Earth-2: Society #1
Writer – Daniel H. Wilson
Art – Jorge Jimenez
Colors – John Rauch
Letters – Travis Lanham
Publisher – DC Comics
Being a travel agent on Earth-2 definitely has to be the Seventh Circle of Hell of careers. Sure the folks on the Nazi Earth or the Crime Syndicate Earth have their jobs cut out for them trying to convince anyone that their universe is a nice place to visit for even a nanosecond. But as Highfather’s sacrificial lamb to keep Darkseid from preying upon the whole of existence, Earth-2 makes a pretty strong case for having it the worst of all. That’s not the breaks, that’s just harsh beyond measure. But now Convergence has ushered in a whole new world — in the most literal way possible. Taking these characters in a completely new direction, Earth-2: Society makes a bold attempt at getting the Earth-2 line to hit its stride in ways that have eluded it since its inception.
Let’s face it, the Earth-2 line that launched back in 2012 hasn’t been the most smooth sailing. As the modern day successor to a concept that was basically an excuse to integrate the Golden and Silver Ages, it could have been an easy way for DC to regularly offer readers superhero yarns in a universe off the mainstream one, something more contained and easier to follow. But Earth-2 just never seemed to gel the way it should. Of course, it didn’t help that it’s hard to tell the story of one universe in a single monthly title when the other universe requires fifty-one, which resulted in enticing characters and concepts being left to float half-baked at the edges of stories. It could be for all of the above reasons that the creatives at DC decided to not only expand into a weekly format for a short time, but also take the series in a wildly unexpected, dark direction by annihilating Earth-2 and starting a new story about humanity rebuilding civilization from the ground up.
Because of this, Earth-2: Society (and probably the future of the Earth-2 line itself) ends up resting on some pretty shaky grounds. The story is essentially a post-apocalypse/superhero mash-up. This isn’t to say that there’s anything inherently wrong such an idea, or that it hasn’t been made to work in the past. But we’re talking about legacy characters like Power Girl, Huntress, Jay Garrick’s Flash, and Alan Scott’s Green Lantern here. To place them in the confines of such a story just feels so constricting. There aren’t very many possibilities for telling the kind of diverse, sprawling narratives you get in the mainstream DC universe when your setting is a world struggling to rebuild a civilization. But that’s the thing about this latest Earth-2 title: it’s given up its potential to be the DC Alternate-U in favor of being a more high-concept, niche series. It certainly isn’t for everybody, and it certainly stands apart from most of DC’s other titles, but is it going to be the best creative choice in the long run?
Earth-2: Society #1 structures its story from Dick Grayson’s point-of-view. In the present, the New Earth-2 colonies — built from the wreckage of the ships that carried the last remnants of humanity away from Old Earth-2 — have already been surviving for a year, and Dick is now officially the Batman of “New Gotham.” He still has not been reunited with his son, but at least seems to be flourishing well after taking up the cowl from Thomas Wayne. We find him in pursuit of Terry Sloane, whose machinations to become rule of New Earth-2 led to him almost killing major portions of the remaining human population as they attempted to land their ships on this new world. Sloane is now a wanted man, and it seems it isn’t just Batman who’s after him.
There are a couple problems with the script, the obvious one being that anyone who picks up this first issue right after witnessing the birth of New Earth-2 in the pages of Convergence may be a little confused. Dick Grayson was in good health and wearing a version of the Batsuit as Convergence came to a close, so how did he come to be in a ripped t-shirt and jeans lying half-dead and unable to walk in the forest? And if Alan Scott has been something of a god this whole time, why was it never mentioned during any of the events on Telos? Are there pieces that bridge the story from Convergence to Society out there somewhere, or is this just a matter of creators inventing their own continuity for the purposes of their own story?
Daniel H. Wilson pens the script here after serving as head writer for the weekly Earth-2: World’s End. He has the unenviable task of not only re-introducing us to at least twelve major player over the course of a 20-page story, but also setting up the thrust of this new series’ plot. As a result, the story ends up feeling very meager and rushed. We’re treated to cursory details about how our heroes managed to lead humanity to their new home, what Batman’s been up to lately, and a few mysterious hints about a “he” that Terry Sloane is afraid of. There’s a lot to explore about this new world, but this issue offers very little to cut your teeth on, and it all feels over before it even began. Of all the aspects of the issue, Jorge Jimenez’s artwork is the standout, with some gorgeous panel compositions that create just the right sense of action, drama, and otherworldliness to get you excited about this new universe in ways where the story falls short.
Earth 2: Society seems to have a lot of growing pains to go through before it justifies its somewhat brash new creative direction. Its title seems to imply that some new iteration of the Justice Society stories of old may be coming down the pipes, but it mostly just leaves the reader yearning for twenty-first century JSA stories that aren’t set in a barely standing post-apocalyptic civilization.
But then again, a barely standing post-apocalyptic civilization? What could be more twenty-first century than that?