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Earth 2 #16

Review by Paul Bowler

[Contains Spoilers]

Earth 2 #16 (Cover)

The war against Steppenwolf seems lost after Green Lantern, Doctor Fate, and the Flash, led the attack on Dherain, teaming up with Atom, Red Arrow, as well as Colonel Dodds and his Sandmen, only to be savagely defeated by Steppenwolf’s Hunter Dogs: Brutaal, Bedlam, and The Beguiler. Now even the World Army has fallen, proving no match for what remained of Darkseids’ army from Apokolips. With every soldier in the World Army defeated, all hope is gone. Steppenwolf announces his victory to the world as the Wonders of America return to rescue the survivors, a hero will fall, and Brutaal’s identity is revealed at last…

Now that Villains month is over, Earth 2 #16 marks James Robinson’s final issue on the series. I have really enjoyed Robinson’s tenure on Earth 2, so rather than dwell on the circumstances of his departure, let’s dive right in and enjoy every action-packed moment of James Robinson’s last issue as the battle for Earth 2 is rocked by a shocking revelation!

“To the Victor” opens with Steppenwolf facing the advancing forces of the World Army battle fleet as they descend over Dherain’s capital, Draemyre. Almost every moment of Earth 2 #16 has accompanying narration from reporter Lee Travis, who along with her cameraman, is hiding in the rubble as the conflict rages around them, relaying events as the battle unfolds. The soldiers of the World Army soar from the sky as Steppenwolf surveys the chaos unleashed by his fearsome Hunter Dogs on the advancing battle fleet.

Earth 2 #16 (Preview 2)

The art by Nicola Scott and inks by Trevor Scott captures every explosive moment of the conflict raging over Dherain. You will watch in awe as Brutaal launches a devastating strike against the commanding vessels, destroying them with ease. General Jason “Stormy” Foster’s ship is the first to be destroyed; Mr Terrific and Commander Khan only just manage to abandon their own vessel before it too is obliterated by Brutaal’s onslaught.

But it is the carnage on the ground that really strikes home, as Steppenwolf battles the legions of the World Army, cutting a swathe through their ranks. Sixty minutes later the World Army has lost and Steppenwolf is victorious. The vivid tones that colourist Pete Pantazis employs for the spectacular opening soon give way to the bleak greyness of the World Armies defeat as Steppenwolf tramples over the bodies of the dead. These panoramic scenes of carnage are a veritable showcase of Nicola Scott’s tremendous art work; we get to see the Hunter Dogs in combat as well, although it is Steppenwolf and Brutaal who get the biggest slice of the action. This issues cover by Juan Doe is also very menacing, and gives a hint of what awaits inside.

With the help of Doctor Fate’s mystical healing spells, the heroes of Earth 2 recover just as Colonel Dodds receives a transmission from Khan, who says the invasion has failed and they have new orders to rescue any survivors. Putting aside their differences and their confusion over why the Hunter Dogs didn’t kill them while they were unconscious, Doctor Fate teleports the Wonders of America into Dherain to save who they can. Lee Travis looks on as the heroes use their combined abilities of speed, science, and magic to carry out their rescue mission.

Green Lantern races across the battle field to confront Stepnwolf himself in direct combat. The two battle furiously, with no quarter given and none taken. But when Brutaal strikes Green Lantern down with his eye beams, but not even the Atom can prevent what happens next, as Steppenwolf and Brutaal turn on Green Lantern and batter his helpless form into a bloody pulp until he stops moving…

As the dust settles over this shocking scene Steppenwolf notices Lee Travis and advances towards her to make an address to the television camera. Steppenwolf was once Darkseid’s former Grand High Marshal, now the triumphant warmonger savours his victory by declaring himself the master of the people of Earth. Steppenwolf is unaware that Brutaal is about to “slice” into his victory, only then does Brutaal remove his armour to reveal his true identity and allegiance. Reporter Lee Travis and her cameraman is rescued by Colonel Dodds, who teleports them away,  just as a devastating energy wave rips across the world.

Earth 2 #16 (Preview 1)

To say more about the big reveal in this climatic final scene would utterly ruin it, suffice to say that it’s utterly brilliant, and perhaps holds a clue as to why the Hunter Dogs didn’t kill the New Wonders when they had the chance. It certainly offers up some intriguing possibilities for this trinity of villains.

Well, here we are… Earth 2 #16 was a brilliant issue, and it provides an astounding conclusion to James Robinson’s run on the series. Yes, there is a tinge of sadness, I will be sorry to see James Robinson leave this title. As much as I enjoyed this issue I couldn’t help but feel that I had just read a storyline that had been cut off in its prime. While I’m sure Tom Taylor and Nicola Scott will continues to do great things with the series, while retaining the essence of the carefully crafted world Robinson has built, I still can’t shake the feeling of regret for what could have been.

Ok, that’s enough; I said I wouldn’t dwell on the negative side of things didn’t I? Earth 2 was one of the first comics I reviewed on my blog; I’ve covered nearly every issue and look forward to seeing what Tom Taylor has in store for us all. This review is actually the 150th post on my blog, so I’m pleased that it turned out to be a review for Earth 2. One of the things I’ve liked best about Earth 2 though, aside from the story and art of course, is the way it has introduced to me to lots of new comic book fans who also enjoy the title as much as I do. I’ve got to know many of you and look forward to tweeting and discussing the events of this issue. Yes, Earth 2 has had its critics, some have bemoaned the slow pace, but for me Earth 2 quickly became one of my favourite comics. Its funny, I put off reading this issue for a while, I felt like one of the guest at a leaving party, you know where everyone says their farewells and wishes them all the best for the future.

I didn’t want to say thank you and goodbye to James Robinson just yet, I still don’t, but sadly I must. Thank you James Robinson, thanks for all your amazing work on Earth 2, it’s been brilliant, cheers and all the best!