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Location: Lancashire
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Subj: Earth-2 #7 Reviewed
Posted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 09:01:47 am EST (Viewed 526 times)

In the aftermath of the Grundy onslaught and the interruption of the 'zero' issue it's nice to take a breather and get back to exploring the characters and the setting of Earth 2.
Issue #7 is one of those great breather issues you get between storyarcs, where the characters debrief and deal with the fallout of their last adventure before being plunged into their next. What is becoming apparent about this book is that it is very much concerned with exploring the politics of a world which is still struggling from a major world war with an unfathomable enemy, a world that saw genocide on a massive scale and lost its greatest heroes in order to be saved from it. Writer James Robinson is distilling the best elements of the old Justice Society mythos and reinventing them to construct a brand new but reassuringly familiar world of heroes to mimic and counterpoint what we see in the Justice League. It's a take that isn't without inherent flaws but the moderninity of it all makes it fascinating to watch develop. For this issue and the next he is joined by guest artist Yildiray Cinar who has done very good work recently on Legion on Super-heroes and Firestorm, here Cinar delivers equally fine work and the clean lines are evocative of regular artist Nicola Scott. Very dynamic and a notable emphasis on facial close-ups throughout the issue.

So to the story itself... After being the focus of the last two issues and abruptly leaving the stage last issue It was a surprise to see Alan Scott opening up this issue with a surprise visit from Hawkgirl! She tracked him here using her detective skills to backtrack to his first appearance helping survivors of the train wreck - thus begging the question if she found it so easy surely the World council and interested authorities could do it as well?
Alan has trashed his apartment and explains about his problems expressing himself, he struggles to deal with his feelings over his partners death and this is how he let it out. While it's a welcome scene that sort of explains his lack of emotion in the last couple of issues it doesn't do that much to make Alan a believable compelling character, I don't dislike him but he does feel very forced as a character all the same. Jay Garrick is someone who is simple uncomplicated and honest, Hawkgirl is the sassy streetlevel character who has secrets, and Alan is cast as mr perfect superhero and alpha male with a bit of forced angst to flavor him. Unlike the other he rings false to me, too peter perfect...

Surprisingly as the two talk Hawkgirl removes her helmet and we get out first look of her, she reveals she was/is a tomb raider of sorts, it's a nice inversion of the Carter Hall/Archaologist origin and from her previous mentions of working for the World Army it's clear there was a job that went wrong with them... with the result that she's on the run. Conveniently Alan actually knows of her, courtesy of a documentary his television company did.
Naming herself as Kendra Saunders she is a remarkably faithful update of the old JSA's member, she reveals that her wings are natural and we get a touching idea of how these are as much a curse as a blessing as she can no longer do the normal things people do, no going to the cinema or out shopping thanks to these. But she's tracked down Alan determined he will join her and the Flash to form a group, the repeated statements that he just isn't interested joining anything do give an insight into the ego of the man, he's a thoroughly independent go-getter and Hawkgirl resorts to having to goad him to get her message across... I found it a little interesting to follow Kendra's mission to gather these new heroes as it brings into question what's in it for her?
There were hints in her first appearance that she's working for the new Doctor Fate, this would fit with her origin as a Tomb robber and that there is a huge but undefined threat coming to earth. Mercury warned Jay Garrick about it and I'm guessing this is what Kendra's mission is - to gather allies to face this imminent challenge.

So Hawkgirl is hunted by the World Army, why we don't know yet, meantime we catch up with Commander Amar Khan - head director of the World Army and in perpetual conflict with his superiors of the World council. Previously we saw that they had called in the fallen hero Terry Sloan to help advise on the Grundy emergency, Sloan's response was to launch nuclear missiles at the problem, much to Khan's horror. Sloan was responsible for the decimation of entire cities and countries during the War and one of them was Khan's home country. To say he dislikes Sloan would be an understatement.
But the Council tell Khan in no uncertain terms that despite his rash action to take out Grundy Terry Sloan is here to stay, disturbingly at least some of them share in Sloan's extremist mindset and he will join the more moderate Khan as head of the World army.

It's an extremely well played set of pages from James Robinson as having established Sloans motivation and history back in the 'Zero' issue he can use him now to great effect, bouncing him off the altruistic Khan but making pretty clear that despite Sloan's superior intellect and ability Khan is not going to be easy for him to get the measure of, a fact Sloan himself willingly admits to him. Like the readers Khan knows Sloan is dangerous and has an agenda, in preperation Khan has already begun marshalling his allies and secret operatives such as the Sandman whom he has already engaged to find Sloan's hidden bases. In Paris Wes Dodds and his fellow Sandmen break into one of these bases only to be attacked, they recognise him as Michael Holt as Khan's intelligence has found witnesses to his arrival back in issue #2 but the Sandmen are hard pressed to stop him as he has been brainwashed by Sloan and is used here as security. Luckily Wes has his Gas-gun handy!
Later debriefing with Khan we see that Dodds destroyed the base and inserted a deceased substitute to account for Holt's body - the destruction can't be tied to them and they have Holt in custody, hopefully he can be deprogrammed. It's a fitting endscene to a terrific issue, the evolving chessgame between Sloan and Khan is tense and points to the likely future of the yet to be formed Justice Society... inducted allies of Khan to both offset the growing power and influence of Terry Sloan and protect the world from future 'Grundy's.

Earth-2 #7 is a dense read, being essentially a political struggle between Khan, Sloan and the increasingly shady World Army & Council, it's very wordy. But it also follows a growing trend in comics, and especially team books, to make the team and its world accountable and fueled by the Government and security agencies. It arguably started with The Avengers and their alliance with SHIELD back in the Brian Bendis early years but today it has spread to encompass the Justice League and the X-Men. I'm unsure why this is such a popular trend, perhaps it's just the success of the Avengers and the film, but it does lead to a sameness in team books now. Where Earth-2 departs from this formula a little is that being post-war the environment is dramatically different, the world is bereft of its heroes and the fear of a return to conflict underpins everything. There's a quiet desperation.
In having the polar opposites of Amar Khan & Terry Sloan as the engine driving this political intrigue, this book read as a more compelling and plausible driving force than the team books around it and the growing power of Sloan means Khan now having to gather the allies and tools together to stop or slow his momentum. Fortunately for Khan Sloan has one one or two clear personaility flaws that limit his genius and ability to move longterm - because of his clear disconnection from basic human emotion he has trouble reading other people and understanding their complex motivations, everything is black & white to him. But on the other hand this makes him all the more destructive, as he doesn't care about people, he cares about only the perceived bigger picture.
Looking forward to seeing if this Khan led Justice Society is indeed where we're headed. \(yes\)

*You can listen to James Robinson himself (briefly) discuss the issue and other stuff on the Comicvine Podcast - lots of spoilers!

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