Earth 2 Issue #12
Review by Paul Bowler
Earth 2 #12 sees the war of magic between Doctor Fate and Wotan spilling out from the Realm of Nabu and back to Earth, where the battle continues to rage in the skies over Boston as Flash and Green Lantern team up to help. The World Army have mobilised their aerial teams to contain the conflict, but Green Lantern and The Flash stop them from interfering, giving Khalid Ben Hussain the chance he needs to adapt to his new powers as Doctor Fate. With the spirit of Nabu to guide him, Doctor Fate takes the fight to Wotan, using the ancient powers of the Gods at his command to confront Wotan in a duel of hexes and spells.
James Robinson delivers another first class issue of Earth 2, opening with the incredible aerial battle between Doctor Fate and Wotan, before utilizing a flashback to show what happened just after Doctor Fate saved the Flash from the Great Beast inside The Tower of Fate at the end of the last issue. Here we are treated to some great scenes between the Flash and Doctor Fate, where Khalid thanks Jay for inspiring him to become a hero, even though Khalid knows that sharing his consciousness with Nabu could cost him his sanity. Doctor Fate also helps Jay Garrick draw on the power within his own subconscious to repair his shredded costume, which gives James Robinson a chance to introduce a slight redesign of Flash’s costume.
Wotan is waiting outside the Tower of Fate for them with his hostage, Jay’s mother, and is completely unprepared for Doctor Fate’s attack. The spirit of Nabu urges Khalid not to be rash or proud, calling on him to be his chosen champion, and evoke the power of the Gods to open a portal back to Earth where his powers will be stronger than Wotan’s. As the battle crossed back over to Earth 2, the Flash carries his mother and races back through the portal as well.
Over in Macau, in China, Green Lantern is investigating the murder of his lover, Sam, and has asked Hawkgirl to help him. Following up on a lead from Mob Boss Eddie Kai Lung, Green Lantern and Hawkgirl examine a container at the docks, only to discover that it is full of rotting Parademon corpses from the Apokolips War.
The mystical green energy within Alan Scott suddenly tells him that he must return to America, so he leaves Kendra to continue the investigation alone. Despite her protests, Green Lantern says he has no choice but to go where the green energy commands, he asks Hawkgirl to continue the investigation alone while he returns to the states, where he arrives in in time to help the Flash keep the World Army forces at bay while Doctor Fate battles against Wotan. Khalid uses his knowledge of the Gods of Old to great effect as Doctor Fate, combining the transformation powers of Set with the metal working energies of Ptah to ensnare Wotan, before attacking the Dark Mage with the fiery power of the Goddess Menhit and banishing him to the another dimension with the wrath of Horus, God of War.
The New Wonders of Earth 2 regroup at GBC’s company headquarters, Alan Scott’s home in New York City, where he suggests they use his company to create some positive publicity so they will be accepted by the public. However, as Jay’s mother points out, Alan Scott still has his secret identity, its not so easy for her and Jay as people know who they are, and recent events have left them both wanted fugitives by the government. While they decide what to do, Alan offers them the guest quarters below his apartment, but Doctor Fate has a vision as tells them to switch on the television. The breaking news report details how Steppenwolf has been seen in Dherain, where he now rules, and that the World Army has just declared war on the country.
To say that Earth 2 #12 is epic is something of an understatement, as writer James Robinson ramps up the action, with the battle between Doctor Fate and Wotan returning to Earth where they duel with magic above the city. Nicola Scott’s stunning artwork captures every aspect of this thrilling confrontation in incredible detail, along with Trevor Scott’s impeccable inks, and the rich colours of Barbara Ciardo and Peter Pantazis. Its fascinating to see how Doctor Fate’s powers work, the duality of his shared existence with the spirit of Nabu is perfectly portrayed, and each of the Egyptian God’s spells he calls upon offer a limitless wealth of potential for the character. I also like how Nicola Scott puts so much detail into Fate’s costume, particularly the reflections and symbols on the Helm of Fate. The origin of Doctor Fate has been one of the most exciting storylines so far in Earth 2, writer James Robinson has remained entirely faithful to the character, and this spectacular issue showcases many of Doctor Fate‘s mystical abilities.
I really like how we also get to learn more about what has happened on Earth 2 over the last five years in this issue. We already knew how The First Wonders of Earth 2, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman lost their lives during the final battle of the Apokolips War. This issue details the aftermath of that conflict in more detail: we hear of fire pits and Parademon Interment Camps, Cyborg Dead Zones, plagues, and perhaps most intriguingly the Living Thunderbolt is mentioned – which could possibly hint towards the existence of another classic golden age character Johnny Thunder and the genie-like Thunderbolt. It’s also interesting to note that the television reporters name is shown as Lee Travis, which is coincidentally the name of The Crimson Avenger, another classic character from the golden age of comics. Whether the mentioning of these two characters are just a nice continuity reference for fans, or an indication of things to come, remains to be seen. But it is this attention to detail by James Robinson that makes Earth 2 such an enjoyable title.
The subplot involving Hawkgirl and Green Lantern uncovering the container full of Parademon corpses poses some intriguing questions, and I’m sure Hawkgirl will soon find a connection between this shocking discovery and the identity of who was responsible for Sam’s murder. Earth 2 #12 successfully brings several long running plot strands together that have been developing ever since the first issue.
It’s also good to see Green Lantern stepping up to work as part of a team, something he has been reluctant to do up until this point. The World Army now stands on the brink of war with Steppenwolf; we still have the imminent debut of Captain Steel and this alternative Earth’s new Batman to look forward to, and Hawkgirl’s investigation of Sam’s murder. Earth 2 #12 remains one of the best team books around, the art is fantastic, and James Robinson has done a terrific job of reinventing these classic Golden age characters.