Recently, I read an article that described the human brain as a beach ball filled with bees; every bee is an idea that wants to move ahead in its own direction right now but, if all of them move at the same time, then none of them go anywhere, constricted by the limitations of the ball. That analogy could easily sum up “Earth 2: World’s End,” a book overloaded with ideas, plots and characters that all want to move forward by leaps but, due to page limitations, can only inch forward bit by tiny bit. With over 13 creators credited for this comic book, it’s weighed down by its numbers and the very definition of art-by-committee.
There’s so much happening in this book that it’s hard to have any type of real character moment. Alan Scott gets a panel to threaten Fury for attempting to take away the soul of his lover, and even that is only posturing. Given more room, this could have been the lynchpin of the entire issue, the emotional tent pole of personal sacrifice and its effect on the larger picture when there is a greater good to be served. This feels like the theme of the issue with even Dick Grayson succumbing to his own loss. None of these pivotal moments are given a chance to breathe because it is the end of the world, which makes some sense from a storytelling standpoint but feels unsatisfying as a reading experience. These are each great story ideas but, when they are all stuffed into 22 pages, none of them can really be addressed. In real time, the reader is probably privy to about 30 seconds of action in each space. There’s no room for connection or real forward progress at that rate.
Another issue with the mega plot here is that there’s no clear protagonist. This “Game of Thrones”-style storytelling that is bleeding across media is leaving a trail of stories with big plots and no connections. This hurt Mavel’s recent event “AXIS” in a similar manner. Who is the lead in these story beats? Who is the reader’s point of view character in the fight under the fire pits? Who is the lead in the opening scene? One would think it’s Alan Scott but the Parliament of Earth makes it sound like another character would fill that role.
The art teams have mixed results in displaying the action with so little room. Scott McDaniel provides breakdowns for the artists to finish and allows moments like Flash’s team in the underground tunnels time to shine. Other sections, like the aforementioned opening scene, hurt with chaotic page layouts and cramped action. The more characters in a plot point, the more cramped the art becomes, leaving little emotional impact to be gleaned from what is seen.
Overall, this comic suffers from the weight of its own ambition. This is a talented super team of creators who want to tell a cool story about the end of the world but, with so many directions in which the story wants to go, our beach ball is left sitting in one place, bouncing awkwardly and slightly in no real direction.