Wednesday 8 February 2017

Earth-2: Society #21 Review

Title: Earth-2: Society #21
Story: After the End: The Final Fate of Earth-2
Characters: Huntress (Helena Wayne), Power Girl (Kara Zor-L), Fury (Donna Troy), Hawkgirl (Kendra Muñoz-Saunders), Flash (Jay Garrick), Superman (Val-Zod), Commander Steel (Henry Heywood III)
Creators: Dan Abnett (writer), Vicente Cifuentes (artist)
Publication Date: February 2017
Available In: Print | Digital

Summary: The heroes of Earth-2 put up a final fight against the Ultra-Humanite for the future of the new Earth-2. But is their combined effort enough to ward off the Sandmen Army and the god-like powers of Alan Scott? And what of the Huntress and her team of two? Do they have what it takes to stop the Ultra-Humanite from having complete control over the new Earth? What will the Huntress lose in the final battle against the Ultra-Humanite? The battle for the new Earth-2 ends here in this literal groundbreaking conclusion.

Review: This is essentially the final chapter of this story arc, which I imagine makes the actual final issue the epilogue to this series. Admittedly, this was a chapter that went out with a bang in a rather anticlimactic way, or at least, it didn't pack the emotional punch it was aiming for. Pretty much all the heroes are beaten and one of them is killed in the process, and it took Alan Scott by himself to overcome the Ultra-Humanite's control on him to beat him. Once he killed the Ultra-Humanite, that was pretty much it. There aren't any meaningful character moments to speak of that are actually worthwhile.

The only character writer Dan Abnett attempts to give a meaningful conclusion to is the artificial Dick Grayson character few people care about. I'm assuming it was planned since the Annual at least that this character would be getting the axe soon since there was some foreshadowing to this moment in that story. The Annual did make a point of emphasising that the legacy of Batman is constantly met with a tragic end, and Grayson's demise in this issue continues that trend. However, his heroic sacrifice is rendered meaningless by the fact that he was never a legitimate Batman successor to start with and was literally nothing more than a gimmicky placeholder. As such, his loss doesn't carry any emotional weight for the reader. At least not compared to if this had been the original Dick Grayson from the pre-Crisis Earth-2 continuity who was actually mentored and raised by Helena's father, and worked alongside him as the Robin to his Batman.

If this Earth-2 Dick Grayson had a similar backstory to the pre-Crisis original, the heroic sacrifice would've at least paralleled that of Helena's father in Earth-2 #1 in a much more meaningful way that would've carried a much stronger emotional weight on Helena's character, and ultimately the reader. But that is exactly the problem: there is absolutely nothing about this Dick Grayson that is actually authentic. There never was. Without that original history intact, the scene where Helena cradles Grayson's lifeless body in mourning feels forced and outstandingly artificial. A problem not helped by the fact that we--the reader--were never shown the journey of how these two people met, how they bonded, how they formed a relationship, and what led to Helena to eventually allow this strange man to wear her father's identity and even run her family company. We were just told that these things happened, but we were never shown the details.

At best, Abnett seems to acknowledge in this issue that this Dick Grayson is not particularly popular with fans given the rather trivial way he was killed. Compared to the heartfelt way James Robinson depicted Bruce saying goodbye to his teenage daughter in Earth-2 #1 before sacrificing his life to save her (and ultimately the planet from the threat of Apokolips), that same amount of thought is not present in Dick's sacrifice. He is instead depicted as behaving rather recklessly. It's hard to say for certain if Dick thought his son was killed by the Ultra-Humanite, effectively acting like he had nothing else left to lose, or if he was just being stupid.

It was never confirmed by the end of this issue if John is in fact dead or simply unconscious following the Ultra-Humanite's attack. If he does end up surviving, then Dick very stupidly orphaned his own son, which honestly continues the trend of him being a bad parent--something that became characteristic of him since Earth-2: World's End. Either way, Abnett got rid of the final problem that was hurting this series which was the unnecessary inclusion of a new Batman on a world where Bruce already has a daughter of his own to succeed him, and especially one that has zero authenticity as Dick Grayson. Unfortunately, with this series ending, his removal doesn't really matter at this point.

With only one issue left, the final issue will most likely focus on telling individual short stories with these characters as they adjust to their new setting. Hopefully, moving forward with Justice Society Rebirth, we get the classic versions of all of these characters back on Prime Earth, and Prime Earth versions of characters who don't already have a pre-Crisis or pre-Flashpoint counterpart like Val-Zod. Hopefully, moving forward, the Justice Society characters will be given more heartfelt story arcs that allow for meaningful character development. Two things this botched New 52 Earth-2 has consistently lacked was the heart and soul of the pre-Crisis original, and the complex, interconnected histories and character developments of the classic characters people are more fond of. Let's hope that with the reinstatement of the original characters to Prime Earth, Rebirth changes that.



  1. If John becomes the new Batman, I swear to God...-_-

    1. Yuck, let's not even put that out there in the universe. He's so ill-fitting it hurts. Hopefully he at best would be used in a Robin capacity because he has no business standing in front of or trying to lead his 'Aunt Helena' around. It almost makes sense they would recreate the dynamic duo with those two since they are both orphans. She would train and raise him the way the earth 1 Dick was raised by her 'father.' I could deal with that.

  2. At this point I would like to see this team in a new series, outside of time and reality, and they travel wherever to stop time anomalies and defend those who need it in other parallel realities in the multiverse. I was thinking if they have adventures like this than they don't have to be on earth 1 justifying their existence as these parrallel reality other earth characters. Huntress and Power Girl can stay as they are, and eventually they could come across Lyta, the true Fury and gather and leave members behind organically as the story goes. This is a lot like Marvel's Exiles, and I feel this could serve very well as a new vehicle for my favorite characters to exist in continuity while exploring the rest of the other 52 earths. Considering this new planet they are on technically has no supervillains and the only one they had was just killed, and no one knows who they are and they need no protection, I see no need for them to stay on this new earth, so they may as well keep travelling. I'm just more than ready to see Helena and Kara celebrate their legacies without any 'help' from shoehorned male characters who don't have the pedigree or the training to justify usurping a legacy that doesn't belong to them. They wouldn't even have been a problem if Huntress and PowerGirl were portrayed properly as the leaders I know that they are after years of training on and off the field. Then they were shoved aside for people that should've been trainees. Val-Zod trying to calm down Kara is an insult and Dick coming out of nowhere out of paralysis with no training puts on a costume and stands in front of Huntress in every scene? They had the confidence to give them a series but not to have them lead their own team? This misogynistic fear that they suddenly couldn't be trusted to stand on their own two feet and hold down their own legacy so they create several meaningless male characters to waste pages and steal thunder was their biggest mistake since the torture porn this book became. Dan Abnett must've been forced to keep weaker characters that could've worked in different capacities, because it looked forced. They must've pointed at certain characters and said, 'make it work.' I stayed on the ride for Helena and Kara so I hope they appear on a regular basis in lead status where they deserve, in an uncompromising way that shows the strength of their history and respect to where they fit with their respective legacies.

  3. Dick should've been Oracle. He would've been infinitely more interesting as the techie of the team, and both would have abilities that compliment the other. He could've even become another Nightwing or Robin or a hybrid of both. Thomas Wayne should've been the doctor on the team, not Batman. Huge mistakes that took over Helena's spotlight when they could've recreated different versions of the bat legacy. I hated Dick the second they totally refrigerated a totally competent Barbara Gordon to make us sympathetic to his story and instead made most of us sick. Also, my pet peeve is that Yolanda Montez disappeared when she looked like she was going to be Wildcat again, totally sloppy forgetfulness.

    1. Thomas Wayne NEVER should've even been alive, in the first place! LOL Cleary that decision was made, to try to recreate the popularity of Flashpoint Batman. But it was completely unnecessary. If Bruce lives, then obviously BOTH of his parents have to die. Huntress and Power Girl should definitely be allowed to fulfill the roles of Batman and Superman, for the JSA.