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Earth 2 Issue  #0

Review by Paul Bowler

 

A year after DC Comics rebooted its entire range with the launch of The New 52, DC celebrates this massive event with Zero Month – a series of #o numbered comics – which introduce new characters, secret origins, or as in Earth 2 #0’s case; serve as a prequel of sorts to the first issues released last year.

Earth 2 #0 shows the full horror of the war with Apokolips. Vast areas of Earth have fallen before Steppenwolf’s otherworldly invasion, entire populations have been enslaved and turned into mind controlled Zombies, and even the worlds mightiest heroes are struggling to cope with the onslaught form Apokolips.

This story is narrated by Terry Sloan, the self proclaimed “smartest man on the planet“, who many will recall is the name of the original Mr Terrific from the JSA. Here we learn that Sloan was called Mr 8, who devised a plan with the Ternion of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman to destroy the Rapture Generators which Steppenwolf has constructed to subdue the countries his warriors have conquered.

Having decided to follow Mr 8’s plan and attack the main Rapture Generator, Superman and Wonder Woman beat back the defences while Batman helps Sloan get access to the generator. But Sloan has an agenda of his own, one that will lead to the ultimate betrayal, as he uses the Opal Kryptonite he has synthesized to turn Superman mad so he attacks Wonder Woman. While Robin, her mother Catwoman, and Supergirl do their best hold off the Apokolipitan horde, Mr 8 shoots Batman and then detonates the generators in Italy, Brazil, South Africa, and Pakistan – blasting these countries from the face of the world to in a bid to realize his own mad schemes of conquest.

As he teleports to safety, Mr 8 leaves the heroes to escape the explosive trap he has left behind, sure in the knowledge that his actions will have turned the tide of the war and left the worlds heroes facing a battle they could never win…

Writer James Robinson delivers an action packed glimpse of the events that transpired after Apokolips invaded Earth. This issue also shows the motives behind Terry Sloan’s grand scheme, as well as the shocking lengths he was prepared to go to in order to save the world by sacrificing millions of lives. In his self-absorbed narration Sloan considers himself to be “Eighth and Final Wonder”, having learned the existence of the parallel layers of reality as he attempted to calculate a way to defeat Steppenwolf.

Tomas Giorello’s art supports the frenetic pace of this issue, each panel seems vibrant and full of energy and the sequence where Superman goes mad after being exposed to Opal Kryptonite are particularly exciting. Although we don’t really get to see much interaction between Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman it is great to see them fighting together side by side again.

A Hero’s Tale is not exactly an essential purchase, but it does offer a tantalising glimpse of the global scale of the conflict. It sets up the events that will form the beginning of the end of The Age of Wonders, it succeeds on every level, taking time to develop the character of the series main protagonists, as well as setting the stage for the triumphant rebirth of Earth 2’s superheroes.

The cover by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Rod Reis is stunning; I think its one of the best so far from this range of #0 titles. This issue also leaves us wondering the identity of who Mr 8 refused to mention during his narration, no further clues are given, but it’s a point that is given too much significance to be just a throwaway line . Overall I’d say Earth 2 #0 will satisfy regular readers of this book, revealing the tragic origin of Earth 2’s greatest villain, although I’m sure like me you’ll be eagerly awaiting a return to the main storyline next issue.