Some Thoughts about DC’s Earth 2 Comic

Several months ago, as part of the second wave of comics in the “DCNU,” DC debuted “Earth 2,” which so far features reboots of characters from the Justice Society. Their decades-long history has been erased, and these new versions are at the very start of their heroic careers. The start point of this title was Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman sacrificing themselves to end the war against the forces of Apokolips. So, from the very beginning, we see things are different, as the “Big Three,” die horrible deaths and large swaths of the Earth are destroyed.

In the initial history, the founding membership of the Justice Society of America was: Atom, Doctor Fate, Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Hourman, Sandman, and the Spectre. Of these, so far we have seen Atom, Flash, GL, Hawkgirl, and Sandman as of issue five. Hawkgirl made a comment that could be construed as an allusion to Dr. Fate when she met Flash, and there have been several passing references to Tyler Chemical, which is the company run by Rex Tyler, better known as Hourman. Hawkman and Spectre have both been used on the main Earth, so they are, if rumor is to be believed about restrictions on duplicate characters, not going to appear in the book.

Other passing references have included Ted Grant, before the reboot long-time hero Wildcat. So far, he’s been just talked about as a boxer, and there was at least one poster referring to a Grant vs. Montez fight. Yolanda Montez became Wildcat after the Crisis on Infinite Earths, carrying on Ted Grant’s legacy, and her father was supposedly a fighter Grant had met in the ring. When Al Pratt was exposed to radiation, no doubt giving him his powers as Atom, a soldier near him was called “Harper.” The Guardian was a non-powered hero with an indestructible shield whose real name was Jim Harper. There is a mysterious “World Army” lurking around the edges, and they have made references to Red Tornado and Captain Steel.

Red Tornado was said to be “not completed,” which strongly suggests what we will eventually see is the android version of the character who has wind related powers, best known as a member of the “Satellite Era” Justice League. What many either forget or don’t know is that this android started off on Earth 2. Captain Steel was on the other side of the world, which implies he’s some kind of active operative. There have been, in the pre-reboot world, Steel, also known as Commander Steel, member of the All Star Squadron, Steel, his grandson, member of the often derided “Justice League Detroit,” and Citizen Steel, who was in the last incarnation of the JSA before the reboot. Based on what I’ve seen of the other characters, I’d bet that it will be some version of the original with an amalgamation of bits from the other two versions.

There is a new Justice League book coming next year, and we’re told one of the members is going to be Stargirl, with ties to Starman. Both of those characters have ties to the JSA, but there have been several characters called “Starman,” so we don’t know which it will be. Stargirl is also rumored to have ties to Pat Dugan, who used to be Stripesy, of the Seven Soldiers of Victory, partner to the original Star Spangled Kid, and then was known as STRIPE, when he built a suit of armor. So it sounds like Stargirl and Stripe/Stripesy are not going to be a part of Earth 2. It also sounds unlikely Star Spangled Kid (later Skyman) will be, either. And at least one Starman is out of the running. Three of them, the blue skinned alien Mikaal, Will Payton, and the alien ruler Gayvn, have no ties to the JSA, so if it’s one of them that’s linked to Stargirl, we might still see a Starman in the Earth 2 book… unless that “no duplicate characters” rule comes into play again.

Three of the heroes who have played the biggest parts so far in the Earth-2 book are Green Lantern, Atom, and Flash. All of them are different from their previous incarnations in various ways. The original version of the Flash was a scientist, a brilliant man who adopted his trademark winged helmet by way of tribute to his father, who wore a similar (but non-winged) helmet during his service in World War I. The modern Flash seems to be something of a slacker and drifter– so far all we know is that his girlfriend left him because he wasn’t driven enough and that he has studied parkour (free running) at some point.

Green Lantern has been changed on many fronts. The original used his ring for a wide variety of effects, including the creation of constructs like modern day Lanterns. The modern era version has been shown to fly, use superhuman strength, and stand up to a great deal of damage, more resembling such characters as Superman and Captain Marvel than Green Lantern. His costume has changed a lot, losing the cape and in general looking more like the version in the alternate future story Kingdom Come than most of the ones Alan Scott wore in his time as a hero. They also decided to change his sexual orientation, making him gay in this version. All in all, a great many changes, not to mention the ret-conning away of two marriages and a pair of superhuman children, Jade and Obsidian.

One could almost argue that the Atom has been changed the most. Before the reboot, Al Pratt, the original Atom, was initially a non-powered fighter who later gained a frequently ill-defined “atomic punch.” Pratt had two legacy characters based in different ways upon him: his son Damage and his godson, Nuklon, later known as Atom Smasher. Damage had many powers, but was usually shown blowing things up with a massive energy display. Atom Smasher originally could make himself intangible, but later (and never explained) his power changed to growth. The Atom in the Earth 2 comic shows elements of both these characters; we’ve seen energy blasts come from his hands and he can grow to immense size. Additionally, this version of Al Pratt was a soldier when he got his powers, and is still a government agent. The original Pratt was a hothead and a rebel; I had seen a line from his teammates that “The unofficial battle cry of the Justice Society is ‘Atom, wait!’” So now the modern Atom incorporates two other characters formerly related to him, as well as having changed his personality somewhat.

One point I find interesting about the Earth 2 book is the name. It is not called “Justice Society,” or any version of that. Given the history of the Earth 2 designation and the characters we’ve seen so far, it’s an easy assumption to make that this team will eventually become the DCNU version of the JSA. But we don’t know that’s true, and I’d be a bit surprised if they do eventually name it that. The DCNU seems to be a lot about modernizing things, and really, when was the last time you heard anything calling itself a “society” outside of a college lecture class? I’m hoping that the team eventually pulls together and becomes a real organization, but I don’t know that the name will come back. I am wondering if they might choose to go with some variation of DC’s biggest (literally) Golden Age team, the All Star Squadron.

There’s another detail about the history of this world that seems to me to be glaring by omission. Before the current crop of heroes, there were Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Catwoman, Robin, Supergirl, and Terry Sloane’s “Mr. 8,” (my nomination for worst renaming of the entire reboot). What did these heroes do? There’s been no mention at all of any kind of supervillains. While Batman and his group work fine as street level heroes with no archenemies to battle it out with, that doesn’t really hold for Superman and Wonder Woman. But we’ve heard nothing of any major bad guys, either in terms of what they are doing now or what they had done before. Did Superman and Wonder Woman spend all their time fighting natural disasters?

Speaking of Sloane, he met Michael Holt, the DCNU’s Mr Terrific (formerly Sloane’s handle before the reboot) when Holt ended up on Earth 2 to escape the cancellation of his less than Terrific comic (ok, kidding about escaping the cancellation, but it makes about as much sense as some of the rest of this). Holt hasn’t been seen since, but I’m betting he’ll be turning up in this title eventually.

There’s been a lot of speculation about who else might appear in the book. So far, aside from the ones mentioned or hinted at above, I’ve only heard of one other character for sure. Issue eight is going to see the debut of Fury. Before the reboot, the original Fury was a Greek girl who was empowered by the actual Furies of myth. The second Fury was once Wonder Woman’s daughter, then retconned to be the daughter of the first Fury. Given the speculation around Robinson’s statement that Diana “wasn’t the last Amazon,” it seems like a good bet this new Fury will have some kind of connection to Diana. But what kind, and even if she’s coming in as a hero, remains to be seen.