(DC Comics, 2013)
Review by Shawn Warner
Written by: Tom Taylor
Pencils by: Nicola Scott
Inks by: Trevor Scott
Color Art by: Peter Pantazis
There is a lot going on in Tom Taylor’s first issue of Earth 2 as he follows prolific writer James Robinson on the series. Over the past few issues the creative team has taken a decidedly darker approach and that seems to have carried over with Taylor’s arrival. Taylor is no stranger to writing the dark doppelgängers of the DCU’s most iconic heroes having penned the Injustice comic book tie in to the wildly popular video game. Although this is the start of Taylor’s run and the first issue of a new story arc it is not necessarily a good jumping on point for new readers, perhaps this would be a good time for DC to re-evaluate their no re-caps rule. There are many plot threads continuing from Robinson’s complex and captivating run that have yet to be resolved and while that is not a big boon to attract new readers, the existing readership can rest assured that the series is in qualified hands.
No other character has been affected more by the series’ darker tonal shift than Superman. After surviving his apparent death by the murderous hand of Darkseid, Superman has gone on to become the villain’s herald wiping out armies with ease and without mercy, not even Earth 2’s “Wonders” are a match for the rampaging Superman. He leaves a trail of dead and dying, broken and beaten in his wake including a badly injured Dr. Fate and an apparently fatally wounded Sam Lane. His current violent state of mind creates a pervasive sense of menace and uneasy anticipation that overshadows the entire issue as the heroes of Earth 2 attempt to put an end to Superman’s vicious onslaught.
Taylor expands the cast of characters in this issue as he introduces a new Earth 2 Batman and more deeply develops the Lois Lane/ Red Tornado character. In the case of the new Batman, he seems to be lurking just on the periphery of the main narrative literally underground where he is protecting the stasis chambers containing “criminals and madmen”. The new Red Tornado is unlike any incarnation of the character we have seen thus far. The idea of Lois inside the robotic red body provides countless scenarios for future plots as well as proving to be a major player in this current arc.
Returning Artist Nicola Scott brings a sense of familiarity to the new voice of Tom Taylor. Scott has handily adapted to the change of writers as well as the tonal change. Her visual storytelling is precise as is her grasp of anatomy and staging of action sequences. She employs a dynamic approach to character design the fits this book perfectly, the heroes of Earth 2 are so much more than alternative takes on their DCU counterparts, they are very much their own characters and that comes across in Scott’s portrayal right down to body language and facial expression. She perfectly captures the gritty dystopian world of Earth 2 with expert use of shadows and meticulous attention to detail in her backgrounds and environments. Scott and Taylor seem to have a cohesive working chemistry that I hope lasts for a good long run full of lots of great arcs. Earth 2 is a book that deserves a much larger readership, James Robinson’s run was full of intriguing plots with lots of action and great characterizations I hope all of those readers stick around for what looks like more of the same with Tom Taylor at the helm.
Issue #17 is a tremendous first offering; it sets the pace for a thrilling opening arc. The only short-coming and it’s not Taylor’s fault, is that it’s not as new reader friendly as it should be. Earth 2 is a complex and multi-layered series so to expect new readers to come aboard after a one page synopsis is unrealistic but it would sure make getting up to speed a bit easier than jumping in cold. As for the content of the issue overall it’s top-notch, storytelling and visual excellence. I give this issue a solid 4/5 and highly recommend picking this one up. So until next time, see ya at the comic book store.
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