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Earth 2 is a failure. That’s about the only purely honest way that I can start this, well, analysis of how much DC Comics have done wrong when handling this series. Earth 2 went from one of the most promising series when it first launched to a mess of incredibly perplexing proportions. It’s not just some factors here or there but the series now, as a whole, seems destined to go down in history as awful.
To really address this we have to dispel the main myth about Earth 2. This myth being that it wasn’t a Justice Society of America book. The myth that just because it wasn’t called JSA meant it wasn’t about the JSA. That is a lot of grade-A baloney. Check out everything, really everything, that series starter James Robinson ever said in connection with the series and all goes back to the Justice Society.
I don’t want to get ahead of myself but Robinson never said anything about when we’d get Lobo, Jimmy Olsen, or “Aquawoman”. No it was all about which Starman would be introduced, or when we’d get Dr. Mid-Nite or even Sandy Hawkins. So the claims that it was never a JSA book or that it was meant to have the whole DCU as a focus are among the most insipid ideas that one could hold regarding this book.
“Golden Age with Modern Characteristics”, that is something that Robinson said early on, and was one of the tenants upon which Earth 2 was founded. For a while, it worked. For a while it seemed that the horrible mess the JSA had undergone right before the reboot had merely been a bump in the road. Of course, Robinson was a golden age fanboy and Earth 2 being all new and young afforded a new road.
A road where characters like Jay Garrick or Alan Scott, old fogeys to many, could be in their primes once again. That they could once again be the main heroes and not just neat little second stringers who had “old” as their gimmick in a reboot where being old held no more weight. Sure there were changes that Robinson made, but each could easily be traced back to the JSA mythos. Something combined.
Al Pratt, the Atom, was now imbued with characteristics of Atom Smasher and Damage. Kendra Saunders, Hawkgirl, a mish-mash of more recent Hawkgirls with an emphasis on the Egyptian backstory. And the cherry on top was how Robinson was able to incorporate the theme of legacy. No longer were these now the forbearers, but rather the successors. They would continue where the main Trinity left off.
It’s an elegant scheme that Robinson cooked up and much of these changes felt as though they could stand the test of time. Even though he had a kudzu-style plot going on, with many tangents at once, he was still building up the JSA roster of heroes or villains. Gambler, Fiddler, and the cult favorite Brainwave Jr. soon followed. The genius in all of this lay in how it was set up, on a global scale.
The JSA, as Robinson so often stated, would no longer be the “of America”, but an international group. Sandman was Canadian, the new Dr. Fate was middle-eastern, and so on. It was a neat replay of the old WWII allied forces but brought back to the JSA in a round-about way. Yet, the bigwigs at DC Comics decided that this simply would not do. They saw Earth 2’s success and decided to meddle.
Robinson was offered a playpen and so when they gave Tom Taylor, of middling talent, a new Earth 2 spin-off he walked. He had been burned before on the awful Cry For Justice. What did DC’s new toy Tom do? He decided to throw away everything Robinson had set up in terms of tone and overall goals in favor of one thing: His love for Superman. In the following issues he made no doubt about that.
Taylor introduced Lois Lane, as Red Tornado and casually retconning the previous appearance of Earth 2 Red Tornado, a completely annoying and disconnected Jimmy Olsen, and such luminaries as “Aquawoman”. Basically he began the trend that has pervaded the title throughout the past year. Earth 2 is no longer Earth 2. It is Ultimate DC. It is no longer about one thing but about anything.
And this “anything” includes Lobo, Dick Grayson, Barbara Gordon, Oliver Queen, and other such pointless additions. The old Justice Society crew? They’re now second stringers again, in a book that is undergoing the most incredibly dull plot imaginable in the new Earth 2: World’s End weekly. Written incompetently by Dan Wilson and Marguerite Bennett who bring nothing to the table skill-wise.
Can the JSA still be saved though? Sure, there used to be decades when the Justice Society mythos were mishandled. The team weathered through them into the hands of Geoff Johns and James Robinson in the past and hey can surely do it again. But for now we are left with a second rate, dull, Superman and increasingly tedious “war” storylines that signal that it’ll be quite a while before this is readable once more.
It’s a pity as well, they had their perfect chance and ruined it. Can anyone really say that this was better than the alternative? That this whole mess would have been better than giving some new blood to the old standards? Take Earth 2 Jimmy Olsen (please), as the old joke goes. He’s maybe the prime example of everything that’s gone wrong, but people buy it up. This one goes out to the JSA and their fans. Thoughts and comments would be appreciated below.