Written by Marguerite Bennett & Mike Johnson
Pencils by Andy Smith; Inks by Trevor Scott
Published by DC Comics
‘Earth 2’ #29 marks the torch passing from series writer Tom Taylor to Marguerite Bennett and her fellow ‘Earth 2: World’s End’ writing team. Unfortunately, it’s off to a rough start as #29 marks the first genuinely bad issue in nearly two and half years of solid releases.
With the start of “World’s End,’ the ‘Earth 2’ main book has changed to fit alongside its sibling series’ format. That’s not to say the change was bad. In fact, the first issue to tie into ‘World’s End’ is one of the greatest in the entire series. However, it’s clear now that ‘Earth 2’ is mostly a book that serves to better flesh out story points and characters not fully explored in ‘World’s End.’
This month’s issue actually starts out with a lot of potential as it focuses on Dick and Barbara Grayson along with their son, Johnny. One thing ‘Earth 2’ really hasn’t delved into that much is how the seemingly endless line of world shattering events has played out for everyday people with no connections to superheroes or Earth 2’s global military. The Graysons have been spending most of their time in the pages of ‘World’s End’ trying, and failing, to retain order in a Chicago refugee camp with the new found help of Ted Grant. As the issue opens up, asteroids devastate the city and all but destroy the camp. The Graysons make it out thanks the help of Lottie, a fellow survivor who’s been making her own way in the bombed out remains of Chicago. She takes the family to where she believes they’ll be safe, a shanty town named Gomorrah. That is until it’s revealed that Gomorrah is little more than a quasi-cultist state whose citizens think that since the world’s ending, why not have a big depraved party before their inevitable deaths?
In all fairness, that sounds pretty interesting. Granted the concept is taking more than a few notes from the likes of ‘Mad Max,’ ‘Fallout,’ or any other form of leather-clad apocalyptic fiction, but it’s by far one of the darkest moments in the entire series. Most of ‘Earth 2’ has featured superheroes and military officials who have to put aside their differences and unite in the face of planetary destruction. Any civilians on the ground when entire continents are vaporized serve as nothing more than visual cannon fodder. To see normal people, caught in the cross fire of god-like powers tearing the Earth apart and reduced to nihilistic debauchery is part of the amazing world building of James Robinson’s original run. It’s just a shame that this issue does nothing with that concept. In fact the story barely has a three act structure, instead coming off like a really disturbing side tour. That’s bad, but it also highlights to question of what actual purpose do the Graysons serve for Earth 2. This family’s been here since #1 of the weekly series and it feels like their story isn’t even begun after over two months. It might have been saved by the presence of the newly introduced Ted Grant, but his role could barely be called a cameo. All in all, the plot is not only forgettable, it seems it has no actual importance in either ‘Earth 2’ or ‘World’s End.’ Maybe Lottie will return, she has the design for a potentially interesting character and seems to resemble this world’s Harley Quinn, but that’s anyone’s guess.
Andy Smith does a good job on art. He can do energetic action and hit slower moments as well. However, sometimes his designs, say for a token Parademon, comes off lacking. The major problem is his drawing of the young Johnny Grayson. It’s tough to say what about the way he’s drawn that makes him so off putting, but he resembles more a little person than a child. Trevor Scott is likewise great in his field. Although his crisper inks do make the town of Gomorrah a little too clean than what would be expected.
It’s painful to say this, but ‘Earth 2’ #29 really is a bad issue. The series has always stood out as the high mark for DC’s New 52 line, but here is where it finally drops the ball. No one can hold a perfect streak forever. It’s a really bad sign as this is the first issue after Tom Taylor’s departure from the book. Bennett and Johnson really do have the makings for a great new run, but this is not how to start it. It’s a ultimately forgettable issue that reads more like a $2.99 side step than a story.