Welcome back to what is basically a prologue to a series of events that ended in the first issue of Earth 2 – Worlds’ Finest. That’s what this book is: it’s a prologue to a prologue to a book which has become defunct since the start of World’s End. And you wonder why it’s being canceled. Just two more months, people, then maybe we’ll get something new. Well, that, or the entire Earth 2 universe could be destroyed; I don’t even know what to think anymore.
Here’s a concept: we take all the characters who just fell out of thin air with Earth 2 and give them a proper backstory that shows how each one got to where they are. I actually like the direction that Paul Levitz’s book is going in, which of course was going to happen when there are only two more issues left to go before this book is mercifully shut down. The actions that set so much into motion and sparked the first Apokolips War as well as Earth 2 are finally being explored. Terry Sloan is gaining a little more credibility as the enigmatic villain we have all been told he was, even if we never quite had the evidence to back it up. We get a small look into the lives of Clark and Bruce. All things considered, if the last three issues were slimmed down and put into one larger book, it wouldn’t be that bad.
The last arc of Worlds’ Finest is intent on sharing the story of Earth 2 Superman and Batman, a change which I still hold as a huge mistake. Superman’s arc is pretty simple and he really only exists in this issue as a means to get the villain more page-time (we’ll get to her later). Superman notices that there is a problem when an unknown object crashes to Earth 2. He arrives, only to find Terry Sloan has scoured the area and cleared away whatever had fallen. Then Superman gets exposed to Kryptonite for the first time, and our villain appears. But throughout the entire issue, Clark is pretty much a non-factor.
Batman has such a high and low in this issue. The first half of the issue revolves around Robin and Catwoman trying to stop a human-trafficking ring. It has its off-beat moments, but I have to remind myself that this is the first Robin in this world. It reminded me a lot of when Dick Grayson was first introduced, and eye-rolling campiness ensued. Helena and Selina are captured and Bruce shows up to save them. It’s pretty cool, something straight out of an Arkham mission, but the bad guys all blow up before Bats can interrogate any of them.
Then there’s the second half. I couldn’t find the image, but there’s a panel where Bruce puts his fingers to Sloan’s lips and says “No more words, World’s Smartest Man.” Come on. Could you image Snyder’s Batman doing that to Lincoln March or the Joker? Bruce starts off as a Wonder and becomes the partner in some weird buddy-cop movie, or someone’s really obscure fanfiction.
This villain, though. If anyone out there can name a single more anonymous, less interesting, more random, less threatening, or more inept adversary in the last three years, I will be genuinely impressed. I don’t even know her name, and she’s been in the last three issues. I’m going all in with pocket “Woman from Apokolips”s and I will not be needing a poker face. For this entire arc her entire existence can be broken up into five easy steps:
- Appear from boom tube only when incredibly convenient.
- Talk about how Superman is a god among mortals blah blah blah.
- Try to drag Superman into boom tube.
- Be beaten incredibly quickly.
- Get thrown back into boom tube.
That is this woman’s life. How awful must that be? Where does she rank on the Apokolips depth chart that she can fail so consistently over so many years that Darkseid doesn’t just incinerate her after the fourth or fifth failed kidnapping.
For a book that has been so inherently broken, it’s something unique like the artwork that forces me to slow down and take a good look at each individual panel. While I think the tone and style of Jed Dougherty’s work is a fitting choice for Superman with its rounded, almost childlike features, it really doesn’t work for Batman. In fact, as much as I enjoyed his actions in this comic, it is his portrayal in the art and his dialogue that are completely out of character.
- That thing that landed on Earth 2 was Val’s pod from Krypton. So now we know how Sloan got his hands on a Kryptonian.
Favorite Quote: “It’s hard to say whether Bruce is a patient man…But when it came to his loved ones, he simply acted.” – Lois Lane.
- You’re a die-hard Earth 2
- You want the entire Earth 2 saga.
- You want to see Earth 2 Batman be a bad-ass.
Overall: As an avid follower of Earth 2 and a huge fan of the little universe that these books have created, I can see the value in trying to add as much background and world-building as possible. That being said, these issues themselves really have little purpose.