Earth Two #2

Diamond Distributors, pretty much the only name in delivering comic books to retailers, is fumbling things pretty bad right now as far as my friendly local is concerned. As such, my expected ongoing reviews of Earth Two and The Shadow are coming ‘much’ later than anticipated. For that I apologize, and continue without further delay.

Previously, on Earth Twooooooo…

In the parallel storytelling-universe that is the setting of this series, the central familiar characters of DC continuity (Superman, Batman, etc.) were all slain in a climactic battle with invading extraterrestrial forces, leaving a vacuum which is now being filled by a new generation of heroes (which are actually re-imagined versions of  characters that are truthfully much older, dating back to the 1940’s “Golden Age” of comics). As can be inferred from the cover, this particular issue focuses on the introduction of The Flash. No, not this Flash, that Flash. Except its not, really. Sort of.

It’s a bold offing, no doubt about it. The original characters they’re re-engineering, while not as popular as their contemporary descendants, were iconic in their own right and possessed a vocal cult fandom. I haven’t really fallen on one side or the other of the issue yet, but as a rule I like to reward risky ambition in the comics medium, so for the moment it has a subsidy of approval. In any case, onward!

The issues actually starts with the crash landing of Michael Holt, aka Mister Terrific, on Earth Two after falling through a convenient plothole wormhole at the conclusion of his headline solo series. I wanted to like the series, but it never really delivered the goods, so all in all I’m glad to see Holt getting back to his roots with his old team (or a version of it, anyway). Immediately he is confronted by a man named Terry Sloane, the self proclaimed “Smartest Man In The World” who predicted Holt’s arrival in this universe. Canny observers will note that Terry Sloane was also the name of the 1940’s version of Mister Terrific. Right off the bat, boom! Terry Sloane is revealed to be a villain, replete with mad science and a nefarious master plan. Controversial? Possibly, but it’s kept me interested. Also controversial? This.

I think. Maybe.

Full disclosure, the hubbub surrounding this hasn’t been nearly as intense as I thought it would be. The general consensus seems to have been “huh, how about that?” No great fanfare from either side. I was at ‘least’ expecting Fox News to try fomenting a misplaced moral panic. Frankly I shouldn’t be surprised. Alan Scott, while iconic and a solid B-lister in the DC lineup, isn’t any sort of immediate reference point for people outside the comics readership. It’s put me in a slightly awkward position, honestly. Innumerable times since the announcement I’ve seen people post that “Green Lantern is gay” believing it to be Hal Jordan, the mainstream version of the costume. Correcting them creates a set of inherent problems. While it’s on the surface simply a point of information, it’s difficult not to come off as somehow defensive of Hal Jordan, as if this somehow casts aspersions on his character. What’s more difficult is that there are an unfortunate number of fans who will take that very tack without irony. Honestly, I’m tempted to say that it ‘should’ have been Hal Jordan to be revealed as gay. To me it seems more like a proper “coming out,” in addition to being a more recognizable bannerman and more currently relevant given his military background. However, to argue this also can carry the implication that Alan Scott ‘shouldn’t’ be gay, which is problematic and not my intention. It’s possible that I may be getting over encumbered by P.C. rhetoric, but given the graceless hand that many fans seem to treat minority issues with I feel that at least one person ought to acknowledge these questions for what they are.

Give all the focus that Alan Scott’s minor role in this issue has received, it’s easy to forget that the main character of this particular story was ‘supposed’ to be Jay Garrick, the Flash. You know, the dude on the cover in the less than dapper space helmet. It’s not to say that his story is an overlooked epic hiding between the pages of this periodical. He talks to Mercury (yes that Mercury), gets his powers, fights some rats (yes the rats on the cover), aaaand yeah… While the process of re-imagining these characters has the benefit of making them fresh and accessible for a new audience, it also causes a medium with limited narrative space to become bogged down in successive origin stories before really cutting its teeth. I like what I’ve seen so far, but the pacing has undeniably suffered. I’m still on board, I just wish it would reach the next station a little sooner.

Now if only everyone in this book had goatees…

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