Colonel Dodds, DC Comics, Doctor Fate, Earth 2, Hawkgirl, Helm of Nabu, James Robinson, Jay Garrick, Khalid, Nicola Scott, The Atom, The Falsh, The New 52, The Tower of Fate, The World Army, Trevor Scott, Wotan
Earth 2 Issue #9
Review by Paul Bowler
The storm rages outside Khalid Ben Hassin’s secluded residence in New Orleans as Hawkgirl tries to convince him that he must help her against the evil threat which he himself foretold, one that is destined to unleash chaos and destruction upon the world. But he is afraid to use the magical Helm of Nabu again, fearing that his mystical link with the ancient Egyptian Mage is beginning to affect his mind, which is why he has sent it away for safekeeping. Khalid still maintains his link with Nabu, so he agrees to help Kendra by keeping an eye on Jay Garrick while he visits his mother in Michigan.
With the worlds media reporting that Steppenwolf has been seen in Dherain, along with continued speculation about the New Wonders after their battle against Solomon Grundy in Washington. Jay Garrick walks to his mother’s house, unaware of that Khalid is following him, where he learns that she has been visited earlier by a white haired man called Dodds. Realizing that The World Army has traced his cell phone, Jay has only seconds to react to shield his mother as the Atom smashes his way through the front of the house!
Jay and his mother are soon surrounded by Major Sonia Sato (Judo Master) and her troopers, but Jay quickly turns into the Flash to avoid being snatched by the Atom. As the Flash runs rings around the towering Atom, outside the operation is being supervised by Colonel Dodds, who teleports into the fray to grab Jay’s mother, holding her at gunpoint to get the Flash to surrender. The Major knocks Flash to the ground, but Khalid creeps up and attacks Dodds, giving Jay the chance he needs to uses his super speed to get them all out of harms way. However, before they can escape, the three of them are suddenly enveloped by a mystical field of energy and teleported away.
Flash, his mother, and Khalid find themselves transported to Nabu’s Realm, a strange otherworldly place, were a giant tower dominates the horizon. Khalid has only moments to explain that he is a colleague of Hawkgirl’s, and that he believes they have been abducted by magical forces, before they are confronted by Wotan – Mage of an organization who wants the power of Nabu for themselves. Nabu’s unimaginable power can control the magic of the world, it has been entombed in the tower, and it is this place that will soon forge Khalid’s destiny…
After last issues interlude with Steppenwolf and Fury, events on the alternative world of Earth 2 take a dark turn as supernatural forces begin to make their presence felt, spawning new heroes and villains as the New Age of Wonders continues to gather pace. With this prologue to his new story arc, The Tower of Fate: The Man Who Was Scared, writer James Robinson provides a suitably epic story for Doctor Fate’s return to the DC Universe. The remarkable character, who first appeared in More Fun Comics #55 in 1940, created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Howard Sherman, would serve as a member of the Justice Society of America in All Star Comics #3 (1940), and go on to become one of DC’s most popular mystical beings along with the Phantom Stranger and the Spectre.
Ever since The New 52 was launched three has been much speculation about when Doctor Fate might return. Now Doctor Fate is back in Earth 2 #9, it’s a fantastic introduction, and Robinson’s intricate story pays service to fans of the character while making him accessible to new readers. What is also interesting here is how Khalid and Kendra are revealed to be colleagues who have been working together ever since the New Wonders first appeared. It suddenly becomes clear how Hawkgirl was able to find the Flash and Green Lantern so easily, and how she always seemed one step ahead of everyone. We also lean that Hawkgirl gained her wings when Nabu chose Khalid, perhaps the guilt of that act played a part in Khalid’s decision to send the helmet away. Khalid may not actually don the fabled Helm of Nabu in this issue, but just hearing about the effect it has had on his life is enough to chill you to the bone.
After convincing Khalid to check up on Jay Garrick, we also get a glimpse of how Hawkgirl really feels about Alan Scott when she turns around and use an aptly dressed mannequin for target practice for her rocket launcher. Back in Michigan, the World Army finally catch up with Jay Garrick, with the Atom tearing down the house to get at him. These spectacular action scenes really showcase Nicola Scott’s art, Trevor Scott’s inks also give every scene a vivid clarity, and their work on Earth 2 continually impresses me on every level.
It’s great to see the Atom and Colonel Dodds in action again this issue. There is a wonderful moment where Dodds teleports and his Sandman hat and coat are momentarily suspended as he vanishes, and the look on everyone’s faces when the Flash is suddenly rescued and whisked away is priceless. When Khalid is following Jay he struggles to keep a hold of his senses, rambling about men of lightning and dark horrors, earning himself a few strange looks form passers by. The perpetrator behind the magical forces that have whisked Jay, his mother, and Khalid to Nabu’s Realm is revealed as Wotan – one of Doctor Fate’s oldest foes.
With Earth 2 #9 James Robinson seems to be fully embracing a more mythical form of storytelling, one filled with characters like Flash, Green Lantern, and now Dr Fate who have all obtained their powers via mystical entities. I think it gives the characters much more depth as they try to cope with the awesome responsibility of their powers. The New Wonders have had to explore the boundaries of their abilities, some like Alan Scott have lost loved ones, others like Jay Garrick have managed to turn their lives around, while Khalid and Hawkgirl have been emotionally scarred by the experience.
Earth 2 #9 is a fabulous issues, the pace never lets up for a moment, and the gradual build up to the astonishing cliff-hanger in Nabu’s Realm will leave you counting the days until The Tower of Fate yields its secrets.