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Subj: Earth-2: World's End #16 - The Last Son...
Posted: Sun Jan 25, 2015 at 11:03:50 am EST (Viewed 1065 times)
Reply Subj: Okay. Earth-2: World's End #16. GIVE!
Posted: Thu Jan 22, 2015 at 04:28:04 am EST (Viewed 909 times)
I feel awkward talking about this book as I have not been able to get every single issue and as an exercise it is a scheduled one-yearlong assault on the very substance and foundations of what I liked about Earth-2 for its first year and a half.
Nontheless as a measure of its predictability and sense of mission issue #16 of this series continues in the exact same vein and formula as every previous issue of this weekly has so far - with its onslaught of non stop action, Suffering, bloodshed, Angst, out of step characterisation, plot twists, angst by the bucketload, Death, Rebirth, Mass destruction, angst, Death, suffering, more mass destruction, and... Angst. Then there is the Anguish, suffering, Loss, Sacrifice, running about, bloodshed, genocide and... Angst.
Sixteen issues in, and after the surprising return of Sam Zhou in elemental form we are served with the confusing story of the Elemental Avatar to the Red, an elemental of the earth The Red is a counterpart to the Earth-spirit which gave Alan Scott his powers and are now marshalling their combined forces in an effort to fight off the overwhelming power of Apokolips. With the Earth crumbling by the second from the New Gods approach the situation facing its beleaguered populace and protectors looks increasingly untenable. With the failure of the misson to Apokolips by Mr Miracle and Co, the sad death of Amar Khan, and the revelation of Terry Sloan's treachery, the last ditch hope of gaining any traction or advantage in the war against Darkseid has all but faded. All that is left is survival. And desperately radical escape proposals.
With its long list of creators Worlds End is always going to be a slightly uneven affair, as the striking Andy Kubert cover suggests Kal-el sacrifices himself to stop the murderous technology and flesh-pits of Desaad from churning out endless Parademon hordes and imprisoning The Red avatar, thereby earning his beloved adoptd home and family a glimmer of relief and hope from the relentless assault of Apokolips. Lois Lane's peculiar condition as an Android lends the story no favors as it is her lack of visible visceral emotion to her husbands passing which encapsulates the air of desensitization which the reader by now must feel with this inherantly nihilistic series. Each issue is specifically patterned after the last, for maximum destructive spectacle and to wring out the emotional limits of its focal characters.
Kal-el is dead. And as Power Girl and Val Zod take leave of the carnage they choose one of the few remaining unspoilt and remote corners of the globe to bury their kin in. While beautiful as a resting place It seems an appalling lack of consideration that Martha Kent is not for a moment a mentioned in all of this somber ritual. One would expect Lois at least to insist on contacting her mother-in-law. Perhaps bury Clark next to his father. But no, Lois' concern is instead to bequeath the recovered s-shield of her husband as an offering to Kara, one she proudly accepts and wears in his memory.
In one sense then this is an insensitively constructed scene, but in a more positive light the passing of one era to the next by Lois and Clark is a physical thing as well as symbolic handover. Val-Zod and Kara are the next generation and rightful successors to the Superman legend. Theirs is the future.
Generations as with the Geoff Johns JSA is very much what oils the wheels of Earth-2, as Superman gives way to Val Zod and his cousin Power Girl the elderly Thomas Wayne frets over the fate of granddaughter Helene Wayne, elsewhere the teenage Jimmy Olsen has come into possession of the power and wisdom of The Source, his influence over events steadily becoming pivotal. He has detected the existence of a further hidden ship out in space, the base of Terry Sloan and capable of holding a hundred thousand refugees. And with this development the direction of Earth-2 seems more and more pessimistic in its outlook - all of the signs indicate that this earth will not survive the demands of both Apokolips and, more critically, DC editorial with its insatiable demands for profit and exhaustive exploitation.
But criticism of this series is easy. It is what it is, an exploitation exercise which will eave the Earth-2 world exhausted and virtually spent. In the short term however the pacing is fast, the situation undeniably gripping but grim, and the art despite its unevenness is of a generally proffessional and high standard.
This is the equivalent of a summer blockbuster movie, The Transformers of the comics world, and if you stop fretting about what it is doing, and where it ultimately leaves Earth-2, it is quite enjoyable for what it is.
The novel and admirable pacifism of Val Zod in earlier issues has now given way to someone much more proactive, as Val confronts the formidable Fury calling herself Death the newly adopted methods of the man are very apparent. As with his confrontation with the cloned Superman previously it is not force which Val relies on, his weapon rather is his rationalism and a more passive approach. As he assesses his bloodthirsty foe his is not the role of brute, but of mediator. Deducing Death is of Tamaranean origin and shares a similar power as his own it is this he chooses to exploit. The approach is an appealing one, a thinker and a mediator Zod's unspoken adoption by Lois Lane is an entirely appropriate one, as both share much the same outlook on life and the keen compassion to always seek the least violent solution to a problem. The two make for a fine antidote and moral balance to the carnage unfolding around them...
Clark Kent is dead. Irrefutably dead this time. Is there some sadness from the reader at this development?
The question, again, is one which cuts to the heart of the Worlds End series. When carnage and physical abuse is the fuel powering the series along how can the reader feel a sense of loss at a character passing? The dillema is not helped by the rality that Superman was created to die. As with Wonder Woman his role was as sacrifical instigator to trigger the end of the first war against Apokolips and inspire the successive generation of heroes, Kal-el was less a three-dimensional character and more of a prop. A thing to move the story on. So what empathy the reader does feel comes, in theory, from the effect his sacrifice has on his closest family, on Lois and Kara. In practise the effect intended is blunted, Lois as an android shows little apparent distress at her husbands passing, Kara therefore has to be the one to carry the weight of the scenes and fulfill the role of mourner. But is it fair to hold this display of Angst and the voyeuristic curiosity of the reader at her loss of family as proof that the series is pure exploitation? If this were so why would the writers then balance the pain Kara feels by returning best friend and "Sister" Helena Wayne to her?
Inexplicable as the development is the timing of Helena's reversion from her grotesque conversion into a horrific Fury of Apokolips is what the story this issue needed, Light to balance the Darkness.
And as the series marches on, barely even a third of the way through yet, one wonders just how much of this formula the readership will be able to tolerate...
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