan invasion of five years past. Steppenwolf has been in hiding since the trinity of heroes sacrificed themselves to put an end to his schemes and this issue fills us in on what he’s up to and why he’s been so quiet. The problem is that Robinson accomplishes this in a matter of pages. After that the book follows its most obvious course to its inevitable conclusion

Worse still, Robinson’s wordiness is on full display, but his writing chops aren’t. I know he’s a better writer than this, but there’s really no excuse. With all the space he had to fill, you’d think he’d manage to achieve his goals with some subtlety, but it was not to be.

Especially after proving you can write beautifully, you can’t give us lines like: “Kill me? How…when you’re so busy dying?” Between the dialogue, the sensationalist cover, and the costumes this issue feels straight out of the most despised parts of the 90s, something DC has had a serious problem with of late.

The art is lovely but standard, and, abandoned by Robinson, Cinar cannot right the ship alone. In such a visual issue, Cinar’s art bears the brunt of the load, and as such every flaw is apparent. I suppose it’s actually a compliment that there are so few but some poses are awkward and there’s at least one panel that might well serve better use as a meme. It’s a shame that he had to be so dragged down by a lackluster issue, he’s been good for the series even following the hard act of Nicola Scott.

The layouts are again noticeable and, likewise, less impressive than last time. The climactic spread lacks any apparent justification for its second page and often the layouts draw attention to the limited progression through the book. This seems to be Robinson’s doing again.

It’s sad to be so harsh on a writer who I’ve enjoyed so much lately but this issue doesn’t at all live up to Robinson’s other work or even the other issues of its series. A Wikipedia search will likely prove an entirely adequate replacement for this issue.

 

 

 

From here on out we’re in spoiler territory, if you don’t have the stomach for it you should turn back now.

 

 

Alright?

 

 

Alright.

 

 

I would like to quickly discuss the problems surrounding the reveal. Though I was technically wrong in believing that Earth-2’s Wonder Woman had somehow survived and been corrupted by Apokoliptan brainwashing, the reveal does little to challenge this. I mean, yeah it’s not actually Wonder Woman, but what meaningful difference does that make? What relationships does either character have that would distiguish one from the other? Worse still, the issue plays this secret for all that it’s worth. Even if you read this story without the cover, you would probably reach the moment of truth expecting Steppenwolf’s soldier to be Wonder Woman, and when the time came you might even be surprised that they bothered to have it not be.

Additionally, the reason that so many were so sure that it would be Diana, is because we had already seen the character. She looks exactly like The Wonder Woman of Earth-2 with a palette swap and some Apokolips-style semi-nudity. If Fury is not Wonder Woman, however closely inspired by her she may be, she should be distinguishable in some way, and especially so if you’re going to try to misdirect the audience. It’s a very strange matter and one that seems to have come together in the combination of Robinson and DC editorial’s mistakes.

The one other thing I want to mention is that Earth-2 is an alternate reality title. As such we are more forgiving but also hyper-aware of divergences from the DC Universe we know. This issue reminds us of a serious one without providing any clues as to what has caused it. Though both the primary DC Earth (New Earth? Can it be New Earth without a Crisis?) and Earth-2 suffered an Apokoliptan invasion, the players on both sides were somewhat different. While I think we all can accept that the Justice League was not formed in the same arrangement that we saw in Geoff Johns’ title, the very nature of this issue reminds us that we still have not heard a whisper from Darkseid in this dimension.

Is he out there somewhere, unrelated to Apokolips? Is he pulling Steppenwolf’s strings? Is he still on New Genesis? Has he not been born yet? Does he even exist? We don’t know! But the fact that this invasion succeeded while Darkseid’s failed, draws attention to this change. With all the wasted space in this issue I feel we should have learned more about Apokolips, it’s overlord, or his absent nephew.

Robinson seems aware that this is a lesser issue. He repeats the same trick as the last issue used on its first page and he even tries to lampshade the absurdity of his plot before handwaving it unconvincingly.

Least importantly but perhaps most perplexingly is Robinson’s habit of contradicting himself within this single issue. Most notably, Steppenwolf begins the issue by stating his appreciation for metaphor but ends by claiming that he doesn’t do “poetic”. If there’s a difference I can’t find it. If Robinson is going to try to sell this comic on the quality of story rather than the quantity he’ll have to do better.

This series has proved adept at interpreting old ideas in new ways, but while there are some moments of cleverness, it just falls short. A sad pitfall for Earth-2.

Advertisements