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Fifty Shades of Grundy

In early July, astronomers announced that they had discovered a “grotesque twin” of our solar system. Twin worlds and parallel universes continue to be a popular theme in the comics realm.  And because the fourth issue of DC’s Earth 2 hits stores this week, I thought I would take this opportunity to review the latest developments in the Green Lantern’s favorite alternate reality.

Hi.  This is Hal, professor of universal comparative studies, welcoming you back to Comical Musings.  In case you’re just joining us, we’ve been following the reboot of DC’s parallel world, Earth 2, and speculating about upcoming revelations.

The recently discovered planetary system is described as “grotesque” because while its structure is similar to our solar system, the planets are larger and less hospitable to life as we know it.  This begs the question, which of DC’s worlds, Earth 1 or Earth 2, is the “grotesque” twin?  Since its New 52 reboot, the DC universe has undergone some noted beautification projects.  But with the reintroduction of Solomon Grundy and some exceptionally clunky dialogue, the third issue of Earth 2 makes me suspect that this might actually be more of an ugly step-sister.

Warning:  this post contains spoilers.  EDITED FOR CONTENT.  See there’s one right there.  If you don’t want any of the key plot points from the first three issues of Earth 2 dropped in your lap, then bookmark this page and go read the first three issues before continuing.

Surprisingly, issue three picks up right where issue two left off, with Alan Scott crawling out of bullet train wreckage.  He’s searching for his partner Sam, but instead he encounters a talking green flame with the power to heal his wounds and advance the story line.  Now I’m not one to toot my own tuba, but as I previously predicted, Sam did not survive the crash.  Also, kudos to my brother Scott, who correctly foresaw that the ring with which Alan was proposing to Sam would become the Green Lantern’s weaponized jewelry.

Overall, this version of the Green Lantern’s origin was acceptable.  The update to Alan Scott’s costume was sorely needed, and it turned out much better than Jay Garrick’s new safety conscious, power-walking unitard.  However, there were a few aspects of Alan Scott’s deputation with which I take issue.  First, it looks like there isn’t going to be an actual lantern.  The green power “…will shine forth…” from Alan “…as it would the light from a lamp.”  But that’s not as good.  Second, as the all-knowing green flame is describing the Green Lantern’s powers, it throws in “And you can fly.” (See below.)  This just seemed like a random power to call out, since it doesn’t mention other powers like super strength, which Alan exercises without being told.  It also struck me as an awkward interjection from this mysterious, omniscient entity that seemingly had decades, if not centuries, to plan what it was going to say.

But the most worrisome thing about this entire exchange is that the authors seem to be taking a very modern interpretation of the phrase “going green.”  Alan Scott’s power now comes from the earth.  He is “the earth’s one true knight.”  And there are repeated references to “the green,” some vital force within the earth, which selected Alan and which he must defend.  Now, I don’t have a problem with being environmentally conscientious – in the old continuity, Alan Scott’s ring was a recycled part of a railroad lantern, which was made from a recycled meteorite – but if the Green Lantern starts using his ring to fight pollution and protect endangered species, I’m going to quit reading before the Captain Planet flashbacks become overwhelming.

The other main portion of issue 3’s plot focused on Jay Garrick meeting Hawkgirl.  This side story was fairly unremarkable, except for a hiccup in the dialogue that was hard to ignore.  Having only just met, Hawkgirl tells Jay that he’s going to have to trust her.  Several panels later, Jay suddenly exclaims, “Trust you?  TRUST YOU?” without any apparent reason.  My brother, Scott, contends that this was a gross oversight by the editors.  But I suspect it is meant to indicate that while Jay’s feet may be the fastest on earth, he is a little slow in a cognitive sense.

On the other hand, unusually clear dialogue was offered from an unexpected source.  At the end of issue 3, a re-imagined Solomon Grundy announces himself from the steps of Capitol Building in Washington D.C.  Before the New 52 reboot, Solomon Grundy was an inarticulate, hulking zombie with chalk-white skin and hair.  The new Grundy is still clearly a zombie, but he looks more like one of Clive Barker’s cenobites.  The previous incarnation got his ill-fitting suit coat from criminals hiding in Slaughter Swamp, but judging from the studded straps and leather apron, something freaky must have been going on down at the swamp on Earth 2.  In addition to the power of articulate speech, this Grundy also seems to be able to cause giant roots to erupt from the ground, drain the life from his surroundings, and spread decay.  He refers to himself as an avatar of “the grey,” some death force diametrically opposed to “the green.”  Based on the fleeting glimpse we are given in issue 3, this villain seems more like an amalgam of Solomon Grundy, Black Hand, and the Rot (from Swamp Thing.)  This version of the character is interesting, but it’s not simple-minded brute we all know and love.

Nevertheless, I am looking forward to the next issue.  The teaser on DC’s website announces “The debut of the all-new ATOM SMASHER!”  I suspect this is a typo because the teaser for issue 5 makes reference to “the military’s hero, The Atom.”  Either way, neither of these queues were enough to draw my attention to a classic comics reference that slipped completely under my radar.  Back in issue 1 we were introduced to a diminutive Army sergeant named Al Pratt.  Back in the Golden Age, Al Pratt was The Atom, and he was the father of the modern day Atom Smasher before DC’s reboot.  So he will likely take on one of those titles in the next issue.  There is also a strong possibility that we will get to meet Dr. Fate, who Hawkgirl mentions in issue 3.  But I’m most interested in what happened with the two Mr. Terrific’s?  Whichever one proves to be most terrific, we’ll keep you posted.  Until then, keep musing.

~Hal~

PS:  Trust me…

About Hal

Favorite Comics: Flaming Carrot, Prophet, Dial 'H', Silver-age Green Lantern

Defining Quote: "Y'all don't want to hear me, ya just want to dance." -Andre 3000

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