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Earth 2 Issue #2

Review by Paul Bowler

The second issue of Earth 2 continues apace with the arrival of Mr Terrific (Michael Holt) in lower Manhattan, where he finds himself cast into a world still coming to terms with the loss of its superheroes in the aftermath of the Apokolips War with Steppenwolf.  As he emerges from the same mysterious vortex that spirited him away from the cancellation of his own series, he is immediately confronted by a man called Terry Sloan (which is indecently the name of the Golden age Mr Terrific) who obstinately believes that his own super intelligence is threatened by his Earth 1 counterpart. Mr Terrific attempts to defend himself with his T-Spheres, but Sloan responds with a nanite virus and defeats Holt by turning his own T-Spheres against him.

We then rejoin Jay Garrick in Lansing Michigan, who has just seen the God Mercury plummet to Earth in a park. Mercury states he has been a prisoner of a dark force, one even more powerful than Earth faced in Apokolips War, and warns Jay that this evil force will soon be coming to Earth. Before he crumbles away to dust, Mercury bequeaths the last vestiges of his power to Jay – transforming him into The Flash. Overwhelmed by his newfound powers, and with a World Army helicopter now hovering overhead, Jay flees the scene to contemplate his destiny.

On the other side of the world, Alan Scott’s plane has now touched down in Hong Kong where he is reunited with his partner Sam – who has booked a surprise break for them in a country hotel. While Alan and Sam leave by bullet train, Jay Garrick begins experimenting with his powers: racing up walls, darting across rooftops, saving a couple from Apokorats, until a burst of his newfound speed sends him careering across the world before finally regaining enough control to slow down – ending up in a field in Portugal and a confrontation with Hawkgirl!

As the bullet train streaks across the countryside, Alan asks Sam to consider relocating his companies head office to the States. Alan then proposes to Sam, offering him a gold ring, but before Sam can reply the bullet train is rocked by a terrible explosion and sent tumbling over a bridge.

With this issue focusing primarily around the origin of the Flash and the revelation that Alan Scott is now gay; it allows James Robinson to build on the premise of this alternative world, which in turn is brilliantly realized by Nicola Scott’s art. It was a refreshing change to see the time spent on developing Jay Garrick’s transformation into The Flash, watching him overcome his self doubts, to his joy at discovering the full extent of his powers. The new costume is also another neat take on a classic design, and I like that Jay’s powers are now more based in magic than science, the way Jay can also mentally command his suit to change into his civilian clothing is also a nice touch.

The media interest generated by DC’s decision to make Alan Scott their new gay character has made this one of the most talked about comics this month. While it may have sparked a wave of publicity, this issue has scant time to concentrate on Alan and Sam’s relationship before they are caught up in the explosive train derailment. Sadly I feel that if Sam is killed in the aftermath of the crash, the hype surrounding this issue will have all been for nothing,  and we will be left with a decidedly downbeat and angst ridden Alan Scott after his transformation into Green Lantern.

Earth 2 is already developing its own rich mythology as James Robinson skilfully breaths life into this alternative reality: something which is neatly portrayed by Nicola Scott’s bustling Manhattan skyline where Mr Terrific observes a memorial for Wonder Woman, the NASDAQ response to Tylerchem’s acquisition of Waynetec, and various media reports as the world prepares to remember the 5th anniversary of The Trinity of Wonders heroic sacrifice. Only two issues in and Earth 2 continues to exceed all expectations. At the moment we can only speculate as to who – or what – the dark forces might be that Mercury warned of, we also have the origin of Green Lantern to look forward to, the fate of Mr Terrific and the grand schemes of Terry Slone, and the resolution to the awkward standoff between Hawkgirl and The Flash in Portugal.

A new Age of Wonders has truly begun with Earth 2, one that has even managed to exceed its own hype to become one of best books so far in the Second Wave of DC’s New 52.