, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Earth 2 Issue #6

Review by Paul Bowler

With the Earth now engulfed by the decaying tendrils of the rot the new wonders of Earth 2 struggle to make their final stand against Solomon Grundy in Washington.  Realizing that Grundy’s power is somehow linked to his own Earth Energies, Green Lantern entrusts the Flash, Hawkgirl, and the Atom to protect him from Solomon Grundy while he uses his spirit form to confront The Grey in its bizarre otherworldly realm. Meanwhile in the World Army Central Intelligence Hub floating above the ruins of Metropolis, Commander Khan can only watch helplessly as Terry Sloan assumes command of The Sentinel and orders a nuclear strike against Washington to destroy Grundy.

As the nuclear missiles home in on the capitol Flash, Atom, and Hawkgirl fight bravely to defend Green Lantern’s helpless body from Grundy, unaware that The Grey is trying to deceive Alan Scott’s spirit form with an facsimile of Sam (His recently deceased lover) into forging an alliance – promising to resurrect Sam from the dead if Green Lantern will willingly join forces with it and let Solomon Grundy destroy the world. But just as his allies are about to be overwhelmed by the rot, Green Lantern manages to see through The Grey’s illusion; his brief moment of joy giving way to rage as he obliterates Sam’s doppelganger with his power ring and returns to his physical form.

Flash, Atom, and Hawkgirl defend Green Lantern’s helpless body from Grundy

Green Lantern attacks Grundy and pummels the monster into the upper atmosphere, giving the Atom, Hawkgirl, and Flash time to get free as the rot begins to recede now that Grundy is no longer present on Earth. The Atom tries to carry out his original orders and capture Hawkgirl, but the Flash helps her and they manage to escape the giants grasp. With Green Lantern and Solomon Grundy’s furious battle taking them perilously close to the brink of space, Alan Scott is horrified to see the wave of nuclear missiles about to strike Washington. Although his powers begin to fade as they reach Earth orbit, Green Lantern uses the last vestiges of his power rings energies to take out the missiles, tossing them harmlessly into space before blasting Solomon Grundy into exile on the moon – effectively rendering the creature powerless as there is no energy for The Grey to utilize or corrupt on the lunar surface.

With his power ring completely depleted, Green Lantern plummets back to Earth, but Hawkgirl swoops in to rescue him and together they rejoin the Flash. It seems that Green Lantern’s ring has been recharged upon his return to Earth, so he uses it to give the planet a boost of energy to help undo some of the damage inflicted by the rot. The crisis may be over for now, but Flash reminds them all of the warning Mercury gave him about a new danger they will soon have to face, one that could be even greater than the Apokolips Invasion itself. Green Lantern reveals how the Green Earth Entity that gave him his power ring also warned of such a threat, but he dismisses the Flash’s idea that they work together and form a new Trinity of Wonders, believing himself to be powerful enough to handle any situation from now on without their help. So Green Lantern bids them farewell, soaring into the sky, leaving Hawkgirl disgusted by his arrogance and the Flash to ponder their future as flowers begin to bloom in the rapidly regenerating dirt beneath their feet.

Earth 2 #6 is the culmination of several plot threads that have been carefully developed by James Robinson  over the course of this new series, and it is this careful plotting and attention to the finer details of these classic character that continues to make this parallel version of the New 52 DCU so appealing. Not only has Robinson given fan favourites Jay Garrick and Alan Scott exciting new origins, he has reintroduced Hawkgirl and the Atom, as well is the incongruous menace of Terry Sloan and a plethora of new supporting characters to spawn a whole new mythology steeped in the rich lineage of the Silver Age which Earth 2 so successfully seeks to emulate.

Commander Khan confronts Terry Sloan

The winning combination of Nicola Scott’s art and Trevor Scott’s inks once again make Earth 2 a delight to behold. Few titles really capture the energy and excitement of a story, but Earth 2 #6 perfectly encapsulates the epic scale of Green Lantern’s struggle with Solomon Grundy in orbit as the nuclear missiles descend over Washington. It also highlights just how Green Lantern’s and Grundy’s powers are connected to the Earth itself, providing a highly plausible limit to their immense abilities. The rich colours by Alex Sinclair enhances every panel, superbly complementing the kinetic action, all serving  to make Earth 2 one of the most vibrant looking team books of The New 52.

The 6th issue of Earth 2 is bursting with character set-pieces: when Alan Scott nearly succumbs to The Grey’s false image of Sam his retribution is swift and precise as this Green Lantern’s emotional turmoil seems to elevate his rings power to almost unimaginable levels, Hawkgirl’s tactical skills play a crucial role in helping the new wonders hold the line in Washington, and even the Atom seems to realize just how much his loyalty to the World Army has been tested by the crisis when the chance to apprehend Kendra slips through his fingers once again.

For me though, Jay Garrick has been the biggest revelation in Earth 2. This quite, and unassuming character is easily the most appealing we‘ve met so far in this alternative reality. Even in the heat of the battle with Grundy, his thoughts reveal just how much he doubts his own abilities, although he does his utmost to hide his insecurities from the Atom and Hawkgirl. It comes as something of a shock when his hand of friendship is coldly brushed aside by Green Lantern at the end of the story, completely crushing the young heroes dream of building a new Age of Wonders, even Hawkgirl is surprised by Green Lantern’s indifferent attitude towards them. This scene sits awkwardly with the sense of camaraderie that was starting to evolve between the heroes, it also leaves you feeling a bit cheated by the ending, although events are sure to bring them all together again soon.

Although it seems like Green Lantern was behaving very badly, we have to remember that Alan Scott is a man who is used to giving orders as the owner and CEO of GCE, and is probably just delegating, using cold logic to try and come terms with the death of his partner as well as the full magnitude of his newfound powers. That power is in itself symbolized within the ring he was going to use to propose marriage, which in a cruel twist of fate, also served as the instrument that vanquished The Grey’s effigy of Sam and a dream of eternal bliss. There is no excusing Alan Scott’s behaviour towards the Flash and Hawkgirl – particularly as Hawkgirl just saved his life – but it is clear that Green Lantern has some serious issues to deal with, and I’m sure in time he will come to realize that he should have been much more gracious in victory.

The new wonders of Earth 2 make a final stand against Solomon Grundy

This small quibble aside, I think Earth 2 has a very promising future. One aspect I would like to see explored further is the story behind Terry Sloan and Commander Khan’s furious confrontation on The Sentinel. These two characters obviously have a great deal of bad blood between them: most evidently when Sloan taunts Khan about his real father, which yields further revelations about how Khan single-handedly faced Parademons and Terrornauts during the height of the Apokolips War, as well as recalling Sloan’s acts of genocide that saw a third of Khan’s homeland destroyed in that conflict. Khan also gets to turn the tables on Sloan when his faith in the New Wonders is validated by their victory, and it’s a serendipitous moment when Khan smiles and delivers the “wonderful” news to Sloan.

Above all we still have the portent of a new threat yet to be revealed, as well as the exciting prospect of even more classic Silver Age characters waiting to be reinvented within the context of this alternative universe. Earth 2 issue #6 has been one of the most exciting so far, in spite of the somewhat unsatisfactory coda with Green Lantern, and never the less successfully sets the scene for the next chapter in this exciting new age of wonders.