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After coming out of the gate strong, Earth 2 stumbles with this third issue as some of James Robinson’s less appealing writing habits take center stage. While it doesn’t make this a bad issue, it does make it pale in comparison to the previous two issues with their big reveals and big developments. Here, we largely and rather slowly go through the motions of Alan Scott becoming the Green Lantern while Flash and Hawkgirl meet.
One of the better things Robinson does here is create an Earth 2 Green Lantern mythology that is distinct from space-based law enforcement agency readers are generally more familiar with. Alan Scott has nothing even tangentially to do with that here, and his power is as Earth-based as you can possibly get. Now, it does take some extra suspension of disbelief to accept that the two Earths can take such wildly different routes to get to the same destination, which is a ring-bearing Green Lantern. But I think most will be able to get past that.
Also as part of Earth 2’s Green Lantern mythology, Robinson opens the door to the idea that Alan has a line of unknown predecessors. He may not be the first of his kind, and that could lead to some very interesting stories and characters, especially given that his predecessors likely harnessed their power through objects other than a ring.
Speaking of the ring, I’m very glad Robinson goes with the idea that Alan’s power ring is the very ring he intended to give to Sam in his tragically fated proposal. That’s some powerful stuff, and it makes the power ring far more personal to Alan than just being the tool with which he wields his power.
So there is a lot to like about Alan Scott’s new origin and premise. Unfortunately, the manner in which Robinson carries all this out isn’t all that great. The conversation between Alan and the being bestowing his power is dragged out through most of the issues and is filled with Robinson’s not-so-appealing tendency toward stilted, exposition-filled dialogue. This is definitely not an exercise in subtlety. We have to be explicitly told that Alan is Superman’s replacement on Earth 2. That can’t just be implied or shown over the course of events. It has to be stated, and honestly, that diminishes Alan as a character. I don’t want to be introduced to him as “Superman’s replacement.” I want to be introduced to him as “Green Lantern, a hero in his own right” and one that I can later see is as good or better than Superman. But that’s just not how Robinson writes this issue. He doesn’t let you come to conclusiions. He tells you what those conclusions are. Alan is filling Superman’s role. The being who talks with Alan is probably one of his predecessors and used to be human. The ring is the one he used to propose to Sam, you know, in case you missed all that last issue. Everything has to be plainly explained, and really, that doesn’t make for very good dialogue or reading.
This issue also introduces the new version of one of Alan’s classic enemies and leaves me feeling a bit conflicted about it. I think the opposing forces aspect of it that Robinson sets up for it is pretty perfect, but he goes one step further by borrowing certain buzzwords from the current Animal Man and Swamp Thing books. It’s a very awkward fit, though. Now, I can see how this particular character fits in well with the idea of the Rot. But Alan’s Green bears no resemblance at all to Swamp Thing’s Green. This isn’t a huge problem, but I don’t think it’s the best move to frame a conflict in a similar way to what we have going on already in two other DC titles. So hopefully, Robinson holds back on drawing any more parallels with this and lets it go in its own direction.
Flash and Hawkgirl are also in this issue, though they may as well not be. Unlike Alan’s portion of the issue, which had some really good ideas that just could have been executed better, Flash and Hawkgirl’s meeting reads as empty filler material. It really is such a silly, superhero comics scene. Hawkgirl wants to see what Flash is made of, so they play-fight for a minute. Then we have Flash briefly explain himself to her for reasons that I don’t get. I’m sorry, but isn’t this our introduction to Hawkgirl? Why do I have Jay Garrick briefly reiterating his origin? I’m pretty sure I saw all that in the previous issue. In the end, I come away from this scene knowing almost nothing new about either character and feeling that my time has been wasted.
Mr. Terrific, disappointingly, is not in this issue. There is no follow-up to the Michael Holt and Terry Sloane situation that began in the second issue. What makes this so disappointing is that it is not as though this issue is so packed with content that there couldn’t have been room. And besides a tricky name drop by Hawkgirl, we don’t get much in the way of references to other Earth 2 characters.
I really do like Nicola Scott’s art, but I am still having problems with costume designs here. I made my feelings clear on the ridiculousness of Flash’s costume in my last review. As for Hawgirl, I don’t really understand what made it necessary to change her color scheme to blue, but I actually do really like her new look. I would rate it among the best of the New 52. Green Lantern, though… I don’t know. It wouldn’t rate it among the best or the worst. It’s somewhere in the middle. The design isn’t too bad, barring the weird shoulderpads, but what really kills it is how it is all just green. One color. Is this an overreaction to his old costume? We’ve simply gone from one extreme to another. Also, we have Alan Scott as a prominently gay character, but now, he doesn’t have an outrageous cape anymore? Come on. The new costume isn’t bad, but it is lackluster and dull.
Earth 2 takes a step down in quality from its previous issue. The origin of the Green Lantern is too drawn out and explains too much. The first meeting of Flash and Hawkgirl is a silly trope of a superhero meet-up with too little substance. The extra world-building of the previous issue is absent from this one, and there is no follow-up to the third story thread from that issue with Mr. Terrific either. What does hold this issue up though is the appealing art of Scott and some strong ideas and new mythology from Robinson. So while this is the weakest issue so far, it’s far from being so weak that it spells doom for the series. Hopefully, Robinson can get back into the swing of things and tighten up his storytelling next issue.