Tom Taylor emigrates to another world to deliver the return of Superman and Lois Lane in “Earth 2” #17, with art from Nicola Scott. Following the revelations of the previous issue, Superman is back, but he’s not so super and the World Army is suffering for it.
Taylor’s first issue feels less like a continuation of James Robinson’s ideas and more like a tie-in or the frequently hoped-for spinoff series. In a time when comic book companies are quick to renumber their titles and refresh brands with infinitely repeating #1, “Earth 2” #17 feels more like “Earth 2: Season 2” #1. Taylor jumps right in to the action, continuing to document Superman’s assault on the planet while recording the effects on the superhuman “wonders” of the world as they assemble and attempt to determine their one-time inspiration. Taylor transmits the desperation these characters are feeling and begins setting up subplots for the world following the events of this issue.
No doubt there are some clues being shared in Khalid’s babble as he shouts, “Crumbles!” at his allies when they remove the helmet of Doctor Fate from his noggin following a brutal thrashing from the Man of Steel. In his first issue, Taylor brings the Earth 2 version of Batman out of the shadows, takes Red Tornado online and scripts a battle between Doctor Fate and Superman. The action and plots are not unlike Taylor’s digital-first “Injustice: Gods Among Us,” but they’re different enough to serve as a continuation of the world-building foundation set by Robinson and continuing artist Nicola Scott. As Robinson did before him, Taylor brushes off a few names and even adds Bob Crane to the cast, a contribution longtime DC readers are certain to appreciate, especially in the context Taylor introduces him.
With Superman rending human beings in half (not unlike Black Adam did to Terra-Man in “52”) the artwork in “Earth 2” #17 takes a decidedly darker turn. Trevor Scott’s inks weigh heavily on Nicola Scott’s pencils and through creeping, crosshatched appendages threatens to spread more thoroughly throughout the issue. Pete Pantazis’ colors are also deeper and more shadowy. Rarely do any figures appear completely illuminated so all their full-color glory can be fully appreciated by readers. The collection of body types, expressions and personalities is tremendous. Scott keeps all of the characters wonderfully distinct, even throughout the carefully constructed battle choreography. Despite the misspelling of Commander Khan’s first name, the identifier tags from letter artist Dezi Sienty are a nice touch throughout the story, helping readers to determine who they are reading adventures of, without covering up too much of the story landscape.
As she did with a number of the characters in this title, Scott is able to create a new design for Tornado. The new Tornado is a female, evident through her anatomy, although for the life of me, I can’t explain how breasts on an android are any more relevant than a radio on a motorcycle. That said, the design is elegant and sleek, a visual tribute to past versions of the character while distinctly becoming something altogether new.
“Earth 2” #17 is still a strong title, despite the changing of guard in the writer’s chair. Nicola Scott remaining on the book is a great decision, especially with so much tumult present in the story. The duo do not disappoint in their first effort on this title, giving us plenty to look forward to with an ever-expanding cast of characters filling the pages.