Earth 2 Issue #11
Review by Paul Bowler
The all new origin of Doctor Fate continues in Earth 2 #11 as the Flash and Khalid Ben Hussain begin to make their way through the elaborate corridors and walkways of the Tower of Fate. Here they must face the Great Beast, the demonic guardian of the Helm of Fate, and find a way to confront their innermost fears so they can escape the labyrinth and rescue Jay Garrick’s mother from Wotan. Meanwhile in Dherain, the independent nation’s new ruler, Steppenwolf, has learned of some heroes seen in Gotham City and sends Fury to bring them to him.
Earth 2 #11 is an awe inspiring tale by James Robinson who has successfully crafted a brand new mythology for the introduction of Doctor Fate, while still remaining faithful to many of the classic elements of the character. Opening with a confrontation in ancient Egypt between Nabu and Wotan, we lean how the dark mage used a spell to become immortal, existing as both male and female throughout countless lifetimes. After being defeated by Nabu, the Egyptian mage altered Wotan’s skin, killing the dark mage, and tarnishing Wotan’s flesh with a ghastly hue that would last forever.
One character that has continually stood out amongst the cast of Earth 2 is Jay Garrick. Of all the New Wonders of Earth 2 the Flash has been defined by his youthful spirit for adventure and selfless acts of heroism. Having narrowly evaded the Great Beasts clutches the Flash and Khalid take a rest for a moment on one of the Towers vast walkways. They realize the only way they can succeed is to split up. Jay volunteers to go back and face the Great Beast alone; hoping he can buy Khalid enough time to uses his knowledge of the Tower and find the Helm of Fate so they can escape.
Inspired by Jay’s bravery, Khalid sets off into the maze-like corridors of the Tower to find the Helm of Nabu. As he proceeds ever deeper the spirit of Nabu reaches out to him, guiding him towards his goal. When he approaches the chamber, the spirit of Nabu asks Khalid about his thoughts on the death of his guardian, Kent Nelson, and it would seem that many of Khalid’s fears stem from this event. This is a nice reference to the original Dr Fate by James Robinson, who clearly has a great respect for the character, and it also offers up a number of intriguing possibilities for the future. As he reaches for the helm Khalid asks the spirit of Nabu if he will loose his sanity, but Nabu sates he is merely an echo now, and that he will fade when Khalid embraces his new role. This seems to indicate that Khalid will gradually have more control over his powers, instead of just be possessed by the spirit of Nabu; he could become the sole embodiment of Doctor Fate himself.
Earth 2 #11 features some stunning work by Nicola Scott who brings Robinson’s mystical saga to life with some incredible scenes, with every detail beautifully enhanced by Trevor Scott’s inks, and the vivid colours by Alex Sinclair and Peter Pantazis, Earth 2 continues to raise the bar with each successive issue. From the first page we are propelled into the past to witness the magical duel between Nabu and Wotan in Egypt, with events fluidly dovetailing into the present as Wotan recounts his origins to Jay’s mother, through to the huge vaulted chambers of the Tower of Fate itself as the Flash and Khalid creep along the gravity defying walkways.
When the moment comes for Khalid to put on the Helm of Nabu he is instantly transformed into Doctor Fate and rushes to save the Flash from the gnashing jaws of the Great Beast. This fantastic moment is perfectly realized by Nicola Scott, as the new Dr Fate bursts from the page swathed in a magical glow, his armour gleaming with incredible energy. This issues stunning gatefold cover by Brett Booth not only features Doctor Fate, but also heralds the return of Mr Miracle, whose redesign of Mr Miracle is also a faithful enhancement of the original characters appearance.
The stage is now set for an epic showdown between Doctor Fate and Wotan. It will also be interesting to see Fury hunting down Mr Miracle in the ruins of Gotham City. Earth 2 #11 has been one of this series most hotly anticipated issues to date, Doctor Fate’s return has lived up to all my expectations, and in many ways its actually exceeded them. Earth 2 has reintroduced these classic heroes back to the New 52 DCU with a flair of creativity that will satisfy fans of all ages. It has taken decades of complex storylines and reinvigorated them for a whole new generation of readers, offering a fresh perspective with some truly awe inspiring artwork.