Review by C.J. Bunce
James Robinson was able to do with his first issue in Wave 2 of DC Comics’s New 52 what the other DC Justice League creators didn’t do in the initial launch–he created an exciting and interesting play on the DC universe. And with Paul Levitz they have re-ignited the superhero books when it seemed like the titles across the board were wavering a bit.
Robinson’s Earth 2 takes DC back to its origins up through the 1980s when characters traversed parallel universes before there were all the myriad multiverses in the DCU with series in the 2000s, such as that found in the weekly series titled 52. Levitz switched up the classic DC title known for Batman and Superman team-ups–World’s Finest, flipping the apostrophe to account for the parallel worlds into the new Worlds’ Finest.
You can’t read one title without the other. Issue #1 of Worlds’ Finest nudges Earth 2 only a bit because of its focus on a new Huntress and Power Girl, so far missing their own titles in the New 52. But are they really who they appear to be? Back to that in a bit.
I love parallel universe stories, ever since reading the battle between the Earth 1 and Earth 2 superheroes in the pages of Justice League of America as a kid. These two issues brought back all the fun of those earlier stories.
The first book of the parallel DCU is Issue #1 of Earth 2, and you’ve just got to envy Robinson and artist Nicola Scott with what they were allowed to do here–show the death scenes of not one but all of DC’s big three, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. Scott even folded in her own versions of the supersuits, which are cooler than the earlier New 52 outfits. But these characters only die on Earth 2 (not our Earth 1) in a battle called the Apokolips War (really, why do they always have to spell it so strangely?) by the leader of some “parademons” under a leader called Steppenwolf (usually with such a unique name you’d have an explanation for it, but neither the band, the novel or the wolf appear to apply here). Regardless, Steppenwolf kills Wonder Woman first, but not before she has an encounter with the God Mercury, followed by the explosive death of Superman. Batman sacrifices himself to blow everything to kingdom come, but not before a sign-off with daughter Helena, presumably his daughter with Catwoman, who is fighting the parademons as Robin, Batman’s sidekick. Supergirl, here Karen Starr from DC’s 1970s, and Helena are part of the explosion and their ongoing story continues in Worlds’ Finest Issue #1.
But Earth 2 continues as we meet the Earth 2‘s Green Lantern (although he doesn’t have that title yet) Alan Scott. And the issue ends as the God Mercury shows up to meet 21-year-old self-described screw-up Jay Garrick. The name for a classic Flash in the DCU, no doubt we can see where Issue #2 will go with this character. The how of showing Justice Society leaders Green Lantern and Flash getting together is well worth looking forward to.
Kudos to DC Comics for putting James Robinson on this title–his Justice League-Cry for Justice, although criticized by some, is one of the best reads from DC in years of limited “Crisis” series featuring the JLA. Robinson can handle the intertwining story elements of something as complex as merging two Earths.
In Worlds’ Finest Issue #1, writer Paul Levitz and artist George Perez pick up the Earth 2 story by following the adventures of Robin and Supergirl as they decide to change their personas on Earth 1 into Huntress and Powergirl. The big question is: What happened to Kara Zor-L, Supergirl of Earth 1 and Helena Bertinelli, Huntress of Earth 1? We know Supergirl is in her own Earth 1 series and Huntress recently finished up a trip to Italy in her own limited series. Will we get to see a Supergirl vs Power Girl battle as we’ve seen in the past? And Worlds’ Finest starts with the mention of Earth 1 Helena Bertinelli’s death. But how?
Worlds’ Finest has great banter and chemistry between Karen and Helena, like we saw in the Gail Simone/Nicola Scott era of Birds of Prey. Here this Worlds’ Finest issue is what I’d hoped for with the New 52 reboot of Birds of Prey. You could easily see Batgirl of the New 52 joining up with these two superheroines at some point. Helena fills the shoes as the Batman clone Huntress very well here–Huntress is at her best when she is written as Batman with a different hairdo and all the detective skill. Karen’s Power Girl is outgoing and fun. not the typical spacey, serious and ethereal Supergirl. But fans of her revealing Power Girl suit note that that outfit is long gone, replaced with a more updated supersuit.
I was pleasantly surprised with these first two issues of the New 52 second wave. The re-hashed origin story that caused me to stop buying Justice League after the first few issues was disappointing, so it is nice to have a similar topic approached in such a refreshing and fun way. Anxiously awaiting the second issues next month!