It’s been a difficult year for the Wonders of Earth 2. They had to deal with the destruction of their home planet, a battle against an interdimensional super-being bent on pitting the universe’s heroes against one another, and rebuild their entire civilization literally from the ground up. Terry Sloan, acting as overseer to the refugees, has returned planetside to activate some kind of terraforming machine in order to protect the Source Vault from some unknown enemy. Let’s just say, things don’t go well.
Earth 2 has always been a conduit for writers to explore a new world that is familiar to the DC Universe that we are accustomed to, but with the freedom of a “clean slate” to write unique and off-brand stories. What would happen if the entire pantheon of heroes just suddenly disappeared one day? Who would rise up to take their place? What challenges would they face? How would these relatively untested heroes react when a hostile planet comes to destroy their home? Would these Wonders, who only a short time ago were normal people, have the strength and will and cunning to beat back not one, but two of the greatest villains that the universe has ever known – Darkseid and Brainiac? Earth 2: Society brings with it the chance for Daniel Wilson to explore a rarely-seen point in comic history, the aftermath. With so many climactic battles in its history, there are a criminally low number of rebuilding storylines in the DC Universe. I hope that Earth 2: Society takes the chance, through its mix of flashback and “current” plotlines, to examine the life of the common people after supervillains destroy their homes.
Without a doubt, the strongest part of this book was the flashbacks. It follows Lois, first in the few moments following the crash on Earth 2 and then at various points throughout the year, as she acclimates to her new planet. Her story deals with a lot of problems that are brought to light in the form of her interactions with the other survivors. At first the people of the planet are hostile to her, even those she tries to save, treating her with a mixture of fear and paranoia that befits those who had just seen their planet destroyed. It’s hard to blame them, but that doesn’t make the resulting solitary voyage any less painful to read. Her journey culminates in reuniting a family which had been separated during the evacuation. Stories like these could be an entire series in and of itself. War refugees trying to put together the pieces of their lives with these godlike but clearly overwhelmed heroes desperately dealing with prejudice while juggling the desire to save their people.
While the flashbacks are loaded with character development and touching scenes that bring to mind what people suffer through in a post-war environment, the present was incredibly dull. I know that even though we’re three issues in, there’s still a lot to be done in terms of catching up new and long-time readers. But last issue left off on a pretty big note. Reading these back-to-back leaves readers with something of a disconnect. There’s so much rising action to Sloan activating the terraforming device, but then it’s cut short by Lois’ story and a lack of action. The entire section that takes place in the present lasts about five minutes. Without spoiling anything here, the end result of the Wonders’ arrival at the device will have incredibly far-reaching consequences. I would have liked to have spent more time at this moment rather than give it what amounted to little more than a passing reveal on the last page.
The most in-your-face moment of this issue was when Superman and Powergirl meet up outside of Sloan’s machine. They’re in the same airspace for all of ten seconds before a fight breaks out between the two. For a pair who were pretty involved during Earth 2 and World’s End, throwing each other through buildings might indicate that something went sour. Also, that beard that Val is rocking does not indicate many good things. Then there’s Alan, who has basically become the planet…which is cool. Kendra is out doing her own thing, trying to find a lost city which went dark after the refugee ships crashed. Flash is building houses, which seems like something Jay would do.
Batman doesn’t do much this time around, after being the focus of the previous two issues, but what he says when Lois and Powergirl show up reveals a lot about what’s happened to him since landing on Earth 2, “Yeah and now you heroes are showing up out of the woodwork.” I imagine something really bad happened between Dick and the other Wonders, leading him and Mr. Terrific to break off from the others and apply their own version of justice. While it’s interesting to think about all of the possibilities and conflicts that have occurred over the past year, all that matters is how Wilson manages to pull it off. There’s a lot of promise, but there’s been little to make the present storyline interesting.
The artwork, helmed by Jorge Jimenez, is a strong compliment to the narrative. Much of the credit goes to Anthony John Rauch Jr. and Alejandro Sanchez, who use impeccable coloring to bring the book to life in a way that gives each character a life of their own. Their usage of silhouettes makes each character look cool and each scene carries with it a certain drama that is not necessarily brought through in the writing.
- Once the action settles around the Source Vault, Lois finds Terry Sloan dead amid the wreckage. Now this all happens off-panel, unless that near-miss lightning strike killed him, which means that the odds are good for him coming back later on. We know Sloan is no ordinary person, and regardless of how powerful his abilities are, there are other versions of him throughout the multiverse. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of him.
- You like stories that humanize robots/cyborgs/AI
- You’ve wanted to know what the last year has held for the Wonders
- You’ve also been enjoying the art of Jimenez, Sanchez, and Rauch
Not Recommended If…
- You want the story to progress much father
Overall: Serving more as a look into the struggles of Lois as she acclimates to her new world, this issue acts as an interesting character study and not much more. We learn nothing that we didn’t know from last issue, so while the “one year ago” segments show the promise of an interesting story, the “present day” plot feels lacking and empty.