If you’re unfamiliar with the DC Universe, Earth 2 is a parallel Earth, one similar to our own in many respects, but different in many others. DC has employed this parallel universe concept for decades, currently claiming that their are 52 parallel Earths within the DC multiverse.
Once upon a time, Earth 2 existed during WWII and the original incarnations of modern day heroes, such as The Flash and Green Lantern, were still very much active. From time to time, these heroes would travel to Earth 1, for all intents and purposes, our contemporary Earth. It proved an opportunity to keep long revered versions of characters around while still focusing on modern incarnations – and it offered some great plot possibilities. As a kid, I loved it when Earth 2’s Justice Society of America would crossover with Earth 1’s Justice League of America.
A few years ago, DC brought the Earth 2 concept back, but instead of it existing during WWII, it is a world where Darkseid invaded and destroyed much of the planet. Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman died protecting that world, and now new heroes have emerged, heroes such as Jay Garrick and Alan Scott. And though these were the original men to bear the mantles of The Flash and Green Lantern in the early 1940s, they have very much been updated and have little in common with their previous versions. They are young, they are different, and they took some getting used to, but I have grown to appreciate them.
In this forth volume, The Dark Age, new series writer Tom Taylor pushes down on the accelerator and never lets up! I picked this volume up at the library and meant to read a few pages before bed. Before I knew it, I’d read the whole book (and stayed up later than intended). It’s so good, I could not put it down.
For some reason, Superman, previously thought dead, is now in service to Darkseid and destroying anything and anyone getting in his way. A new Batman has also arisen, more violent than his predecessor, but very much against the evils of Darkseid. Dr. Fate, the Flash, Hawkgirl, and Sandman are still fighting hard, but now we’re introduced to a new Red Tornado, a queen of Atlantis, Jimmy Olson, and an alien that may turn the tide against the evil Superman.
The beautiful thing about Earth 2 is that it is not trapped in the endless cycle of its characters’ counterparts. On Earth 2, anything goes, and Tom Taylor has taken full advantage of that fact. Our heroes are pummeled throughout most of this book with nonstop action, yet Taylor still builds a captivating plot and introduces new mysteries. Truly, this is one of the most exciting super hero books I’ve read in quite a while.
As always, Nicola Scott’s pencil’s are exquisite. She uses clean lines, dynamic angles, and fluid pacing. Furthermore, at one point Barry Kitson helps out with the pencils, and the transition is nearly seamless. I’ve followed Kitson’s work since the mid-1990s, and he’s never been better!
One thing that drives me away from mainstream super hero comic books, especially those by DC or Marvel, is that no matter how much things change, they will always stay the same. It’s a necessity to the serialized business. Parallel universes give publishers and creators the chance to really cut loose and provide unpredictable stories. Earth 2 is a prime example of how such stories can be successfully executed, and The Dark Age is my favorite installment to date.