“Earth 2” #21 by Tom Taylor and Nicola Scott launches a new storyline titled “The Kryptonian” in which the former prisoner of the World Army is presumed to play a larger role. Or perhaps the title is referring to the Superman of Earth 2, who is on a tear against the world he once so fiercely protected.
As shown in the preview on Comic Book Resources, no punches are pulled and no heat vision-powered amputations are spared. This is, after all, a DC Universe comic that pits heroes and villains against one another in a life or death or dismemberment struggle, so some dismemberments are expected. Like a disappointing summer blockbuster, however, the best part of the story from “Earth 2” #21 is in the preview. Taylor name checks a vast amount of the characters that have been introduced in this title, but none of the heroes really seize their turn in the spotlight quite as much as the Atom does. Most of the wonders talk, generally leading to bickering, as the world around them continues to burn. Taylor does a bang-up job describing the violence and insanity Superman is capable of rendering, but leaves the characters rather flat throughout the issue. In no small part, that flatness is due to the writer’s attempt to cover the scope of the story, which is nothing short of vast.
Scott captures that vastness with great detail, drawing hundreds of faces and bodies clamoring for a spot on the Space Ark or filling the air with energy and debris in the fight between Superman and Atom. Certain artists make the most of their assignments, effectively shaping them to their talent and image, and such is Scott’s impact on “Earth 2” #21. She works in drama, humor and dozens of other emotions to an astonishingly wide range of characters, from Jimmy Olsen trying to see “into” a camera to Batman’s temper unchecked in Red Arrow’s direction. “Earth 2” is a much better book with Scott in the artist’s chair. While I am a big fan of Nicola Scott’s work, I cannot determine why Red Tornado has, or might even need, white teeth. A mouth is fine and the approximation of teeth, also fine, but to make the effort to draw the forms of the teeth just strikes me as an odd, and very distracting, design choice, not unlike giving that same android breasts. Perhaps it’s aesthetic or comforting for the character, but it is odd enough to be distracting.
Given that issue is “Part One,” there’s obviously some big stuff coming, but this issue doesn’t provide any hurry to that larger story. Taylor and Scott do a solid job touching all the bases in this issue, but none of those bases are covered in depth beyond the evil deeds of Superman. Maybe it’s reflective of the “Forever Evil” event and his approximation to Ultraman from that story, but evil Superman is wearing a little thin, especially in the shadow of Apokolips and set against the backdrop of so many other characters that have barely been given proper investigation. After all, “Earth 2” #21 only gives us a couple panels of Hawkgirl, a scowling visage of Aquawoman and minor dialog from Red Tornado. This is a decent enough introductory issue, but it is barely more than that. Quite simply, it’s just another issue of “Earth 2.”