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Earth 2 #5 – Review

No, Boston's not in this book.Even though the battle against Grundy escalates, Earth 2 feels like it’s losing momentum. The newness of this alternate setting is waning, and some of the flaws of James Robinson’s writing style are more noticeably. It’s still a good book. But things feel like they are beginning to settle in a less than ideal way.

Robinson puts more of Earth 2 on display, giving us a real look at the World Council, its intelligence agency Sentinel, Wesley Dodds and the Sandmen as well as a few name drops for later. This is good. It’s something to appreciate. Robinson is moving at a nice pace with the roll out of this parallel world. There’s a real confidence to the way he is going about it, as though he truly does have much of it planned out. Let’s be honest here. That’s not a sense you really get from the main DC Earth. But Robinson really conveys that these are all pieces of a puzzle he has already put together in his mind.

The new familiar hero we get introduced to this time around is Wesley Dodds, who fans know as the original Sandman. It’s hard to judge this new interpretation of him yet. At first, I’m a bit unimpressed. With Atom already having strong military overtones to him, Dodds leading what looks like a team of military operatives comes off as redundant. There’s also mention of a Captain Steel, who I assume is fairly military-themed as well. I think it would be better if only one character in the ensemble cast of this book stood as the soldier superhero, and Atom seems to do the job pretty well. But hey, there is likely more to Dodds than we see here.

This issue is largely just a continuation of the fight with Grundy, simply with slightly more heroes involved. Or Wonders, as I guess Earth 2 will call them. I actually enjoy that it has that kind of distinction.

I still strongly question the timing of this whole plot. Did it have to be Grundy first? Did it have to be the Grey? This battle is an alternate world’s take on the current conflict between the Red, Green and Rot that has been going on from the start of the Swamp Thing and Animal Man titles. And that’s the problem. Rotworld is current. It’s happening right now and has spent a year being built toward. Why are we doing something so purposely similar in Earth 2, especially at the same time as the whole thing is reaching its peak with Rotworld?

Don’t get me wrong. I do like the idea of Grundy and the Grey as Earth 2’s own version of the Rot. But doing this at the same time as the source material is a weak decision. It diminishes Earth 2. This week we have Rotworld in Animal Man and Swamp Thing and Rotworld-lite in Earth 2. That’s what you get when you put it all side by side in such a way. I really believe this would have worked better had DC waited a year on Grundy and used some other crisis as Earth 2’s opening story.

But really, the main problem this issue suffers from is Robinson’s typical weakness for writing dialogue. He has bad tendencies to throw out stilted exposition and canned dramatic dialogue. Those tendencies are in force here. Half the time, it feels like characters should turn and wink at the reader as they so obviously drop information for us and aren’t actually conversing with other characters. Then, there are big moments like Green Lantern taking charge and having his big hero moment, which come off as campy because his dialogue is so generically dramatic. It really does hurt the story, but I’ve come to accept it as a price you pay with Robinson.

It's spelled Gray, damn it!
Nicola Scott continues to rock on the art chores. I really like her designs for Hawkgirl and Atom. They don’t simply look good. They achieve that often overlooked task of saying something about the characters in the costume. Green Lantern’s all green costume is growing on me too, though I still think it’s a too dull. But man, the Flash. I’m sorry. There is just no angle she can draw him in which his costume doesn’t look terrible. It doesn’t help that Jay is the worst character in the book in general too.

Oh, and continuing Earth 2’s progressive streak, the President of the United States is apparentl a woman.

An excellent cliffhanger ending helps Earth 2 retain some of its momentum. Still, Robinson’s handling of dialogue leaves much to be desired, and this issue doesn’t provide enough new developments to distract from that common flaw. Doing all this at the same time of Rotworld casts a shadow over it as well, making this one of the weaker issues of what still at least remains a good series.

Rating
7.3

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