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The title’s ongoing Apokolips invasion storyline takes a detour again in the form of another standalone spinoff in “Earth 2” #30 by Marguerite Bennett, Mike Johnson and a roster of artists including Andy Smith, Trevor Scott, Tyler Kirkman, Cliff Richards and Thony Silas. This second post-Tom Taylor issue focuses on the origin of Earth 2’s avatars, the chosen fighters of that world’s elemental Parliament. The issue is framed within the context of the invasion but reads more like a hastily-compiled fill-in issue, cramming in the glossed-over origins of several different characters at a time when it seems out-of-place at best and totally unnecessary at worst.

This issue kicks off with an impressive splash of the Parliament Enclave, albeit in a location clumsily described as “an extra-dimensional shield around Earth’s core.” From there, the art stays strong with nice layouts, polished linework and suitable colors by Pete Pantazis, but the scripting remains just as ungainly. The first sequence recaps Alan Scott and Sam Zhou’s special moment before disaster strikes, but Sam’s transformation into the avatar of the White comes across as way too contrived by being squeezed into the few pages it’s given. His goodbye to Alan is overly sentimental and is further marred by a logic inconsistency regarding his acceptance of his new role.

The next scene features the origin of Azathoth, avatar of the Blue. The scripting of this sequence flows a lot better than the previous one but the art team, evoking a Gil Kane/Walt Simonson amalgamated kind of abstract grandeur, delivers a completely different style that’s a sharp turn from the cleaner look of the previous pages. The artists are only credited collectively, not on a per-page basis, and the issue would have served up a better story to readers had these scenes been divided into definitive chapters so as least the stark artistic differences would have been expected and justified.

Yolanda and Alejandro, cousins who grew up more as siblings, follow Azathoth’s story. Yolanda is extremely protective of Alejandro, a point that is hammered home repeatedly throughout this one-dimensional but thankfully short storyline. The art here, though, is the worst of the issue, filled with stiff and awkward looking characters. One of these characters becomes the avatar of the Red and wraps up the issue, but at this point readers won’t really care.

Any one of these stories on their own could have made for a better issue-filling origin. The highlight of the entire issue is Ken Lashley and Tomeu Morey’s bold and dynamic cover showing these five new servants of the Parliament but, unfortunately, that’s as good as the issue gets.