When Earth 2 was announced, I was definitely a detractor. It made no sense to me, because it seemed to go against everything the New 52 was allegedly trying to do. How do you get any less modern, less relevant, less friendly to new readers than trying to bring back Earth 2 and the DC Multiverse? Well, I was wrong. Earth 2 is turning out to be everything the New 52 should have been.
All of the news is about Alan Scott being revealed as a gay man here, but this issue is really much more about Jay Garrick and his origin as Earth 2’s Flash. On a rare occasion, the cover represents an issue correctly. This is Flash’s origin story, and I rather like it. Let’s face it. Jay didn’t have much of an origin to begin with, so the re-imagining he gets here is pretty welcome. I’m actually rather fond of the idea of tying Jay into Greek mythology as the source of his powers. This is diminished somewhat by the idea that all the gods of Earth 2 are now dead, but it’s still a unique and interesting origin. It’s also far superior to trying to make sense of something called the Speed Force. There are a lot of potential stories in Jay's new mythological origin, and none of them require contortions of bsd comic book science.
I do have two problems with the new Jay Garrick, though. The first is his personality. He’s that kind of young slacker, reluctant hero type that it feels like we have read about many, many times before. He’s just not very distinct personality-wise. Granted, there is easily potential here for James Robinson to develop him on a more distinct route. My other problem with Jay is... well... that costume. Now, I love Nicola Scott’s artwork. But that costume has problems. Blame largely falls on the helmet, though. The reasoning here escapes me. Finally, the ridiculousness of Jay’s helmet magically staying on is made moot by making his powers magical. And NOW they mutilate the helmet in an attempt to make it make sense that it stays on? Why? You have Mercury’s helmet right there. It would have been a non-issue now. We wouldn’t have question how it stays on, because it is actually the helmet of Mercury! Why do we now have to put up with this fugly helmet instead? Also, why does a costume that seems to magically appear have seams and zippers?
Jay doesn’t take up the entire issue, and no, I’m still not talking about Alan. Mr. Terrific makes his debut on Earth 2, spinning out of events at the end of his own series. You all read that, right? No, no one really did. I wonder if DC will claim this was the plan from the start. Yes, they intended for Mr. Terrific to be a poorly realized series that would be among the first cancelled so he could help launch this book. To be really honest, the move to Earth 2 is likely the best thing DC could do with the character. His status as a genius, billionaire CEO in the main universe was a doomed prospect from the start and frankly, DC just doesn't have a writer of Warren Ellis' type to make a Mr. Terrific solo book work. This could position him to actually be a more unique character again. And if you think this means Robinson has no plans for the original Mr. Terrific, Terry Sloane, you are quickly corrected on that belief in this issue.
Here we go. Alan Scott is gay. It’s a good move from DC to backtrack on their stance of not changing the ethnicity or sexuality of characters in the New 52. It’s really not a stance they should have ever taken. It worked well enough for Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, and it would have worked well for DC. So while it’s a bit too late coming, it’s still good to see DC making a choice like this. Given that the de-aging already erases Alan’s biological children, there was never anything inherently straight about the character that needed to be preserved here. And while this will only beckon jokes about his weakness to wood and his flaming constructs, he’s still a good choice.
What will really get people talking in this issue is that we get ANOTHER proposal of same-sex marriage. This one turns out quite differently, and that makes it infinitely more interesting than that other one. People will claim that this is a cheap stunt in reaction to what Marvel is currently doing, but I have trouble seeing it that way. Unlike Northstar’s proposal of marriage, this doesn’t really come off as artificial. No, we know nothing at all about the relationship between Alan and his partner, but look at how well this could fit into Alan’s origin. Consider the new meaning this could give the ring he wears as Green Lantern. Really, I think what Robinson does here is pretty brilliant.
I am just amazed at how much I am getting invested in Earth 2. I came into this series trying to keep an open mind but honestly expecting it to be a wrong-headed disaster. I could not have been more mistaken. So much of this is exactly what I wanted DC’s New 52 to be, and whatever Robinson and Scott are planning for this book is easily one of the most interesting things currently going on with DC Comics.