Earlier this summer at the E3 conference, Nintendo announced a new Smash Bros. game which will include previously unavailable characters. Nintendo fanboys went crazy because these new characters are basically just grist for the mill, and you can never have enough toys to smash into each other. While this formula works well for melee video games, it isn’t as effective in single comic book titles where readers are trying to follow all the characters’ plot lines. But this is the approach DC seems to be approaching with Earth 2, and my head is about to explode.
Salutations. I am Hal, back from a summer hiatus, and this is Comical Musings, where our random thoughts on comic book culture take flight. It has been a while since I’ve written a post on Earth 2, and the longer it goes the more reluctant I am to do so. Not because I’m not reading; at the moment I am still enjoying the title. With each new issue, the world of Earth 2 gets more and more complicated, and I feel like it would require more and more explanation to untangle it all for a blog post. It’s still at a level where I can keep track of everything going on (I think), but it’s about to overflow my character buffer, at which point I will give up and allocate the memory space to something more productive, like Collider.
In retrospect, a character overload was probably inevitable when DC constrained an entire universe full of characters to a single title. And they may have plans to rectify the problem, as there seems to be some bleed-over between Earth1 and Earth2 in upcoming comics. I have said in the past that I love cross-over comics, where diverse characters meet and interact, but Earth 2 is becoming an exponential cross-over, with new characters being introduced in every issue. If this trend continues, by this time next year they will only be able to allocate one panel per character.
So the other day I sat down with my brother and tried to explain the current state of all the players in the Earth 2 universe. As I watched Scott’s eyes gloss over when I wasn’t even half way through the character list, I realized that this would make a great blog post. Perhaps the capacity to induce a mind-numbed stupor isn’t a good metric of quality in an online article. But I hope this post might serve a census or a SparkNotes for anyone just getting into Earth 2. And it will allow us to tag lots of superhero’s names, which might get us some extra views from people Googling for random characters.
Now, where should I begin? Well, you can read about the initial character line-up in some of my previous posts. Lets just jump right in and see where everybody is at…
Steppenwolf seems to be the primary antagonist, and he wants to take the world on a magic carpet ride of destruction. After the war he escaped to the fictitious country of Dherain, where he took over and has been amassing his forces (and breeding giant Apokolips rats for his mounted soldiers to ride on.)
The World Army is none too pleased by this, and they have been mustering their forces in preparation for an assault on Dherain. At the same time, they have a few side missions taking place. The Atom (Al Pratt) just got back from Cambodia where he captured the New 52 version of Brainwave (Henri Roy) and recruited his son (to become Brainwave Jr). Captain Steel (Hank Heywood Jr) was sent to Rio de Janeiro, to investigate the local fire pit. Giant flaming craters opened up across the globe when Terry Sloan (8th Wonder/Mr Terrific) “liberated” millions of people from the anti-life equation, so Captain Steel is sent into the least lethal one. He comes out extra crispy stammering about a “Red Lantern” who will bring doom if she wakes up. And in their spare time the world army maintains their pursuit of the unauthorized superheroes, the new Wonders.
The Flash (Jay Garrick) helped Khalid Ben-Hassin recover the Helm of Nabu so he could become Dr. Fate, and save Jay’s mom from Wotan. Hawk Girl (Kendra Saunders) was helping the Green Lantern (Alan Scott) investigate the death of Alan’s fiancé in China, until the Green Lantern got the call to go help wrangle Wotan. After getting ditched, Hawk Girl gets attacked by the Apoko-rat mounted police. Someone new has taken on the moniker and costume of Batman. He suddenly shows up, saves Hawk Girl, and promptly disappears. (He also appears to kill Earth 2’s version of Mr. Freeze; oh well, that’s one less character I have to keep track of.)
So after beating Wotan in the skies above Bostan, Green Lantern, Flash, and Dr. Fate decide to preemptively attack Dherain in order to get back in the good graces of the World Army. After beating a few of Steppenwolf’s troops they are stopped by the Atom, the Red Arrow, Wesley Dodds, and his Sandmen, who inform them that the World Army had been strategically planning a major attack, and that the new Wonders just messed everything up. But before they can get into a full-on slap fight, they are attacked by Steppenwolf’s “Hunger Dogs of War,” an as-yet unidentified trio of super-villains. One of them appears to be Desaad, and it remains to be seen if Steppenwolf is successful at cashing in on the popularity of The Hunger Games.
The forces of the World Army are under the command of Terry Sloan, who is also preparing to unleash the Red Tornado as soon as his superior intelligence tells him that they aren’t going to meet their quota of using the word “red” in an issue. Red Tornado appears to be a cyborg that is also female somehow.? (*Fun fact: the official term for this is “gynoid.”)
Amar Khan watches the ensuing battle from a World Army aircraft flying among an armada of attack vehicles hoving just beyond Dherains defenses. When asked if he is worried that Sloan is in control of the army, or that Sloan has built a love-robot, Khan says that he has taken steps to protect his interests, and reveals that the other Mr Terrific (Michael Holt) has recovered and is at his side. Somewhere in the distance Terry Sloan shouts, “KHAAAAAAAANNNNNNNN!”
Meanwhile, Steppenwolf’s main protégé, Wonder Woman’s daughter who Steppenwolf calls Fury, is on a mission to the ruins of Metropolis to kill/capture Mr. Miracle and Big Barda.
You may recall that in the New52 Powergirl and the Huntress are also from Earth2. They have been palling around on Earth1 as the World’s Finest (ha ha, wordplay), but there are signs that they are headed back to Earth2 for a visit.
References have also been made to Hourman and Wildcat, but they have yet to show up.
Oh, and Grundy is still on the moon regretting some of his recent fashion decisions.
So there you have it. They’ve brought in all these characters just in time for James Robinson to leave the title. Stay tuned to Comical Musings and we’ll keep you posted on who else shows up for the party (or makes an untimely exit). If you have a minute, leave a comment below and let us know what characters you would like to see added to the mix.
As always we appreciate you letting us arrange some of your electrons. Now shake off that glassy-eyed look and keep musing.