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Subj: Earth 2: Society #5 - Another Day...
Posted: Sun Oct 18, 2015 at 10:11:53 am EDT (Viewed 1277 times)
With five issues into this new series of... err? What? How shall we refer to the cast of this book? They aren't The Justice Society - they have never been dubbed that by DC Comics and three years into their existence still have not organised themselves into any official group. So what to refer to this cast of characters as...?
A recognisable identity is but one of the problems with Earth 2 these days, as a book and a concept the journey from James Robinson and Nicola Scott's impressive debut of the series three years ago already seems like a long distant thing that has passed, an example of a book that still boasted an average of 40'000 sales when much else had long since fallen away from DCs grand 2011 restart of their line, today the deterioration of the series sales is a reflection of the chaos and meandering direction the book has taken since Robinson's abrupt departure. Relaunched under the creative reign of Daniel H Wilson and Jorge Jiminez Earth 2:Society has seen the entire premise relocated not to another alternate earth, but to a whole other vacant planet that just looks like Earth... but lets not go to that topic just yet. Rather accept that as Issue #5 here opens we get a starter page with some wretched dialogue from The Flash that will bewilder and alienate any reader not religiously following the book and that Val-Zod's following statement about a Yellow Sun rising to recharge him will finish that process. In the span of three years we have gone from a very simple Alternate Earth concept to a format where this book is not such a simple proposition to explain and market anymore... it is alien.
Five issues, and the summation? Survivors from the original Earth-2 arrive on a planet (actually Telos' world from Convergence) that is uninhabited but identical to Earth in its geography. It orbits a Binary sun system of a Red and Yellow star and as we open the series one year has passed since arrival. Terry Sloan is being hunted by the heroes, but he is far more concerned by some mysterious agent who is also targeting him. Sloan is eventually assassinated and leaves the Batman and heroes with the question as to why and how... and that is it. That is about the strength of this series after five issues. As we open this issue it is The Flash who is the focus, a whining self-centered brat who despite his many experiences and the needs of others has no thought for anyone but himself. This characterisation is a world away from the naive but decent figure James Robinson introduced, but rewritten personalities and motivation is par for the course since Robinson and successor Tom Tyler left in mysterious circumstances.
Perhaps I should just get to the point - And say that this book is not very good.
I would not call it terrible by any stretch of the imagination, but the pacing is slow, the plotting thin, the art is generally appalling albeit with the occasional nice panel design, the team still hasn't congealed and organised as a unit despite the obvious need for organisation and leadership, Dick Grayson can become Batman despite having no training or real reason to, and for a setting we are on what is an alien planet with earthlike geography but now with rising small cities with names like "Neotropolis", "Midwest City", and "Erebus City". If this is DCs thinking on being audience friendly it says everything aabout the companys increasingly aimless direction. Earth-2 was the great success of their 2011 initiative, fresh and inventive, today it is nothing. It is about nothing.
As we folow the appalling shallowness of Jay Garrick in refusing to do a thing for anyone until his colleagues pressure him to it we learn that Jay has come to the attention of the figure who killed Terry Sloan, and it is none other than the god-powered Jimmy Olsen.
In one sense it is an interesting reveal, Jimmy's apparent megalomania and youthful ego is the reflection of Jay's shallow personality, and there is at least the nice moment when Jay likely realises this power-drunk out of control youth is what he has been headed for himself for. The tale then does have a moral at the end of it, but Daniel Wilson lacks the ability as a writer to make the moment obvious or resonant.
At least the sensible Hawkgirl makes an appearance and attempts to galvanise Jay, so many of these characters have received only superficial character work since their debuts they remain largely one-dimensional. Mr Terrific for example, seen and heard, but never given space. Wildcat Ted Grant... dead or alive? Who knows. Alan Scott? An automaton. The Huntress? Out there somewhere. And so it goes.
With what could charitably described as eccentric artwork Jorge Jiminez' work on the book so far has not helped it to settle. Skirting the lines between being Manga influenced and conventional US style layout his work can occasionally be rather interesting in its sense of design, but then we view the figurework and costume design for some characters and intrigue over his style is replaced by equal amounts of displeasure. Jiminez' style is certainly distinctive, but a team book with the scope and requirements of Earth-2 is not the place for it. This book was built by the crisp lines of Nicola Scott, and Jorge Jiminez is about as far from that successful style as it is possible to get in this medium. This, combined with poor character work, a lack of substance in the plotting, and an ever decreasing cast list.
Earth 2:Society, a shame. A great shame. But...
How did the Flash introduced to us by James Robinson come to this though? Granted the ongoing Earth-2 narrative has been through several writing hands in the last two years alone, but for what has traditionally been the Justice Society's most generous and sage member how has this nineteen year-old wasterel arisen to be seen as an acceptable and faithful holder of the Flash mantle? Why is it his colleagues continue to support such a petty, unreliable, selfish attitude? Perhaps looking for an answer to that question is meaningless given the apalling vandalism of Earth-2 in the last two years, of the setting and rich cast that James Robinson and Nicola Scott created in their first year on the title the survivors today can be counted on one hand... this series isn't about building something that will last, rather it has become something to exploit and fuel the wild whims of editorial mandates. And as we have seen by now recklessy so at that.
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