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“Tower of Fate” gets a stronger concluding issue in Earth 2 than its previous chapter thanks largely to the increased focus on the new Doctor Fate and bringing us one major step closer to seeing a possible Justice Society.
This issue is primarily a magical throwdown between Wotan and Doctor Fate over Boston. James Robinson and Nicola Scott throw us right into the action only to pull back after a few pages and explain how things escalated to that point. The battle proves to be a good opportunity for Robinson to better define what it is Doctor Fate is capable of, which is always a major obstacle for making sorcerer characters work. Brian Michael Bendis often addresses this to great effect by giving citations for the various spells being used. Robinson ties Doctor Fate’s magic to specific Egyptian deities, and that also works to give the magic more of a sense of structure so it’s not simply convenient handwaving.
Green Lantern and Flash get some play here as well as they run interference against the World Army during the battle. Flash, mercifully, has backed away from being the focus of this story arc, and his main beat in this issue is the sneaky way Robinson and Scott try to fix his costume. When his costume is magically repaired, the tail of his lightning bolt no longer trails all the way down his side and leg. I hear Robinson hated that, and who can blame him? Now, the bolt clips off where the red on his chest ends. It is technically an improvement, but it’s a bit like fixing something with duct tape. There are still major problems with this costume needing to be addressed. It’s good that the lightning bolt has been cut short, but the thing still looks like a awkward squiggle on his chest rather than a bolt of lightning. And there’s no hope for that costume until someone goes back to the drawing board on the ugly helmet.
Green Lantern seems to have gone through a bit of a character arc during this story as he comes more around to the idea of working with other heroes. It was obvious that this was the point of his team-up with Hawkgirl, but we really could’ve used more time with them in this story arc. I mean, the character development still works. It’s just that it would have been more satisfying to have seen more of that journey play out, especially since this story arc wasted some page time on Flash’s cliche heroics and the so-called WTF moment last issue.
Speaking of WTF, there’s no follow-up to Mr. Miracle and Big Barda’s quick debut from last month. There is a major development on the Steppenwolf front, but that really isn’t the same thing. This leads me to suspect even more than DC had Robinson debut Mr. Miracle and Big Barda earlier than he was ready to so it could fall in line with the gimmick month.
And speaking of follow-up, when are we going to see more of Mr. Terrific? It’s almost funny how becoming one of the original stars of the New 52 was the worst thing that could’ve happened to Michael Holt. His solo book was awful on almost every level. He lost all his status in the DC Universe that he had before the revamp. Now, he has a very limited, and unsatisfying, role in the ensemble cast of Earth 2. I hope Robinson has some good plans for this character coming soon.
Is a New 52 version of Crimson Avenger coming soon? The seed is certainly planted in this issue, but who knows if it’s just an easter egg for the time being or something imminent. It does appear that Earth 2 is presenting us with a merger of Lee Travis and Jill Carlyle, though. That could be pretty cool. I always like the Carlyle version with the cursed guns.
“Tower of Fate” had its problems, but it gives us a good conclusion and a strong new take on Doctor Fate here. The Green Lantern side plot could have been better developed. Still, it pays off well enough and sets us up with a greater conflict coming next. Now that Doctor Fate has been introduced and Flash got his little hero moment, I’m looking forward to hopefully seeing other characters get the Earth 2 spotlight for awhile.