Earth 2 #4

"Earth 2" #4 brings the various and sundry elements of this series together to Washington D.C. for a dynamic, explosive confrontation set to forever alter the landscape of the war-torn planet. The newly introduced Grundy causes Hulk-size damage and destruction as Earth 2's heroes come together to combat the villain.

Creating an ecological crisis to compound the physical damage he renders, Grundy claims to be the Knight of the Gray on a mission to destroy the champion of the Green. Given that he commands twisted plant life and is about as hygienic as a typical zombie, Grundy appears to be a threat unlike any readers have seen in the relaunched DC Universe. James Robinson raises the bar with Grundy and brings four metahumans into the battle: Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkgirl and Atom. Although readers have gotten a chance to know Flash and Green Lantern in previous issues, Hawkgirl remains shrouded in mystery -- not so for the Atom, who drops onto the scene, solving one crisis and stirring the pot on another.

Everything starts to come together except for the four would-be heroes who were the backbone of a Justice Society. Of the four, Green Lantern is brash and headstrong, Flash is cautious but eager, Hawkgirl is the most strategically inclined of the quartet and Atom is simply following orders.

The lack of cohesion between the characters is evident, as Hawkgirl appears to have the strategy figured out by attacking Grundy directly. However, once Green Lantern appears, Hawkgirl ditches her attack rather than press her advantage and chooses to address the symptoms rather than the cause of the calamity -- an odd choice by Robinson, who puts forth the effort to build Hawkgirl up as a strong, intelligent character throughout this issue. However, it did allow Alan Scott a chance to shine in the spotlight and battle a foe sharing the namesake of one of his oldest enemies.

The artwork, while dynamic and clean, isn't quite as detailed as any of the previous issues that featured Nicola Scott's pencils exclusively. Typically, Scott's figures are grafted into the world they inhabit while most of the characters in this issue are simply living in that world, passing through it fluidly and believably, but not carved from it. Scott's partner on the pencil work for this issue, Eduardo Pansica, is a nice match stylistically offering consistency and continuity throughout "Earth 2" #4 without a distinct indicator of where Scott's work stops and Pansica's begins.

"Earth 2" #4 isn't the smoothest issue of the series with some abrupt character decisions and transitions, but it does pack a punch, delivering almost non-stop action and exuding excitement. Now that Robinson has had the opportunity to rough out the landscape, introduce the players and establish some relationships, I'm looking forward to seeing how he enhances those relationships, fits in additional characters and transforms the landscape. The cliffhanger he drops shows that the story of "Earth 2" is layered and dynamic. Even though this issue is slightly off, it's still an exciting, enjoyable installment that I will be going back to re-read in the near future.

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