Earth 2 Issue #10
Review by Paul Bowler
While visiting his mother’s house in Michigan, the Flash is attacked by the by The Atom and Major Sonia Sato. In order to distract the Flash, Colonel Dodds teleports into the fracas and holds Jay’s mother at gunpoint, enabling Major Sonia to subdue the Flash with her martial arts skills. Fortunately Hawkgirl has sent her friend, Khalid Ben Hassin, to watch over Jay Garrick. Khalid attacks Dodds, giving the Flash a chance to break fee and rescue his mother, but as they attempt to escape all three of them are suddenly teleported away by magical forces.
The Flash, his mother, and Khalid find themselves transported to the mystical Realm of Nabu. As they gaze up at the ominous looking tower on the horizon they are confronted by the green skinned mage, Wotan, who represents a secret organization that wants to acquire the power of Nabu. After Wotan refuses to send his mother home, Jay attack the dark mage, but Wotan uses The Angry Spell of the Dark Heart to leave the speedster writhing in agony. Khalid explains that he found the Helm in a tomb in Egypt with Kendra, and how it almost drove him mad when he put it on. Rejecting his destiny as the chosen vessel of Nabu, and in an attempt to regain his sanity, Khalid commanded the Helmet to seal itself way in the tower where no one could reach it again.
Wotan wants the Flash and Khalid to retrieve the Helm of Nabu from the tower, as their powers are magically attuned to Nabu’s Realm. In order to ensure their obedience, Wotan threatens to kill Jay’s mother if they refuse, before magically teleporting Khalid and the Flash inside the tower.
Meanwhile in the Jiangsu Province of China, Alan Scott stands before Sam’s graveside with Mr Zhao. He offers Mr Zhao his condolences, and apologizes for missing Sam’s funeral. Having been consumed with grief, Alan didn’t go to the funeral, and he is unsure what reception he will get from his deceased partners father. Mr Zhao openly admits he never entirely approved of Alan’s relationship with his son, he is nevertheless more understanding than Alan expected, and pleased that Sam was so happy while they were together.
Until now Alan had believed that he was the target for the train attack that resulted in Sam’s death, but Mr Zhao has been investigating the cause of the explosion, and it turns out that Sam was really the target all along! After trying unsuccessfully to find out why Sam was targeted for death Green Lantern travels to Louisiana, were Hawkgirl has just defeated a Parademon cell, and asks for her help. Back in the Realm of Nabu the Flash and Khalid are exploring the bizarre interior of The Tower of Fate, desperately trying to make sense of their surroundings, but their chosen path leads to an encounter with demonic forces from very the pits of hell itself…
The Tower of Fate storyline begins in earnest with Earth 2 #10 as James Robinson propels us into the intricate mythology that surrounds the legacy of Dr Fate. Where last issue acted as something of a prologue to the main event, here Robinson skilfully introduces the magical Realm of Nabu, detailing Khalid Ben Hassin’s first encounter with the Helm in Egypt with Hawkgirl through a series of flashbacks that meld seamlessly into the ongoing narrative. Although we don’t get to see how Kendra got her wings, we do see the moment afterwards, where she is struggling to cope with her sudden mutation as Khalid reaches out towards the Helm of Nabu.
We gain a far greater understanding of the Egyptian Mage, Nabu, who was able to use his arcane might to transform chaos into order, and how his long dormant powers were discovered by Khalid when he was sent by the military to investigate the tomb with Kendra. Unable to cope with the helmets immense power, Khalid was overwhelmed by Nabu’s spirit, so he sent the Helm of Nabu to this dimension to be sealed in the tower where it would be safe. Wotan also gets to show how charmingly malicious he can be, using his powers to viciously attack the Flash, although we still have yet to lean who he is actually working for.
The work by Nicola Scott and Trevor Scott on Earth 2 #10 is some of their best yet, and they take full advantage of the otherworldly setting to create some incredible visuals, culminating in Jay and Khalid’s journey inside The Tower of Fate itself. These incredible scenes are reminiscent of the Klimmen en Dalen (Ascending and Descending) by the Dutch painter MC Escher, with Khalid and the Flash exploring gravity defying walkways, its disarming uses of perspective will leave you marvelling at one of this titles most intricate spectacles to date.
It’s also good to see Alan Scott return after Sam’s death. He has a reconciliation of sorts with Sam’s father, Mr Zhao, in China where he learns that Sam was actually the intended target during the attack on the train. Green Lantern sets out to discover the truth, determined to find out why Sam was targeted, but he soon learns that brute force alone will not provide the answers he’s looking for. Green Lantern is unable to find any leads to Sam’s murderers in China, so he tracks down Hawkgirl in Louisiana and asks her for help. After being so dismissive of working with the New Wonders of Earth 2, it’s a refreshing turn of events to see Green Lantern acknowledge that he was wrong to be so dismissive of them, and the fact that he turns to Hawkgirl for help is a clear indicator that Alan Scott is beginning to realize the benefits of working together as a team.
While Earth 2 #10 doesn’t see Khalid Ben Hassin transform into Dr Fate this issue, we are now tantalisingly close to that moment. I think its marvellous how James Robinson has taken the time to make this prelude to Dr Fate such an integral part of Earth 2’s ongoing storyline. He has endeavoured to make Dr Fate’s return a spectacular event, reimagining his origin for a new generation of readers, whilst remaining true to the essence of this classic character. Earth 2 is constantly entertaining and well written, the art is spellbinding, and with Khalid about to embrace his destiny as Dr Fate, Earth 2’s first year has seen the title continue to deliver on all fronts.