“Earth 2” #14 is a big, world-building comic book, following in the footsteps of “All-Star Squadron” in 1981 or “JLA” from 1997. Like those comics, familiarity is the common ground for the foundation of the series, but the familiar is transformed to something markedly different in the hands of James Robinson. As the New 52 closes in on two full years of stories, much of the draw for this series has been the reinvention of Alan Scott, Jay Garrick and Al Pratt. Around those reinventions, Robinson has crafted some characters whole cloth, using just their trademark-registered name and constructing new from that point.
“Earth 2” #14 brings all of those characters together and throws in some new ones as Green Lantern, Flash and Doctor Fate storm into the nation of Dherain, determined to remove Steppenwolf from power and send him back to Apokolips. Robinson writes action and adventure, pushing all of the pieces to the middle of the board: the World Army, the “new” Wonders, Steppenwolf and his secret weapons, Amar Khan and the ace up his sleeve. There are a lot of pieces in this comic book and a lot of action, but Robinson still sneaks in character moments, like Flash sniping at Atom on the battlefield. Fifteen issues in, this story still feels fresh and the world is starting to come into focus, which all plays nicely to the talents of Robinson’s art team.
Some books can still be good or even great with special or guest artists, but some books are just so much more on target with its quintessential penciler on art chores. Like Rafael Albuquerque on “American Vampire,” Yanick Paquette on “Swamp Thing” or George Perez on anything with a lot of characters, “Earth 2” #14 ascends to the next level when regular penciler Nicola Scott handles the visuals for James Robinson’s story. Scott’s work is clean and polished and her storytelling is played to great strengths. Inker Trevor Scott keeps the lines fresh and clean, making the coloring from Pete Pantazis that much more dynamic. Topped off with Dezi Sienty’s cooperative lettering, “Earth 2” #14 might have been the most visually rewarding comic this week. Nicola Scott’s drawings on the opening page establish drama and suspense while showcasing Dherain’s Apokoliptan technology and her use of the double-page spread to announce the arrival of the World Army’s wonders is stunning and memorable.
“Earth 2” #14 is another installment in a collection of enjoyable world-building stories from Robinson and company. The fact that Robinson has been afforded a great deal of autonomy building “Earth 2” certainly helps distinguish this book from becoming “just another title.” The series has been a breath of fresh air in this year of cancellations across DC’s line and has made a very strong case to be one of the best books the company publishes.