A Brave New World

Back in 2011, DC Comics rebooted their entire continuity in a heavily publicized event called “The New 52” The goal of which was to create a better streamlined universe that was much more reader friendly. However, due to a lack long term planning and discussion on what exactly was or wasn’t in continuity, the New 52 is nothing short of a mess. Some series have tried to start out completely fresh like Geoff Johns’ Justice League whereas others effectively continued on with their planned stories from before the relaunch like Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern. Yes, the continuity is so bad, not even individual writers can agree with what is or isn’t canon anymore. DC has caught a lot of flack, most of it deserved, for erasing many prominent characters that would fall under the obviously limited category of “Not another straight white guy.” It doesn’t help that most of the books that have come out under the New 52 are for the most part garbage, save for a few genuine gems. One of these exceptions is the series Earth 2.

The main three Wonders of Earth 2
The main three Wonders of Earth 2

Earth 2 is a place in the DC Comics Multiverse which previously served as the home for all the heroes who originated during the World War II era Golden Age of comics (which unsurprisingly was dominated by almost entirely white men) before a hilariously misinformed political movement pushed for the mass censorship of comics and nearly killed the entire superhero “genre” in the 1950s and early 60s. It’s the home of the original Superman that appeared in Action Comics #1, the original Wonder Woman, etc. In the face of a reboot, the status quo of other universes within the DC Universe were also dramatically changed, though rarely explored proper.

In 2012, DC Comics announced a new series, Earth 2, which would focus on an alternate realty with younger and newer versions of Earth 2 heroes under the pen of James Robinson. This was a very good fit, seeing how revamping old and forgotten characters is pretty much Robinson’s greatest skill. It recieved very little publicity save for the news that one of the characters, Alan Scott, a.k.a. the Green Lantern, would come out as gay. Unsurprisingly, people misinterpreted this as referring to the better known Green Lanterns Hal Jordan or John Stewart.

Upon it’s release, Earth 2 has proven that it effectively did what the New 52 was trying to accomplish but in a way that actually worked. Instead of throwing out the old continuity while paradoxically referencing it at the same time, Earth 2 doesn’t pretend to be anything more or anything less its own creation. Because of that, it allows the story to actually feel fresh and new, which DC Comics seems to not get these days.

Earth 2's most powerful Atlantian, Queen Marella (Aquawoman)
Earth 2’s most powerful Atlantian, Queen Marella (Aquawoman)

The plot begins five years ago with Earth 2’s “trinity” made up of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman in a war with an invading alien force. They successfully end the invasion but all die in the process. What follows is a series about the new heroes or “Wonders” that appear in the wake of an even greater invasion. Said Wonders include Green Lantern, The Flash, Hawkgirl, The Atom, Dr. Fate, Sandman, Captain Steel, Red Tornado, Mr. Miracle, Big Barda, Mr. Terrific, Aquawoman, Red Arrow, and a new Batman. What makes the series stand out is how plenty of the previously mentioned characters have received gender and racial changes from their previous incarnations all the while showing a world where international cooperation is what can solve global problems and crisis. Despite having an excessive amount of death and destruction, the series’ general motto is that we can always pull through and win the next time.

Val Zod faces off against his corrupted counterpart
Val Zod faces off against his corrupted counterpart

However what stands out as one of the highlights of the seriesĀ  is where on of the supervillians, Brutal is unmasked to be an evil brainwashed Superman sporting the Man of Steel logo who goes about on a murderous rampage believing he is the world’s true savior (that’s a burn). In the fallout of the event, the Wonders discover an underground bunker holding one of the most powerful superhumans on their world, Val Zod, another refugee from the destruction of Krypton who becomes this world’s new Superman.

In summary, what makes Earth 2 stand out as something exceptional in the New 52 line is that it’s a series that promotes international cooperation, features numerous heroes of color, and is written with a genuine optimistic standpoint even in the face of the apocalypse. It’s a series that comes by only once every few years and is well worth checking out.