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Subj: World's End #12 - Time Running Out...
Posted: Sat Dec 27, 2014 at 03:05:46 pm EST (Viewed 1538 times)
In a world of fading hope the varied response of those still left able to mitigate the onslaught of the New Gods is what concerns this latest installment of the appropriately titled Earth-2 Worlds End.
What began as an exercise in exploiting and prolonging the interminable Earth-2/Apokolips war, purely in order to sell this years long weekly storyline, has developed into a serial that has quietly surprised with its pacing and sense of mission. Writers Daniel Wilson and Marguerite Bennett work seamlessly to plot an engaging, if flawed, struggle against overwhelming alien forces and dwindling prospects. And while these characters they use are frequently misunderstood, or outright rewritten, their place in the overall plot is well presented and serves to move the events progessively forward. As the earths moon is annihilated by the arrival of Apokolips Earths long suffering is instantly moved from grave to terminal status, the mission to Apokolips by Mr Terrific and a hand-picked team has ended in failure while on earth World Army leader Major Sato contemplates a long anticipated Doomsday scenario. Earth-2 is on its knees, and doesn't appear to have any prayer of lasting more than a few hours more.
With an incredible credits list that names TEN artists involved in its interior production Worlds End #12 still manages to boast impressive layouts. The use of a full figure Darkseid watching over proceedings in his court followed by an all but identical shot of Big Barda watching over proceedings and making her report is a very effective use of the pages in question, that the notion of Apoklips being a cannibal planet doesnt quite make sense is one that we will have to wait to see if it is addressed - if Darkseid's warworld came with such a basic and fundamental weakness surely then New Genesis and Highfather would have exploited this flaw long before now? Indeed if Apokolips is here in normal space where then are these watching New Gods of Highfathers? Is the current Green Lantern/Godhead event the flipside to this Worlds End series perhaps?
As earth crumbles before the prescence of Apokolips sudden arrival in its orbit deep below earths surface Power Girl's attempts to save best friend The Huntress from conversion by Desaad have failed. The fall and desecration of the independent and strong willed Helena Wayne is an effective fate inflicted by the writers, in order to underline the corruptive element to Apokolips' encroachment the strongest among the heroes of Earth-2 are sacrificed, a means to measure the irresistable power of the New Gods prescence. Even though Kal-el has been found alive elsewhere in the firepit complex he too has been left scarred and wounded by his ordeal, once earths greatest hero he is now just a faint shadow of the man he was. The weight of Apokolips and Darkseid crush all.
On the surface of Apokolips Fury and Mister Miracle join with Terrific and Sandman, not only is their mission to stop the planets progress a complete failure but Miracle was steered into waking Darkseid himself. Thus the pressure on earths chances builds and hope fades that bit further.
At this point the temptation by the writers might be to keep accentuating the sheer miserable hopelessness of it all, but whether it be Danial Wilson or Marguerite Bennett's influence this is a narrative still sprinkled with moments of welcome humanity, the situation is grim and getting grimmer, but amidst the failure of their mission it is the formerly mrciless Fury who is the one to reassure and console Mister Miracle as he teeters on the edge of despair. Both of these two are victims of their fathers abuse of their trust, but while one would expect it to be Fury who embodies bitterness and hate the onus is instead on the self absorbed Mr Miracle. In a clear expression of her mothers compassion and wisdom Fury is the one to balance Miracle's faltering faith in himself and others, and in turn that balance affects Fury's direction too. Both pledge to carry on the fight, and to support the other with their strength as well. The tenderness is a diametric contrast to the rage of the now alone Dick Grayson back on earth... his family gone and only vengeance left to direct him his is the weakest element of Worlds End. A character with no purpose in the overall narrative and far too close to becoming a xerox of his Earth-1 counterpart.
Worlds End #12 as it unfolds has a great deal about it to praise for. The plotting is increasingly confident, the art is robust, the fate of the earth is genuinely unguessable, and finally Amar Khan's longrunning feud with the manipulative Terry Sloan reaches its break-point.
Carefully set up by James Robinson the antagonism and game of chess between these two powerful figures was one of the numerous highlights of Earth-2 under Robinson's able guidance. Commander Khan of the World Army was forced into accepting Terry Sloan as his opposite number by the World Council, whether it was the Council who independently decided on this or whether it was Sloan himself who manipulated the events was never clear, but the principled Khan's tolerance of this arrangment was never an open-ended arrangment. As he himself admits to Wes Dodds in this game - "...there will be no Fair Play." An irony indeed.
Aboard Sloan's cloaked ship on Apoklips he and Khan wait for Mr Terrific and Fury, and Sloan's behaviour draws the attention of the ever alert Khan. Although supposedly hidden from view Khan's suspicion on Sloan's agenda, and the nature of his ship, serve him well, as while Sloan was away supposedly checking the exterior Khan has found the explosives rigged to detonate onboard, and Sloan stands at long last revealed. As a scene this is a long anticipated one, and suitably satisfying, and yet the logic if thought on is slightly absurd in the unfolding. Sloan dissapeared outside to check the exterior, we know he was actually visiting Darkseid in his antechamber, but could he really get away from the ship without anyone noticing? Why should Darkseid remotely entertain this Mortal? Why has the super-intelligent Sloan, seen dismissing Michel Holt in suitablty hi-tech style with airborne nanites, resorted to rigging something as embarrasingly amateurish crude as sticks of dynamite and timer beneath an easily detected panel? Why destroy his own space/dimension travelling ship to get rid of Khan and the others in this way, particularly when he has Darkseid and his forces at immediate hand to take care of the deed?
From beginning to end It is an absolute nonsense of a scene. But nontheless Khan's final day of reckoning with the hated Terry Sloan is a long time in coming, James Robinson would have been more intelligent in its execution, but this execution crude as it is suffices.
On earth and in the relative calmness of Amazonia Sato calmly considers the scenes of devastation and Apocalypse on the viewer screens before her, earths end unfolding. The view and narration are genuinely affecting in their sadness and resignation, Major Sato is left alone out of the World Army command structure to man the last post and observe earth's final hours, Billions have died and billions more await. The squad sent to Apokolips have failed and may be dead, the Batman and Val-Zod are unnacounted for. The burden placed on Sato's relatively young shoulders is an impossible one, but one last escape route for the remainder of earth's diminishing population may yet be possible... the sequence is a haunting one, Sato alone in the darkening halls of the long dead Amazonia faced with witnessing the fate of the earth. And above the skies of Russia The Green Lantern and other Avatars of the earth meet the Furies of Apokolips in final battle...
World's End #12. Flawed yes, but undeniably entertaining nontheless.
What impresses is the slow inevitability of the New Gods subjugation of the Earth, the sense that however valiantly the heroes of Earth-2 fight the battle was over before it had actually even begun - these are mere mortals facing the might of full-on Gods, immensely destructive Gods at that. And for every one of these demi-gods they somehow manage to defeat another three take their place on the battlefield. The odds are truly overpowering, and Earth's fate appears to be have an inevitability about it... but what then for the future of this book?
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