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Subj: Worlds End #1 - The World in Chaos.
Posted: Wed Oct 15, 2014 at 05:23:34 pm EDT (Viewed 952 times)
With a creative team almost the size of a Football team DC Comics' latest addition to weekly publishing, following from the interminable Future's End, wisely targets the rich and fertile ground of the, till-now, pleasingly isolated Earth-2 universe for material and sustenance. And running for a projected full year this is a series that will need all the material Earth-2 can provide it with to sustain such an ambitious length.
Exploitation on this level is surely bound to detract from the main Earth-2 series' quality, but that this business decision makes good commercial sense is likely true in the short term. What is much more arguable is whether the series will actually live up to the high standard set by James Robinson and Tom Taylor and their artists up to this point or instead merely dilute the strength of the Earth-2 name. Based on the debut opener for World's End this is a question which looks worryingly negative in its outcome... As a story, World's End #1 is anything but original. Consisting chiefly of a 'The-Story-So-Far' content it skims us breezily through the highlights of the last two years worth of events - that it appears to contradict some of the established facts and timeline for the Apokolips war will irritate the regular readers, while the sheer monotony of the "And then this happened.." approach to the first thirty pages will likely bore or bemuse more casual readers sampling the issue.
Yet what it tells us about the DC/Marvel approach to superhero comics in the 21st century is never less than fascinating to ponder. Today's taken-for-granted assumptions about what makes for a superior superhero book have rarely been as obviously played out. In short, Daniel H. Wilson and his fellow writers opt to eschew any attempt at an original storyline to drive the series and instead mine the already established material in order to provide the fuel for this venture. Everything in this issue you have seen done in the regular Earth-2 title, right down to the finale with four agents of Apokolips appearing from nowhere.
Digesting the release of Issue #1 is much like absorbing a meal of custard and mash. With so many cooks involved the look and the tone shift every few pages, there is little in the way of cohesiveness, and the fact this is a rush job patched together at short notice is evident to see - why is Alan Scott used as a narrator to events he cannot possibly have had any knowledge about? What is the owner and chief of a multimedia broadcasting company doing interested in, and financing, Spacewarp technology under his own company's name and premises, with no less than Terry Sloan as his guide?!
While predominantly a 'story so far' introduction one positive aspect of this debut issue is the light sprinkling of new information and reveals to underpin the flashback pages, we learn of Sam Zhou's hithto unguessed connection to Sloan, and while it is a clever twist which fits know facts the resultant petty reaction of Sloan upon learning Sam leaked his work to Jimmy Olsen's network, and therefore the world-web, again betray the writers lack of intimacy with the original source material.
As so memorably conceived by James Robinson Terry Sloan was one of the lesser known heroes arising in the wake of Superman etc and was an important player in the heaviest fighting of the War. This is highly gifted man who's driving interest is in protecting his world, primarily from the forces of Apokolips, and to do this he will go to almost any lengths to secure the safety of this world. Even if he has to kill millions of lobotomised prisoners to ensure a safe future comes to pass. By comparison killing one man for a suspected leak of information is beneath his intellect and pedigree, killing a train full of passengers in the bargain is even harder to reconcile with someone who considers himself a hero and a man tasked with the hardest of decisions. There appears to have been a mistaken assumption made in the plotting stages that Sloan is identical to Lex Luthor but this simply is not the case. Terry Sloan is a more complex figure than that.
Jimmy Olsen's role in the clandestine online world of hacking and public domain earns him the attention of Batman, and in a scene uncomfortably out of sych with the Batman we are familiar with Earth-2's Dark Knight crashes through the front door of the teenagers apartment and gasses him unconscious! The sheer brazenness and lack of sympathy shown by this Batman for something which is surely more a matter for conventional authorities is extraordinary as it is disconcerting. Is this Bruce Wayne a reactionary figure responding to national security concerns? Is he acting from incomplete information from a third party source? Or perhaps is Earth-2 so different than our own that the Cold War never ended...?
Whatever the Batman's rationale his lack of any hesitation in essentially kidnapping young Olsen and immediately placing him in stasis beneath Arkham Bunker surely breaks a host of basic human right laws as we understand them. As this all occurs before the Apokolips War whether this uncompromising front is a measure of Earth-2's differing social expectations or another poorly thought out scene from the writers in uncertain, but taken as-is the gulf between Bruce and Thomas Wayne is not so great as we had been told. There is a touch of irony in unrelated scenes as we meet the Dick Grayson of Earth-2, married to Barbara Gordon he is a Journalist caught in the streetlevel day-to-day struggle for survival in the wake of the recent attempted takeover by the mad Superman and his associates, the glimpses of how normal people are being affected by the hardships of War hint at a more crusading role for Grayson, but not one of costumes and late nights, rather that of social justice champion and concerned citizen. Could Grayson be about to take charge of those around him and find a new career path in politics perhaps? Certainly there is irony in his role here. The chaos left behind by the Evil-Superman and his rampage is something of a subplot in the book, but as new visitors from Apokolips arrive the cycle of War and daily Survival have come to define the identity of Earth-2. The shame is the books potential is capable of so much more than this futile repetition.
Is Kal-L still alive? The narration makes dangles the possibility, but in the same breath appears to flaunt none other than Steppenwolf as Fury's mysterious father... on the same beat is the suggestion that Terry Sloan had been cutting secret deals with Steppenwolf prior to the original War, is this then linked to Fury's abduction from mother Wonder Woman and her fate as soldier of Apokolips?
These and the many dangling plots left over from James Robinson's run should be able to fuel a fifty-Two week series, the question though is with such an impossible schedule and many differing contributors can any consistent quality be expected to spring forth from this venture?
Based on this issue the signs are not particularly promising. The structure of the issue is a jumble of isolated moments and panels which are concerned purely with dumping information regular readers will already know and in the process the delivery of the issue is a mostly emotionless affair, consisting of a list of 'moments' and loose ends to be addressed this is a book feeding of what is rather than looking forward and striving for a new strand for the Earth-2 mythology.
With a touching reunion between Power Girl and "Momma" Lois Lane, a fractious meeting between Thomas Wayne and Grandaughter, there are at least these two beats to look forward to being explored, the shame is that as an overall entity World's End appears to be just one more in a now steady line of cobbled together cash grabs from DC Comics. There is nothing here we couldn't have seen in Earth-2 and Worlds' Finest... and certainly nothing fresh by which to move the concept of EARTH-2 onwards.
With Kara being followed by Val Zod Lois' role in the book as Mother Hen and mentor is an unusual and welcome one.
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