The Atom, the Sandmen, and members of the World’s Army have figured out the Jay Garrick is Flash thanks to a cell phone he dropped at Mercury’s crash site, which could lead to some interesting developments going forward.  Now, however, Jay and Khalid Ben-Hassin (Doctor Fate) face a more immediate threat. “The Tower of Fate” arc is fully underway in Earth 2, evident in last issue when Jay, his mother, and Khalid were transported to the realm of Nabu and encountered the evil sorcerer Wotan.

Issue 10 opens up with a flashback to two years ago, with Kendra and Khalid dodging bullets in an ancient Egyptian tomb.  An hour later, Kendra looks beaten up and newly-winged while Khalid is being drawn to the helmet of Nabu like a moth to a flame.  These two characters clearly have a history together, demonstrated by the trust they share with one another, and I’d enjoy seeing that history delved into more.

Returning to the present, Flash, his mother, and Khalid have encountered Wotan, who loves to talk.  Seriously, he talks so much.  I understand the desire for exposition describing the long-standing history of Nabu, but come on.  Entire pages are devoted to Wotan just talking about magic and Nabu and Wotan himself.  Flash is bipolar in this issue, shifting between rash and impulsive Wonder and son fearing for his mother’s life. 

Spoiler
He even calls Wotan “Mr. Wotan.”  You’re a Wonder, Jay.  Stand up for yourself and your family.

There is so much talking and exposition and more talking that I was actually surprised when the action finally moved to the titular Tower of Fate.  The Tower itself looks like an M.C. Escher painting, mixed in with Egyptian symbols and magical items whose meanings are not yet evident to us.

Meanwhile, on the physical plane, Alan Scott is trying to determine the identity of the ones responsible for Sam’s death.  There is a touching yet distant moment with Sam’s father, and Alan goes through unexpected-yet-totally-expected channels in order to get information.

Spoiler
He enlists the help of Hawkgirl, who apparently is some sort of detective as well as an archeologist.
  The final page of “The Tower of Fate, Part One” provides us with a very cool image about what the Tower of Fate has in store for Flash and Khalid.

If it weren’t for the massive amounts of exposition that force the reader to slog through the first half of the issue, this would be a very good start to “The Tower of Fate” arc (I’m not counting the Prologue).  If James Robinson had cut out much of that talking and just thrown our heroes into the Tower sooner, we could have gotten a better idea regarding the nature of the Tower and what dangers it holds for the Wonders.  I get that you need to make Wotan seem like a powerful and threatening villain, but you could definitely do that later on in the arc.  Other than that, the artwork is consistent and I loved the work done in the Tower itself.  With the final pages, I found myself actually wanting to immediately pick up the next issue.

The only other problem I have with this issue is the balancing between the stories.  Either follow Jay and Khalid, or stick to Kendra and Alan, but jumping between the two only breaks up the action and threw me off.  This is the problem I find most detracting from team books, but when done well it can be a truly rewarding experience.  So far, this is not the case.

Spoiler

  • Green Lantern enlists the help of Hawkgirl, who was killing Parademons.
  • I thought Batman killed all the Parademons when he destroyed those towers? How are there still Parademons alive and functioning?
  • Apparently, Sam was the target of the bombing all along.  Intrigue is mounting.
  • The Great Beast at the end of the issue looked menacing and fantastically drawn.  I’d like to see how a speedster and a defunct mystic combat it.

Favorite Quote: “Mercury.” “What about him?” “He chose well” – Khalid and Jay

Recommended If…

  • You’ve always wanted to see inside the Tower of Fate
  • Wotan is one of your favorite villains and you like a lot of exposition.
  • You’ve been wondering why that train blew up in Issue 2.

Overall:

I’ve been knocking Earth 2 for its story getting stuck in the mud, and this issue is no different.  It’s taken us two issues just to get into The Tower of Fate in “The Tower of Fate” arc, and Wotan just wouldn’t shut up.  Also, juggling two storylines may not work going forward, but for now it hasn’t become detrimental to the series.

SCORE: 6/10