When a comic book company does a line-wide swap out of established characters and titles for villains and forcibly ties it into an event, such as Villains Month being tied in to the launch of “Forever Evil,” there are inevitably both good comics and some stinkers. “Earth 2 #15.1: Desaad” by writer Paul Levitz with art by Yildiray Cinar is definitely one of the latter.
Suspending previous impressions of Desaad from past incarnations in comic books or other media, this version of the character is a cross between a Dementor and a rabid Jawa by way of My Little Pony. The magenta hue of Desaad’s cloak is an odd choice for such a depraved character. Levitz makes it quite clear to the reader again and again that the sadistic Desaad gains satisfaction and power through the suffering of others. The more suffering, the more Desaad enjoys it. Levitz presents Desaad’s arrival and adjustment on “Earth 2,” tying into events in both that title and “Worlds’ Finest,” but never really does more than skim over things. My biggest question about this story comes right from the first panel: if he’s a New God of Apokolips, what does Desaad know of Lucifer? It’s an odd opening that “Earth 2” #15.1 never fully recovers from. Complicating matters and making this story seem even more aimless, a scene change is announced in caption boxes, but the preceding scene is the same as the one announced, unless “One Year Ago: Deep in the Congo” means something different than “The Congo: A Year Ago.” It comes across as a creative team bored with the assignment and filling space just to get things done.
The highlight of “Earth 2” #15.1 is the art, which contains one of the most bizarre, out-of-place cameos of a comic book creator I have ever seen. Jack Kirby (or someone intended to resemble the King) makes an appearance. He doesn’t really do anything except draw and adjust his lamp on his drawing board, but he’s here all the same. Cinar makes a nice tribute out of that, but the story betrays Cinar’s art, reducing Desaad’s appearance to “Looney Tunes” levels. Cinar is a fine choice of artist for work on “Earth 2,” as his style is crisper and realistically based, but the story doesn’t do much to play to those strengths. What results is a nice tribute, but it’s couched in a rambling, pointless story.
Throughout “Earth 2” #15.1, Desaad wrings his hands in perverted glee as he saps mortals of their emotions, but readers have absolutely no connection to any of those mortals presented here, nor does Levitz provide a reason to care about Desaad’s other deeds throughout this issue. It doesn’t add, it doesn’t detract, it just doesn’t do anything except make me miss James Robinson’s work on “Earth 2” all the more. Thankfully there is one more issue with his writing to cleanse my pallet of the hideous taste “Earth 2” #15.1 has delivered. While “good enough” might be acceptable for some of the products hitting shelves during “Villains Month,” this comic is far from good enough.