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Subj: Earth-2:Society #3 - A Utopia or Dystopia?
Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2015 at 03:34:37 am EDT (Viewed 1319 times)
Grasping for something to say about Earth-2:Society three issues in and it is proving a struggle. Perhaps then if I were to read all three issues in one sitting? Yes. Well, No. I'm left Still struggling for something, anything, to say about this book....
In its most basic form 'Society' is a series that is built entirely on the dead past, a planet and society that was razed by an alien invasion with only a small fraction of survivors managing to escape its final destruction. So in its most basic form what we have with this book is the story of survivors and their efforts to go forward in life and rebuild a facsimile of their world, but a better place, a better society. Where the premise gets complicated (and overly alienating for any casual reader) is the fact that this world we are told about was a reflection of the main DC Universe and came with heroes using very recognisable names - Green Lantern, The Flash, Batman, and so on. So opening the very first issue by seeing crumbling arks arriving on a new world (we aren't told where this is other than it bizarrely has a binary sun system with one star being a red sun?!) we are also served an incredible hard to digest dump of expository information as to where it is they have come from and why they are here, followed by flashbacks between that landing and the state of play one year later - i.e today. All this weight for a first issue relaunch.
It is fair to say that 'Society' as a book has little concern with presenting the reader with a recognisable reality, with extraordinary artwork and layouts from Jorge Jiminez this is a book that looks like nothing you have seen from DC Comics since the 1990's, Jiminez' style being entirely of that era, with its dependency on huge panel layouts to fill the pagecount and extremely distorted perspective shots the resultant effect makes 'Society' a difficult book to engage with.
Eccentric artstyle is not necessarily the downfall of a book of course, Jae Lee uses a similarly distorted style for his recent Batman/Superman run with Greg Pak, the differential comes in the finished effect however, and for a book that previously established a convincing alternate world reality that could be easily slipped into Jorge Jiminez competes poorly with the memories of the superb Nicola Scott, and latterly Andy Smith, in redefining what another Earth might look like. And the result is anything but recognisable.
So visually, not good. Scriptwise however? Daniel H. Wilson was one of the writers of the Worlds End series which prematurely closed the fate of the previous Earth-2, and now here he deals with his own aftermath by having the survivors arrive on a namelss mystery planet with two suns but looking exactly like Earth. This world has a mystery at the center of it. But that can wait as Terry Sloan and Dick-Batman-Grayson become the focus of the story and the dystopian futuristic Blade Runner setting of New Gotham is the background their drama is played out in. Grayson was left crippled by his struggles to arrive here on New Earth and is now presumably dependent on the Batman suit he now dons, why and how a normal man can become 'Batman' in just one year is something we shall just have to accept, but in this aspect at least Jorge Jiminez delivers some memorable images as Batman clings to the dark and story buildings in pursuit of the fleeing Sloan.
Wilson's plot for the series sees the main cast reduced to peripheral players while Grayson and Sloan play cat and mouse, but Helena Wayne appears to have adopted a leaders role ahead of the like of Mr Terrific and Hawkgirl, while Green Lantern has lost his humanity to some strange influence of the planets lifeforce which charges him.
Lois, thankfully, remains the human aspect of the book. A human soul inhabiting an android body she is the readers true reference point in the series as she is the most real of the cast, the one with actual depth to her. And there in itself is another problem with the book as when looking at Lois and contrasting to the rest of the cast Daniel Wilson's scripting is found to be severely lacking. Why should there be this imbalance between Lois Lane's relatability and that of the longer serving cast? What happened to Jay Garrick's everyman persona? Where is the centralisation of the heroes, are they really still an unofficial coalition? Would Commander Sonia Sate ever, ever, choose to side with Terry Sloan after his litany of betrayals and genocide on the human race?! Surely not.
The combination of Jorge Jiminez' skewed perspectives, odd anatomy, and a cityscape that looks like it comes from the murky future, all combine to make this a purely fantasy setting rather than grounding it in a recognisable real world that the readership instinctively latch onto. James Robinson understood the key principles of selling an alternate world to the reader - grounding the fantastical in a broadly recognisable real world, three years later and the simple writer techniques and enormous success of Robinson's debut issues have been completely forgotten...
So where now for the Earth-2 concept? Does this overbloated format presented in Earth-2:Society have a future?
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