Wow.  When Earth 2 has finished its run, regardless of how long or short it may be, I think I’ll look back on “To The Victor…” as the point where the series succeeded or failed.  So much was done in this issue, both good and bad, that really encompass the spirit of Earth 2 so far; but there is also an encroaching darkness to the series.  We start with such hope and faith in the new Wonders, and by the end of this issue I’m sitting with a pit in my stomach, realizing that a giant hand has come down to bat away that optimism as if it were a gadfly.

Last issue, we visited the battle in Dherain through the lens of Flash’s foggy memory.  The Hunger Dogs – Steppenwolf’s Hounds in battle – had soundly defeated our heroes, but for some reason, left them alive.  Whether it was hubris or condescension, I do not know, but if there’s one thing movies, television shows, and comics have taught me, it’s do not hesitate and do not gloat.  Both of these come in to play later on in “To The Victor…” which will have a resounding impact across Earth 2.

We open up with a brief look inside Steppenwolf’s mind and learn about his motives as he hacks-and-slashes his way through the World’s Army.  It is evident by the third page in that the World’s Army is no match for the power of the warlord from Apokolips and his Hunger Dogs.  I would very much like to know where these Hunger Dogs came from (Brutaal, Beguiler, and Bedlam), as they look to play a much larger part in the coming issues.  The World’s Army has lost, it would seem, but the Wonders are still alive.

Spoiler
The only non-Wonders to survive from the World’s Army are Kahn! and Mr. Terrific.

The Wonders then plan to take the fight to Steppenwolf and his men, but choose instead to help the survivors.

Spoiler
Wesley Dodds notes that there has been a full retreat ordered and the World’s Army Wonders work with the New Wonders to save civilians and survivors.
In an issue that was highlighted by war and set in a literal warzone, there is very little fighting done by the heroes.  I’m bursting with excitement to tell you all what happens next, and as I said in the beginning, I believe it is with this last page that Earth 2 rises to a new level or awesomeness or falls on its face.  (see Spoilers)

I can’t complain about the artwork done by Nikola and Trevor Scott, but I can’t help but find Steppenwolf a bit underwhelming.  He looks more like a 1980’s video game boss than anything truly threatening.

Spoiler
Although that won’t matter for long *wink, wink*
  There are some great panels of the Wonders using their powers to save those still in Dherain, but the best work is done at the finale.  The Scotts are able to give life to the color red – a personal favorite, so I’m biased – and demonstrate how truly terrifying the best Apokolips has can be.

The story is definitely propelling forward after this issue.  One of my biggest problems with Earth 2 was the murky story, and that does not get lost here.  There is one scene

Spoiler
Green Lantern punching Steppenwolf
that felt like there was a page missing that should have been there, and the issue overall feels a little choppy.  I’m going to write that off as a victim of page constraints, needing to fit everything in for the entire issue.

Spoiler

  • Here’s my “Hunger Dogs” diary:
  • Hey, I wonder where the Hunger Dogs came from.  Like, did they fight against the Trinity of Wonders in the first war?
  • If they didn’t then where did they come from?  All connection to Apokolips was cut following said war.
  • Woah! Brutaal just totally shot Omega Beams out of his eyes.
  • Steppenwolf and Brutaal just killed Green Lantern! What?! Why would you go in alone Alan? Why?!
  • So in all of this mayhem, two reporters are totally unscathed just so that they can be there to film Steppenwolf’s gloating.  Shouldn’t he be trying to chase the Wonders? And did he leave them alive just so he could use their camera to brag?  If so, excellent combat awareness, Steppenwolf.
  • Oh DAMN…Brutaal just karate-chopped Steppenwolf in half AND Omega Beam-ed him, that was insane.
  • Brutaal is Superman?! WHAT?! And he’s all “HAIL, DARKSEID!” WHAT?!
  • So…did Steppenwolf know that Brutaal was Superman?  He had to, right? I mean, I know that explosion in issue #1 shouldn’t have killed Clark, and how would Steppenwolf not know?
  • And if he didn’t know, how dumb is Steppenwolf?  It clearly doesn’t matter anymore, but there’s going to have to be some serious explaining as to where Superman came from.
  • How is Superman being controlled anyway?  I thought you were better than that, Supes.
  • Does that mean the Batman that Hawkgirl encountered was indeed THE Batman?  He killed those dudes, but maybe he’s gone nuts-o with rage?

Favorite Quote: (SPOILER)

Recommended If…

  • You’ve want insanity, plain and simple.
  • You’ve been waiting for the story to pick up.
  • You want horrifyingly brutal and beautiful artwork for a few pages.

Overall:

There are a lot of questions to be answered following the final pages of “To The Victor…” but the stakes in Earth 2 have never been higher.  The holes in the story and general lack of speech at all are compensated with quality artwork. How will our Wonders respond?

SCORE: 7/10