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Earth 2 Issue #1

Review by Paul Bowler

DC’s Second Wave of The New 52 kicks off in a suitably apocalyptic style with Earth 2, boldly reintroducing the parallel world back into DC’s mainstream continuity, and rebuilding the origin of the JSA from the ground up.

Earth 2 opens right in the thick of the action as Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman fight valiantly amidst the ruins of Metropolis in a last desperate bid to bring the Apokolips War to an end by delivering a pre-emptive strike against the seemingly invincible Steppenwolf and his monstrous Parademon horde. This is a world on the edge of defeat: entire continents are in ruins, Metropolis is all but destroyed, Lois Lane is dead, and even Amazon Island and her fearless warriors are no more. Batman leads an all out assault on one of the Beacon Towers that control the Prademon’s in an attempt to plant a virus that will disable the invaders and save the world from certain destruction. While his daughter Helena (Robin) provides him with air support in the Batwing, Superman and Wonder Woman hold back the Prademon warriors – but even they cannot hold out for long against overwhelming such odds.

It is as this crucial moment, when they are being overrun by Steppenwolf’s reinforcement, that the Olympian God Mercury appears before Wonder Woman to deliver the terrible news that the Gods are dying before he too is spirited away to meet his fate. Seizing his chance, Steppenwolf uses a Boom Tube to teleport in behind Wonder Woman as his minions overpower Superman, running her through with his sword as the helpless Man of Steel is vaporised in a colossal explosion!

Batman makes his way inside the Beacon Tower and plants the virus, sacrificing his own life to detonate the device and bring the war to an end. Having heard Superman’s death cry while supporting a squad of troops on a mission in Papua New Guinea Supergirl speeds back to Metropolis to join Robin just as one last Boom Tube opens over the devastated city. The two of them fly into the rift, a story that will subsequently spin off into Worlds Finest, and see the two heroines assuming new identities as The Huntress and Power Girl on Earth Prime.

At this point the scene shifts to the present day and a private jet en route to China, and we realizes that the narration that has accompanied these tragic events actually belongs to a documentary Alan Scott (Owner and CEO of GCB) has made to commemorate the day the world lost its superheroes. While Alan Scott witnesses firsthand the terrible consequences of the Apokolips War as they fly over Italy, we join Jay Garrick in Michigan as he is being unceremoniously dumped by his girlfriend. Dejected and upset, Jay ends up drowning his sorrows on a hill overlooking the city just as a shooting star soars overhead and crashes into the ground. He rushes to investigate as the fallen god Mercury rises from the smouldering crater; proclaiming Jay Garrick to be the hero humanity needs!

Ever since DC embarked on it ambitious New 52 reboot last September, fans have been clamouring for the return of the JSA. Now with the of launch six new series in May as part of DC’s Second Wave of New 52 titles, fans will finally get their chance to witness the origins of their favourite heroes of yesteryear with the utterly brilliant premier issue of Earth 2! This is the book that will give these classic heroes a more youthful makeover – much like their New 52 counterparts – whilst simultaneously providing a fresh approach to the formation of the JSA that will appal to fans of all ages.

Earth 2 opens with a masterstroke of storytelling by writer James Robinson as he boldly charts the fateful day where this parallel worlds last surviving superheroes: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman all die in a last ditch attempt to save the world from the Apokolipian Horde. The full scale destruction of Metropolis and the wholesale slaughter of Earth 2’s lone protectors is stunningly choreographed by Nicola Scott’s superb artwork.

The Price of Victory may be high for DC’s high-ranking Trinity of heroes but it also offers up a wealth of potential for the series. As the story shifts seamlessly to the present day, it is clear that the world is still recovering from the Apokolips War. We only get a glimpse into the lives of Jay Garrick and Alan Scot in this issue, but the coming months will feature their transformations into The Flash and Green Lantern of this brave new world. With Hawkgirl gracing the cover of issue #4 Earth 2 looks set to feature a host of characters that have yet to feature in The New 52. So far DC and Robinson have played their cards very close to their chest when it comes to Earth 2 and exactly what role it will play in the possible formation of a new Justice Society of America. It remains to be seen which fan favourites will return in Earth 2, but we can be sure they will receive the same radical redesign shared by their New 52 counterparts. This issue alone does a remarkable job of redesigning “the big three” with Batman’s new costume in particular being a highlight for this diehard Bat-Fan!

I have been looking forward to Earth 2 for a long time, predominantly because I’m a big fan of the JSA and the concept of a multiverse full of parallel worlds, and I’m happy to say I found Earth 2 a thoroughly enjoyable read from beginning to end. This series offers a wealth of possibilities, and if this issue is anything to go by, Earth 2 looks set to deliver all the action and adventure that its unique premise has to offer.