Well this issue completely threw me for a loop going forward in the Earth 2 universe, and I think “1,370°C” highlights everything I dislike in this series.  It hurts me for to say it, because for me the last two issues were the best back-to-back issues since the very first two.  This feels more like a filler issue than anything else, something for the fans to chew on while the real meal is delayed for a later time.

For those just jumping on – and it’s a terrible time to do so – three of Earth 2’s Wonders (Doctor Fate, Flash, and Green Lantern) have just stopped the evil magician Wotan.  Hawkgirl is currently investigating the death of Green Lantern’s boyfriend, Sam, and The Atom is currently with the World’s Army, preparing to intervene with the trouble being caused by the Apokolips warloard Steppenwolf in the country of Dherain.  Whew.  Looks like tons of action coming up, right?  With our Wonders joining forces with perhaps the World’s Army to battle the forces of Apokolips in the deserts of Dherain?  Well, no, you don’t get that.  Instead, you get another origin story for another Wonder who really doesn’t seem all that interesting, with a plot that isn’t all that well-explained.

The World’s Army is preparing for battle with Dherain, but Commander Kahn! is sending one of the Army’s Wonders to Brazil.  Captain Steel, known as Henry Heywood Jr., is sent to Rio de Janeiro to investigate sightings of a mysterious figure coming out of a fire pit left over by the forces of Apokolips during the previous war. 

Spoiler
These pits were created by Terry Sloan to help Steppenwolf! And you let this dude live!? Why!? On top of that, you let him oversee parts of the World’s Army and let him treat Commander Kahn! like a total jerk!? Why was this guy not killed like, five years ago!?

Captain Steel’s origin story is very similar to that of Earth-Prime’s Cyborg, Victor Stone.  Heywood Jr. was a sickly child whose father was a brilliant and possibly insane scientist.  Rather than watch his son die, Heywood Sr. infused his son with Mad-Metal, which turned his son’s bones into metal Wolverine-style.  It also, however, turned many of his organs and much of his nervous system to steel as well, which turned Heywood Jr. into an emotionless ass.  Which is what he is through most of this issue: boring, emotionless, and a jerk to the only person he interacts with.  Heywood enters the fire pit because he can survive at such high temperatures, hence the book’s title “1,370°C.”

Meanwhile, we are treated to a mildly more interesting side story featuring Hawkgirl, as she continues to try and find the culprits behind Sam’s murder.  She’s in the graveyard where Sam is buried, and is ambushed by soldiers from Apokolips on genetically mutated Apokorats (you last saw them in Issue 2 when Flash was throwing them into a trash can).  None of that matters, because there’s an insane reveal that confused me but made me want to do nothing but pick up the next issue.  See Spoilers for more information regarding the reveal and what happens with Captain Steel.

Unfortunately, the story is greatly lacking in “1,370°C,” which has been the biggest problem for most of the Earth 2 run.  The artwork is also not up to par with much of the rest of the series, especially seeing as how we were given such great work in The Tower of Fate arc.  It’s a different art team this time around, with Yildiray Cinar and Rob Hunter providing the pencils and ink respectively.  I wasn’t a fan of their depiction of Captain Steel; he looked way too much like Captain America for my taste.  There was also the use of a third-person narrator in the Hawkgirl side story, which I’m pretty sure had never been used before in Earth 2.  If that was James Robinson’s choice to try and make Hawkgirl’s story seen more noir­-ish, I hope he does not do it again.  It felt so out of place that it jarred me from the story.

With the subsequent reveals at the end of the issue, I fear that Earth 2 is just adding way too many characters.  I love reading about Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkgirl, and even Doctor Fate because I felt like I knew them on a deeper level than most heroes.  I could relate to Jay, I sympathized with Alan, and was awed by the powers of the Doctor, but Captain Steel and The Atom are just so shallow and non-interesting characters that I pray their inclusion will not drag down the series.  This results in more speech bubbles and exposition in order to explain each Wonder.  Keep the heroes to a minimum, and don’t overbear us with too many too soon, please.

Spoiler

  • Holy crap.  If that was actually Batman, and he actually blew that guy’s head off with an exploding batarang, I am pumped to see what happens next.  He seemed to know what was going on with Sam and Hawkgirl’s investigation, and that whole disappearing-into-red-mist thing was pretty awesome.
  • Henry Heywood Jr. was originally the son of Commander Steel, and father of Steel.  His Earth-Prime version was killed in the Vietnam War.
  • There was a cool little homage to Red Torpedo, the ship that Captain Steel uses to travel into the pit.
  • So Steel is made of metal and can bend it to his will?  So he’s like a cross between Wolverine and Magneto?
  • Captain Steel emerges from the pit screaming like a man possessed about “The Red Lantern” and if she were to get free then the Earth is doomed.

Favorite Quote: None. I hate to say it, but this issue had absolutely nothing for me.

Recommended If…

  • Captain Steel (Steel) is your favorite hero.
  • You’ve been wondering what Kendra’s been up to.

Overall:

For the issue that I’ve probably disliked the most so far in Earth 2, I sure did write a lot about it.  “1,370°C” represents everything I don’t like about this series, with its extensive explanations, weak characters, and little story progression.  I’m just going to forget this ever happened.

SCORE: 3/10