With fourteen creator names credited on the cover of “Earth2: World’s End” #1, DC Comics appears poised for a world record attempt or was massively time-crunched to get this book onto the shelves. From the story inside, it seems as though the latter is prevalent, especially given that the main content of this book is a rolling summary of the proceedings of over two years’ worth of action and adventure in “Earth 2.”
The misguided summary labels Al Pratt as “Captain Atom.” True, his rank in the World Army is Captain, but he operates as the Atom. The android Red Tornado is given eyelashes, Green Lantern disappears mid-scene, Doctor Fate is levitating upside-down, but his cape is flowing as though he were right-side up (this one is passable, because of the magical possibilities) and Batman recognizes his granddaughter, even though he may have never actually met her.
Unfortunately, it is the lack of truly new material (in addition to the uncreative reflection of stories already told in greater depth with more significant detail or more finely authored narration) that trips up “Earth 2: World’s End” #1 right out of the gate. While I cannot assign script or story credit or blame to Daniel H. Wilson, Marguerite Bennett or Mike Johnson specifically, no series should need twenty pages of recap, especially for a universe that has less than forty issues of adventures collectively. That, perhaps, is the greater fault than the navel-gazing the issue performs in front of readers hoping for further investigation of a world so carefully constructed by James Robinson and Nicola Scott (and to a lesser degree, Paul Levitz). This issue does not strive for potential, but rests on achievement.
“Earth 2: World’s End” #1 doesn’t give readers its all. The story is bland and so is the art. The art isn’t bad, per se, but with nine artists jammed into thirty-eight pages, there really should be some variety, diversity or energy. Everything here is humdrum and serviceable. Some of it is even nice, but nothing is grandiose or wonderful. Paolo Siqueira’s art — the scenes with Hawkgirl, Doctor Fate and Flash — is different enough to stand out, but not worthy or showcasing throughout the tale. The other artists’ styles are all similar enough that the rest of the issue just plods along with visuals that strive to be more visually rewarding.
The storytelling itself leaves quite a bit to be desired. In the wake of the most recent attack from Apokolips, the “Wonders” (who Bedlam refers to as “Supers,” a la Disney’s “The Incredibles”) stand at wits’ end, trying to determine their next, proper course of action. In this scene Superman (Val-Zod) pleads for Batman to realize people “here” need help only to have that “here” revealed to be a completely deserted area piled with rubble.
When Power Girl meets Red Tornado, it’s not Tornado’s recollections of Kara’s childhood that triggers the reaction from Superman’s cousin, but Tornado’s plea to Kara for the younger woman to not turn away that jars Power Girl into realizing who she is conversing with. Moments like this feel as though the panels got scrambled and the story simply doesn’t flow. It stops, pauses to be dramatic, and then frequently falls short. Outright narrating the first twenty pages of a comic book does tend to drain the flow of a story.
I know the point of a new series is that it should be new reader friendly, but the twenty pages of a slightly-hazy “what came before” won’t to make up for reading the story in its original form, an accomplishment that can be easily achieved in this day and age.
It’s nice that the writing crew is trying to connect all of the moments of the past together, or to fill in scenes from slightly before readers meet these characters, but none of the “new” pieces revealed in “Earth 2: World’s End” #1 feel necessary. “Earth 2” didn’t need additional Batman ties. In the space where we meet Dick and Barb Grayson, we could have easily been introduced to Ted Grant, Charles McNider or Ted Knight. Unspectacular and borderline superfluous given everything that has already been revealed in “Futures End,” “Earth 2: World’s End” #1 doesn’t offer readers enough to rush back for further issues.