Earth 2 #20
Review by Paul Bowler
Superman’s plans for Earth 2 take a sinister turn as the forces of Apokolips invade the world. In the skies outside Gotham the Parademons are closing in on Hawkgirl as she carries Batman, Major Sato, and Aquawoman. Fortunately Aquawoman is able to help deal with the Parademons. As the Queen of the Sea returns to her people, Batman, Hawkgirl and Major Sato meet the others back at the Batcave, where the new ally they rescued from Arkham could well help them defeat Superman and alter the course of the war with Apokolips.
Ever since Tom Taylor took over Earth 2 in November the series taken a number of twists and turns, with Superman returning from the dead as the herald of Darkseid, war has engulfed this alternative world once more. Earth 2 #19 also introduced us to a new Kryptonian, a being that Terry Sloan had secretly hidden in the subbasement of Arkham. The identity of the new Batman was finally revealed in the pages of Earth 2 Annual #2; now in Earth 2 #20 we pick up the action as Hawkgirl returns to help Batman and his new allies escape.
Its was great to see Hawkgirl swoop into to airlift Batman and the others away from Arkham at the end of Earth 2 #19, I was beginning to think she’d been sidelined completely, so I’m happy to see that’s not the case. Tom Taylor keeps piling on the action as we witness them struggling to avoid being shot out of the sky by the Parademons. I also really like the way Aquawoman used her powers to help them all escape, it provided a magnificent opening to the issue, and although I was sorry to see her depart I’m sure the Queen of the Sea will be ready to answer Batman’s call when the time comes.
Batman finds that Hawkgirl has brought Dr Fate and Red Arrow to the Batcave as well, and Red Tornado has also arrived with Val and Jimmy Olsen. It will be interesting to see exactly how, or if, Dr Fate’s ramblings will be related to Alan Scottt’s return. Of course, they could point to something else entirely, so we should pay close attention to Khalid’s words – they may not be quite so incoherent as we think.
Now that we know Thomas Wayne is the new Batman, having survived being attacked by Joe Chill, we also saw how Bruce discovered his father had survived but decided to cut him out of his life completely. Thomas Wayne assumed the identity of the Batman after Bruce Wayne’s death, in order to honour the memory of his son. However, at 65 years of age, Thomas had to resort to using Miraclo, a drug he stole from Rex Mason (not Rex Tyler incidentally) which gives enhanced strength but only last for one hour at a time. The inclusion of Metamorpho’s identity, along with the Miraclo drug referencing the Tyler connection and Hourman, is most intriguing, and I’m sure Taylor will address the whole Rex Mason / Rex Tyler quandary in time. The new Batman has admitted he is addicted to this drug. Perhaps most shocking though, was the way he killed the Joker in his stasis chamber. It is clear this new Batman is a very complex character, however with hindsight; it is perhaps understandable now why Thomas Wayne would execute the man who caused such pain and suffering to his family.
We also get to learn more about Val, the young Kryptonian, who Terry Sloan kept hidden in Arkham’s subbasement, sealed away from the world and the sunlight that would charge his Kryptonian superpowers. Val has never left his room at Arkham, so he is very apprehensive of his new surroundings, but luckily Lois Lane, her mind now existing inside the andriod body of the Red Tornado, is able to get through to him. I really enjoyed this scene between Val and Red Tornado; where Lois explains what she is going through in order to help Val overcome his fear of the outside world.
Superman goes on the rampage again in Earth 2 #20, instructing the Parademons to destroy every place of worship around the globe, to show the people of Earth 2 that there is now only one God, and his name is Darkseid! The Dark Age pt 4 features pencils by Barry Kitson and Robson Rocha, as well as inks by Kitson and Oclair Albert, with Color by Peter Pantazis, and together they strike a seamless balance between the early action sequences and character driven moments, while showing the terrifying wrath of Darkseid’s herald.
Tom Taylor brings a lot of plot threads together in Earth 2 #20, time is given over to some significant character development, especially for Val and Lois (Red Tornado), and I thought the final scenes were particularly moving, especially in the light of all the havoc and destruction Superman is causing around the world. After several frenetic, action packed issues, and Batman’s origin over in the Earth 2 Annual #2, Earth 2 #20 is another excellent issue, one that brings a ray of hope into the lives the new wonders during their world’s darkest hour.