I have been meaning to do a 'Story so far' and have not been able to find the free-time with christmas on the horizon and work commitments etc, So instead of an in-depth study here goes my notes so far and the the digest version: while I disagree with the thinking behind the series and the heavy price on the main Earth-2 title there has been a lot of interesting happenings and introductions in World's End:
*Our first issue opens with an extraordinary full page introductory showing a collection of Earths and planets from across the Multiverse. We can recognise the Cube-world of the Bizarro's, and what appears to be the living computer entity from DC-1 million - Solaris!
One wonders therefore if the world of All-Star Superman and the 1-Million Justice League exists somewhere in DCs official list of parallel earths...
*Elsewhere we see Terry Sloan in his lab spying across the earths to watch an unsuspecting Michael Holt. Set before the events of the first Apokolips war we learn, incredibly, that Alan Scott is Sloans primary benefactor. Quite what a media baron like Scott wants of the claimed ability to see and travel between earths which Sloan is peddling is not at all clear. But this scene with Sloan was first revealed back in the DC Universe sampler of 2012 where James Robinson revealed his initial discovery of Holt and how he had manipulated events to bring him over to Earth-2 as his slave and suborbinate. Thus far Sloan has had a distinct edge over Michael Holt and kept one step ahead of him at every turn, but the now recovered Mr Terrific is adapting to the speed of his ever changing situation fast, and soon a true testing of intellect and character will inevitably occur between the two.
*Did Steppenwolf direct Grundy's attack on earth back in the books debut issues? It certainly seems likely judging from his words, but then as events unfold we will learn Terry Sloan himself has unpleasant connections to the New God leading up to the War...
*Everything in the run-up to the War and the events in the first issue of Earth-2 is connected. Even Alan Scott's quickly despatched boyfriend has been revealed as being key to some of the events in that first issue - using Jimmy Olsen to supply Batman with the virus to shut down the transmission towers for one. Much to Terry Sloan's displeasure, and eventual wrath.
*Is Sloan actually from Earth-2? New God Bedlam appears to suggest otherwise, suggesting Sloan himself directed Apokolips forces here to save his own earth. So if the statement is a literal one could Sloan be from... Earth-Crime Syndicate perhaps??
This doesn't appear to tally with Sloan's attitude and motives under James Robinson, but then neither does the petty bombing of a train just to get back at Sam Zhou match the cool sophistication of Robinsons dispassionate Sloan.
By issue #5 we gain further indications of a hidden secret as we are shown his own "Shackleton Asault Craft", a dimensional vehicle which is capable of reaching the approaching world of Apokolips undetected. Sloan's advanced science is no secret in itself, but an actual ship such as this indicates there is indeed much much more to the man than even his arch-rival Commander Khan thought possible.
*We meet the new Earth-2 Robotman - Robert Crane! And... could that be Ted Knight working with him? And why an Owl in one of the lab rooms, is there a Doctor working nites perhaps...?
*Fury's Father is all but confirmed as being Steppenwolf. And this detail surprises even Wonder Woman herself...
*Fury appears to have been working for New Genesis all along...? This feels far too abrupt. But par for the norm in this series. What should have been a journey of discovery and redemption spread across months worth of Earth-2 is casually tossed across to the reader in mere panels worth of space. Dissapointing.
*In the refugee camps and lawless slums we finally meet Ted Grant - and it's not at all what we expect. Perhaps though this is Ted Grant snr however...
*A nice bit of detail is revealed about the hordes of Parademons so readily available to Bedlam and Co. We learn about the complexes hidden beneath the Firepits dotting eath surface and their bio-engineering facilities, in a nice pick up from a line in James Robinsons final issues set in Rio we learn that the Parademons are converted humans, plucked from the streets before Steppenwolf's gambit with Dherain as he rebuilt his forces and making sense of the similar scenes in Geoff Johns' initial Justice League arc where Parademons are seen carrying away humans to an unknown fate Apokolips being a planet geared to wage War clearly does so by making best use of its targets own resources.
*We are Introduced to loving couple Barbara Gordon and Dick Grayson - and a definite mistake I feel. Very close to their Earth-1 counterparts in appearance these two don't seem to have any comprehensible connection to the Earth-2 story, they just appear. The result of this disconnect is that they are far too distracting and superfluous, and with Earth-2 #29 this month dedicated to their misadventures the result feels too much like a cynical Batman hook to get readers from that franchise to come by and take a look... two completely unnecessary characters.
*Oliver Queen - Why is he so important? Commander Khan is urgently scouring the word for his explosives experience but unable to uncover this as yet unseen figure.
*In the pages of Worlds Finest we discover why and how Lois was able to be ressurected in the Red Tornado body, a literal gift of the Gods. This feeds into her confrontation with Darkseid's Furies who taunt her and are able to briefly posses her, all thanks to the fact she IS Lois Lane's Soul and memories transferred mystically to the Red Tornado body.
*A new incarnation of Obsidian is introduced. An african-american adorned with strange facepaint. And that is all we know about him.
*With the spirit of the Earth itself awakening Sam Zhou returns as an elemental... an unexpected choice to say the least. The Parliment of Earth is a familiar analogue of Swamp Thing mythology but the cavalier matter-of-fact way it is introduced and put across here is dissapointing. The return of Sam though does make for a twist on Green Lantern's ongoing mourning.
*Kal-L lives! Found deep below the Firepit the heroes are investigating the hidden complexes used as cloning bays and munitions factories. And somewhere close by Desaad lurks...
*Is the intention of this series the literal destruction of Earth-2? It seems a nonsense to suggest such a thing given the name and concept revolves around this alternate earth, but with Earth a battered husk, millions dead, and now the Moon shatterered to fragments by Apokolips arrival it seems near impossible to see a viable future for the planet.
Clearly some manner of reset will be required if the book is to survive, but what form might it take?
As a series it it obvious why James Robinson objected and eventually walked away from Earth-2, far far too much is demanded here in terms of plot, reveals, and creative input, and it all detracts from the regular title's quality in a very damaging way. The art, being from a tag-team of artists, is wildly uneven. Sometimes good, sometimes very poor. New character appear without any build-up: for instance Robotman, who has no backstory, elsewhere John Constantine warps in from Earth-1 without any explanation or proper introduction. Approaching earth from deep space the other-dimensional superplanet of Apokolips is reduced to an analogue of Mongul's Warworld, roaming the universe as a cannibal planet. Out of the blue Earth elementals are materialising with no given logic to the how and where... Doctor Fate babbles nonsense and is now Nabu? As trivia all of this is interesting, and perfectly readable I should add, but It all frequently reads like some great list of plot points rather than a linear story with three dimensional characters to invest in. This then is a book of plotpoints, not a character piece.
All in all I must stress the point that it IS readable, enjoyable even, but the thinking behind the series represents everything abhorrent about DC today - a pure profiteering and strip-mining of a successful series. Successful because it stands alone as one book, not two three or four. I will be interested to see how this impacts on sales and popularity going forward.
Might have to pick this up in trade form when it is done.