Earth 2 – The Gathering Quick Review: A Fresh, Intriguing DC Universe, No Big Guns

wonder woman gets stabbed throw the chest from behind by steppenwold
She ded.

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I have always enjoyed the Elseworlds imprint stories that publish well known heroes in one-off non-canon tales. These what-if stories let the writers do interesting things–take risks–with juggernaut characters that would be unthinkable in the mainstream continuity. Sometimes, history stifles creativity. That’s why I’m happy with Earth 2 – The Gathering feeling like an Elseworlds story, with the DC universe anchors of Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman killed off in the first act.

Earth 2 – The Gathering’s disrupts the established order as it explores a world missing its bedrock superheroes–no Supes, No Wonder Woman, no Batman. Instead, Green Lantern, Flash, Hawk Girl, and Captain Atom run the show. It’s an interesting premise that makes this DC universe feel intriguingly fresh as the characters get remixed origin stories to keep the plot tightly focused. There’s no Oa, Thanagar, Speed Force, and all the baggage that implies. Everything’s trimmed to keep story moving quickly and the spotlight on Earth (excepting the Apokolips alien invasion plot device). Despite some minor unevenness in the art, Earth 2’s story captivates, keeping you engrossed. It’s one of the strongest, freshest DC stories I’ve read in recent memory.

Background

Team

  • Writer: James Robinson – Co-creator of Starman with 20+ years of writing experience and known for his Elseworlds series The Golden Age. He’s worked on stuff published by pretty much every major comics imprint.
  • Head Artist: Nicola Scott – She drew Wonder Woman for DC Rebirth and did her own series, Black Magick, under the Image Comics imprint. Earth 2 was her “mainstream breakthrough” apparently.
  • Penciller: Eduardo Pansica
  • Inkers: Trevor Scott, Sean Parsons
  • Colorists: Alex Sinclair, Pete Pantazis, Tony Avina
  • Letterers: Dezi Sienty, Carlos M. Mangual, Travis Lanham
  • Cover Artists: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Rod Reis

Publisher

  • DC Comics

Ratings & Reviews

3 Takeaways

  1. This isn’t the regular sprawling DC universe and that’s a good thing – Robinson and Scott reimagine the DC universe without Superman/Batman/Wonder Woman. The world feel fresh, with its own unique backstory built. The Flashpoint universe is comparable–familiar, but different, with more narrative risks taken. The plot remixes retro and contemporary stories–you have a Jay Garrick Flash with a Golden Age influenced costume. Earth 2 avoids bloating the universe with non-Earth forces, reimagining origin stories to keep the action focused around Earth. There’s no Oa or Speed Force involved with Green Lantern or Flash’s origin stories here. The plot plays tighter and faster.
  2. The art is good, but the quality can be uneven and there’s a heavy hand with the glow effects – The poses are dynamic and scene compositions filled with action and technical detail in many scenes. However, some panels have a jarring lack of detail in secondary areas, while some faces are drawn with different levels of care just a few pages separate from each other. The most notable example is Solomon Grundy’s face losing detail in a key panel, but Hawk Girl’s awkward proportions while holding onto Flash and Green Lantern’s legless looking appearance on his first flight also bothered me. The other nitpick is a distracting Michael Bay overuse of light glow/bloom effects. I’m not saying the art is bad, it’s just little flaws that stand out.
  3. Flash and Captain Atom are stand out characters, with other characters receiving more questionable treatment
    Flash is likable–just an innocent kid who’s trying to figure out his powers and place in the world, with solid character growth into the role of hero. Captain Atom starts as a regular US Army grunt, but when you connect the dots of his origin later on–standing next to a nuke as it goes off–it feels genuinely cool. He’s likable for being a regular soldier trying to follow orders, come to terms with his powers, and be a force for good, a simple fighter. Green Lantern comes off as kind of an arrogant jackhole with a disposable husband who dies as quickly as he’s introduced while Hawk Girl gets almost no backstory. In terms of power levels, Superman dying from some scrub parademons and Solomon Grundy having world ending existential threat power feels a bit off though Grundy’s power buff is necessary to make him a credible threat.

Art Samples

parademons invading with soldiers firing at them
The first of many, many glow effects being used. The effect is much more pronounced in print.

flashing running and parkouring all over the place
That’s a dynamic entry.

hawk girl holding onto flash as heruns
Where’s Hawk Girl’s other leg? I get the perspective drawing, but her proprotions still look slightly off.

green lantern flies over water
Paraplegic Green Lantern?

solomon grundy panel comparison showing him standing being shot at vs choking hawk girl
Level of detail seems to lessen with later drawn panels of Grundy.

This review is part of the Quick Reviews series. Quick Reviews are concise with standard formatting (and spoilers) that you can read in a about minute to get the gist of our thoughts.

Sunny Mui

Native to the SF Bay area with a decade of Comic Con experience. Reader of books, comics, and more. He also writes short stories and poetry once in a while, when he's feeling to the task. Designer, developer, and marketer by trade, but professional fun person by night.

He's the lead in everything technical when it comes to Destroy the Comics. He built it on WordPress, hardened the security, optimized the page speed performance, implemented search engine optimizations, set up marketing automation tools, and customized the design. When something breaks, he's the guy that either broke it or has to fix it (usually both). He's also the guy coordinating the author team, handling marketing, and sourcing guest content--not to toot his own horn too hard.

A graduate of SFSU with degrees in Marketing and English Literature, he's got experience working in digital marketing agencies, startups, and in his own freelance ventures wearing a multitude of hats in every role. He's currently upping his technical game with a Udacity Nanodegree program in front end web development.
Sunny Mui

Post Author: Sunny Mui

Native to the SF Bay area with a decade of Comic Con experience. Reader of books, comics, and more. He also writes short stories and poetry once in a while, when he's feeling to the task. Designer, developer, and marketer by trade, but professional fun person by night. He's the lead in everything technical when it comes to Destroy the Comics. He built it on Wordpress, hardened the security, optimized the page speed performance, implemented search engine optimizations, set up marketing automation tools, and customized the design. When something breaks, he's the guy that either broke it or has to fix it (usually both). He's also the guy coordinating the author team, handling marketing, and sourcing guest content--not to toot his own horn too hard. A graduate of SFSU with degrees in Marketing and English Literature, he's got experience working in digital marketing agencies, startups, and in his own freelance ventures wearing a multitude of hats in every role. He's currently upping his technical game with a Udacity Nanodegree program in front end web development.

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