Earth 2 #18
Review By Paul Bowler
The World Army fleet and the New Wonders have retreated to their Arkham Base after Brutaal killed Steppenwolf in Dherian and was revealed as Superman, the formerly deceased hero of Earth 2, now returned as the herald of Darksied. The Arkham Base is now in ruins after the enraged Superman’s onslaught, the Red Tornado has been uploaded with a new identity, and the mysterious Batman of Earth 2 is about to unleash the prisoners held in stasis within the lover levels of Arkham as the forces of Darkseid and Apokolips begin their invasion. Yet even as Batman’s new allies prepare to enter the fray, the Flash bravely confronts Superman alone so the base can be evacuated, but soon all seems lost as the world cowers before its new masters…
Tom Taylor continues to build on the earth shattering events of last issue as Earth 2 #18 opens with Mr Terrific searching the wrecked Arkham Command Centre for survivors, only to find one of his comrades critically wounded. In order to give everyone a chance to evacuate, Jay Garrick decides to distract Superman. While the furious Man of Steel pursues the Flash halfway across the world, deep beneath Arkham the new Batman is confronted by Major Sato, who is determined to stop the Dark Knight from releasing the prisoners in the stasis chambers.
Last issue also saw Lois Lane resurrected as the Red Tornado, when General Lane gave the order for his daughter’s consciousness to be uploaded into the android. Although the General was killed by falling rubble when Superman attacked Arkham, the transfer was successful, and Lois now exists as the Red Tornado. It will be interesting to see how Taylor develops her character now she is an android; her resurrection is bound to have a significant effect on Superman as well. She could be a secret weapon designed to use against him, or perhaps her return might be enough to sway even this evil zealot’s fanatical loyalty to Darkseid?
Nicola Scott’s art for Earth 2 #18 is as impeccable as ever, with Trevor Scott’s inks and excellent colors by Pete Pantazis, who perfectly balances the muted tones inside the ruined base, with the vivid clarity of the Flash’s global supercharged attempt to outrun Superman, and the sinister pulsating purple hues of the stasis chambers. I really enjoyed the scenes were Superman was chasing the Flash, not only does it once more highlight Jay Garrick’s selfless bravery, you get a real sense of the speed and power involved as they race across land and sea.
Not everyone makes it out of Earth 2 #18 unscathed, there are some very distressing scenes, especially for one officer in the Arkham Command Centre, and Superman’s way of stopping the Flash is guaranteed to make you wince. However, all of this aside, it is the events unfolding down in the lower levels of Arkham that are what really intrigue and shock in equal measure this issue.
We have been teased about the new Batman’s identity for a while now. Though Earth 2 #18 doesn’t exactly spill the beans, Tom Taylor certainly serves up some very interesting clues about this version of the Dark Knight, especially when his confrontation with Major Sato takes a somewhat unexpected turn after the Red Tornado intervenes. However, the man beneath the cowl is a very tough customer indeed, and what remains unspoken in the Stasis Prison will give you much to ponder long after you have finished the issue.
If that wasn’t enough to get you foaming at the mouth for answers, then the prisoners Batman releases from their Stasis Chambers will definitely be a surprise, especially one of them, who I really wasn’t expecting. To top it all, the final stasis chamber, and Batman’s reaction to it, provides an effectively brutal and shocking conclusion to Earth 2 #18!
Earth 2 #18 was another great issue by Tom Taylor. We are given little time to pause for thought as the action unfolds, there is sense of real danger as Mr Terrific and Sloan have to coordinate the evacuation and get the injured to safety. Taylor has quickly established himself on this series with the carnage unleashed by Superman, as well as the return of Lois Lane, while also building the mystery surrounding Batman’s identity, and Khalid Ben-Hassin’s ramblings from last issue will no doubt yield some hidden meanings as we progress.
Although next issue may hold more clues, we will have to wait until the Earth 2 Annual #2 in January to find out more about the new Batman. Taylor does introduce some characters this issue, who will certainly add a lot of potential for the future, and the final moments for one character in stasis will leave you in no doubt that this Batman means business. Now Superman has obtained his objective and the invasion is about to begin, these are dark days indeed for the New Wonders. Earth 2 #18 is a terrific issue, Tom Taylor is doing great things with this title, maintaining the tone and style fans of the series have become accustomed to while gradually moving things forward by introducing new plot threads and characters, which together with Nicola Scott’s superb artwork, ensures that Earth 2 will keep us eagerly awaiting the next issue.