â€œAs usual, there is a great woman behind every idiot.â€ - John Lennon
eath, Life, and Rebirth. These three interlinking themes have defined the fundamental identity and flavour of Earth-2 since the very first issue, with it's unexpected massacre of one generation of the World's Greatest Heroes giving way to the rise of a bold new second generation we watched on as Alan Scott was reborn as The Green Lantern to battle the forces of decay and entropy in the guise of the undead Grundy. We watched as the dying God Mercury passed on his power to his new avatar - Jay Garrick. We saw the reincarnation of ancient Wizard Nabu as Doctor Fate, and in an unexpected twist the return of the deceased Superman. Cue then the death and subsequent resurrection of Green Lantern, and the long dead Lois Lane in the form of the android Red Tornado, a new Batman, and a potential new Superman in the form of Val-Zod. Earth-2 then is a world of wonders, of survivors and legends. Where the dead roam the earth.
And for all of its niggling plot-holes, and the 'New 52' & Injustice:Gods Among Us
trappings, Tom Taylor writes the most traditional and faithful superhero team book on the market right now. And I mean that in the most complimentary way - for all their surface gloss and modernism these heroes are from the same school as the classic superteams of yesteryear, free of cynicism and self-interest.
With this issue we see the latest instalment in the increasingly desperate war against the forces of Apokolips and their unstoppable footsoldier Superman. Believed dead for the last five years a raically different Superman has returned from seemingly out of nowhere now under the influence of Darkseid, he has ruthlessly unleashed his power on a helpless world in Darkseid's name. Earth is now a scarred and beaten victim in this second war against Apokolips and not even the nascent new wave of heroes are a match for this Evil-Superman and his armies of parademons. The future looks bleak, but the just forming new generation of heroes will never give up the fight.
Despite this plot now being six issues old and showing no signs of a conclusion Tom Taylor has maintained interest by introducing several distinctive new characters and offering some rather impressive character work, and with this issue he finally manages to give a hint at depth to the otherwise one-dimensional Superman as he is finally brought face to face with the voice and persona of his wife - Lois.
With the ever more impressive Nicola and Trevor Scott on art this issue offers an incredible visual tour de force. In terms of page layout and characters expression the duo bring this book to vibrant life. Whether it is the initial opening chapter and the momentary sorrow and shame on Superman's face, or the arrival of Green Lantern, this book owes a tremendous amount of its success to the quality and depth of Nicola Scott's finely judged composition and supported by the crisp work of colourist Peter Pantazis. It is a combination of talent that give Earth-2 it's own distinctive identity, quite unique to the other team books out there.
Lois Lane and Superman... two iconic figures, the royal couple of the comics world, and here resplendent as two reanimated corpses.
Quite what managed to turn a figure as moral as Superman into this distorted mockery has yet to be addressed, but The Red Tornado is housing a copy of Lois Lane's brainwaves saved by her father five years ago upon her death.
Lois died in what was probobly an early incursion by Apokolips agents, something mentioned in passing in the early James Robinson issues. Whether one should accept this is really Lois Lane or just an android programmed to think and react as she did is a difficult dilemma, she died, can a person be so easily reconstituted as this character concept is suggesting? Lois herself doesn't seem to have absorbed the nature of her new existence yet and neither has she fully realised just what
it is she is now - a dead woman's memories and personality uploaded to an advanced mannequin. It may be a psychological block which prevents her from lingering on the fact of her death, it may be her father edited the detail to make it a vague point to her, perhaps the fact is an android cannot fully articulate such complex emotional responses, but however likable and admirable this Red Tornado is there will always be a doubt as to whether she really can be considered as Lois Lane.
To some surprise though her presence and manner has an immediate and astonishing impact on the maniacal Superman, a memorable moment as it is the first time we see some hint of the old Superman's personality. Lois has developed as being the most perceptive of the new cast and no one knows this man like she does, the fact that Superman so readily accepts she is who she says she is strongly suggests that quite from being an animated extension of Darkseid's will this is still a living breathing Superman we are seeing, somewhere deep in his core he is aware of what he is doing, and that detail alone makes his actions all the more disturbing and repulsive. Because whatever occurs next and whatever choice he makes the damage is done. Not since Steppenwolf has there been a more inhuman and evil figure as this, his reputation as the iconic Superman is now forfeited and betrayed, and in an unexpected move his disgrace is compounded by him taking Lois on an unexpected and abrupt visit to the still alive Ma & Pa Kent...
But is all as it seems?
The daunting sense of the odds and danger against the heroes is a theme that is being set up very well, as Superman unexpectedly takes off with Lois her intervention has most likely saved the life of Kryptonian youth Val-Zod along with Hawkgirl. But with masses of Parademons then surrounding them their fate seems assured nontheless. Which is when Green Lantern steps in to save the day. Nicola Scott without a doubt has an attachment to Alan Scott, here as with last issue her rendering of what James Robinson originally described as the new 'Superman' is both grand and confident. Leadership material in fact. Scott was always the big man of the historical Justice Society, and whether it is Tom Taylor's intention or not this sequence and others underlines the growing impetus behind what will surely be the official banding of these heroes as the JSA - as with all the great superteams they will be forced to band together to face the threats no one hero alone could deal with, and here with an implacable enemy we are seeing that there is indeed strength in numbers. The world needs a Justice Society... and that Society is now imminent.