Writer Tom Taylor’s second issue continues to build upon the events originally laid out during James Robinson’s run on the title, focusing on the surprising development in the immediate wake of Steppenwolf’s decisive victory against The World Army and its superheroes. “Earth 2” #18 centers on the return of this world’s versions of Superman and Batman, although neither of these characters are exactly familiar to readers. The mystery behind this world’s finest is the strength of Taylor’s story, though, and the art team of Nicola Scott and Trevor Scott remain on the title, capturing both the brutality of this seemingly resurrected and now-evil Superman as well as the colder, driven nature of this Darker Knight.
The circumstances leading to the duo’s return also remains a mystery at this point, and even colorist Pete Pantazis plays a part in this enigma by way of the all-too-noticeable similarities between the two characters’ costumes. Taylor confidently moves forward with his story, deftly wielding the elements Robinson left behind. He explores the shell-shocked heroes’ reaction to their defeat amidst a ravaged world while also dropping a few clues about this new Batman and bringing this character closer to the core of the book’s storyline. He remains a little vague about the forces at work with Superman’s return, but excels at making it perfectly clear that he’s definitely a bad guy here. The Flash also gets the spotlight in this scene after making a very heroic but impulsive move. Unlike The Flash, the story itself moves rather slowly, but doesn’t really suffer for it because Taylor’s grasp of the characters, while maintaining the suspense behind them, makes this comic more than entertaining on that aspect alone.
Things slow down a little too much in scenes without The Big Two, though; the heroes remaining in the rubble of their command center do little more than stand around discussing a rescue of those trapped there without doing any actual rescuing. Thankfully the inaction is held to a couple of single-page sequences that don’t really have enough longevity to actively disrupt the rest of the story. These are largely forgotten anyway, after a surprising move by Batman near the end of the issue followed by the even bigger and far more ominous issue-ending cliffhanger.
Despite a couple of missteps, Taylor successfully moves Robinson’s story along and his direction of the book should placate readers who might have feared a downturn in the quality of the book after his departure. This is helped greatly by the art team staying put and continuing to deliver an attractive looking comic where the heroes appear decidedly heroic, and the villains, and heroes-turned-villains, decidedly villainous. “Earth 2” #18 is another strong issue in the series that satisfyingly examines a rapidly changing part of the DC Comics multiverse.