The Vanier Report: Week 21
A new title for a comic book mythology is like a new beginning. The characters may be familiar, but their adventures and their trajectory are unaccounted for, leaving the door open to new possibilities. And for the heroes and civilians of Earth 2, a new beginning is more than earned.
After years of war with Apokolips, of a brief, paranoid fear, and then a final cataclysmic defeat at the hands of Darkseid, Earth 2 saw the literal end of their world, and though two million survivors made it off-planet before the end, the generation ships were left floating in space with nowhere to go. But at the end of Convergence, the heroes of Earth 2 were granted a second chance, as the planet Telos was moved into their universe to become their new home.
In Earth 2: Society, writer Daniel H. Wilson shows us what has become of the new Earth 2 at its citizens attempt to rebuild their lives and their civilization. The book opens one year after “Planetfall”, with Dick Grayson as the new Batman chasing a fugitive Terry Sloan through the streets of New Gotham. As Batman takes a detour to save a child in the street, Sloan is apprehended by Johnny Sorrow, a villain who also has business with the world’s smartest man. Batman arrives and rescues Sloan from Sorrow before resuming their chase, learning that Sloan is on the run from something that has compromised Overwatch-One, the de facto dictatorship he established upon arriving at the new Earth 2.
Intercut with this narrative is a flashback to the moments immediately following Convergence, where the generation ships arrive at their new home only to have Terry Sloan forcibly crash them into the planet. Most survive, partly due to Sloan’s calculations and partly due to the timely intervention of the Green Lantern, but it establishes the beginning of Overwatch-One as well as how each generation ship’s landing site was the seed of one of the new Earth 2’s twelve major cities.
Jorge Jimenez’ artwork is wonderful. There is a peculiar balance between the pseudo-futurism of the buildings and cars of New Gotham and the familiarity of its rainy nighttime vigilante justice. It’s a Gotham we know despite never having seen it before. Likewise, the redesigns of Batman and Green Lantern (as well as others that we have seen in solicitations) are very interesting, helping to further distinguish this world not only from the Earth 0 continuity but also from the “old” era of Earth 2 itself.
Wilson’s script achieves many of the same things: after over a year of all-out war with Apokolips, it is incredibly refreshing to return to the familiarity of Batman chasing criminals through the streets of New Gotham. There is some exciting potential in Dick Grayson’s Batman; this Dick was never the Boy Wonder and he is relatively inexperienced, but his compassion shines through as a universal (or multiversal) trait of the character. And for all the setup of the new world, Wilson very smartly leaves much unanswered. What has happened to Alan Scott? What happened to Overwatch-One? How does life on the New Earth 2 work?
The title Earth 2: Society is really rather clever. In addition to alluding to the world’s heroes (still waiting for them to be referred to as the Justice Society), what the book is really about is building a society from scratch? Who is in charge? What is the law? What place do heroes have in shaping the destiny of a brand new civilization? By switching back and forth between the past and present, Wilson is able to pose those questions as well as answer them, but more importantly it invites the reader to judge where exactly things went right or wrong for the new world. The stakes have never been higher for Earth 2, but we (and they) get a much needed break from the war and death that characterized Earth 2: World’s End. For all the danger and potential for error, there is an underlying hope that this new world could actually be better than the old one.
There is a lot to take in with this title, from new settings to new characters to new rules, but that is also what makes it so exciting. Wilson and Jimenez are building a rich new world for readers to explore that is both completely unknown and curiously familiar.
Two stray thoughts:
- I read a comment somewhere online by someone who was upset by how much the new costume designs looked like the Crime Syndicate. I never thought it myself, but reading the book, it was hard not to notice that Alan Scott’s speech bubble was coloured the same way as Jessica Cruz, the successor to Power Ring. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence, but it definitely made his mysterious change in demeanour a bit more ominous.
- I am excited to see the new binary star-system at play. Earth 2’s new solar system has both a yellow and a red sun, which should make for some exciting new territory for Superman and Power Girl.
Feature Written By: Reid Vanier
“Reid is a comic book fan masquerading as a theatre artist. His love of comics (specifically DC) was inherited by his father’s collections of Flash, Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes, and Justice League of America. Reid is now the Editor and Lead Writer of Modern Mythologies.”