I’ve broken my long streak of not buying any of the New 52 titles by buying Earth 2 #1. JSA was what got me into comics in the first place, so the idea of the Justice Society existing somewhere in the DCnU was a relief.
Then I read Earth 2. I’m not impressed.
Massive spoilers behind the cut.
We open with narration about the Apokolips War, which was five years ago. Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman are slaughtering a bunch of Parademons in order to end the war.
We learn several things in this scene. Batman is a dad and his daughter, Helena, as Robin. Wonder Woman is angry because the Amazons and their gods were killed. Superman is horribly depressed because the New 52 has some vendetta against marriage and happy relationships in general, which required Lois to be killed offscreen.
Supergirl is busy watching over some troops with nukes as a back-up plan in case Batman fails. We’re introduced to Sergeant Al Pratt, a man who is uptight about the height jokes being thrown his way. The page also involves some obvious cut and pasting. (Dammit, Nicola Scott. You’re a good artist. Don’t pull an Arlem.)
Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman are trying to destroy some towers, which will rob the Parademons of their energy and cause them to fall out of the sky. Wonder Woman is killed via being stabbed in the back and Superman is blown up. Batman lets Helena know that his plan was always a suicide mission, and he blows up.
Supergirl and Robin then go towards a portal which transports them into World’s Finest #1 (on sale now!). A line of dialogue suggests that there were no other superheroes in existence, since they’re all gone now.
We then learn our narrator is Alan Scott and that the slaughter we saw was a documentary. He glances out the window at what’s left of Italy, which is still full of craters after five years.
Cut to Lansing, Michigan where we meet Jay Garrick and Joan. Joan is chewing Jay out for daring to come say goodbye to her when she moves away for her new job at Tyler-Chem. She tells them that their relationship during college meant nothing to her, and that she’s destined for greater things while he isn’t.
So Joan, who was kind and compassionate before the Reboot, is an asshole. I see James Robinson went with the Ultimate Marvel universe method of characterization.
Later, Jay angsts about the break-up and drinks some beer. We learn Jay barely graduated college, in sharp contrast with his previous history, where he was a very knowledgeable science grad. Because it’s much easier for readers to relate to young, stupid characters.
Jay sees a glowing light fall from the sky and runs to investigate. He finds Mercury, who is apparently dying and talking about a greater peril. The issue ends.
Presumably, the next issue will begin with Jay Garrick getting superspeed from Mercury.
I’m not sure who this book is intended to appeal to. As a fan of the Justice Society, my favorite parts have always been the characters and the historic roots of the Justice Society. But the history of the team has now been erased by placing them in the modern day. And given Jay and Joan’s characterization, they won’t be anything like their previous appearances.
Something I’ve grown to hate about James Robinson’s writing is his use of gratuitous character deaths. It’s something that’s been around since his run on Starman – see Starman #38 where the Mist kills off Crimson Fox, Blue Devil and Amazing Man with almost no effort – but only got really blatant with Cry for Justice.
This is frustrating for people who are fans of the characters, since they see their favorites killed off in a horribly cheap manner. It’s frustrating for people who don’t know the characters, since there is no emotional connection with the characters.
The only emotion I felt during the character deaths in this story were boredom and mild irritation.
This issue is mediocre. It’s main purpose is to set up backstory, which is about all it does. I never felt any emotional connection to these characters. We get vague hints of a “greater evil” (probably Darkseid), but “something bad is coming” really isn’t enough of a hook to keep me interested.
I’ll probably read the next couple issues
because I’m a masochist because of my love for the JSA. But it’s already obvious that this will be nothing like the JSA that I know and love.