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Earth Two #3

James Robinson
Nicola Scott
DC $2.99

A review in which spoilers happen so you are forewarned.

hétfo
kedd
szerda
csütörtök
péntek
szombat
vasárnap

Apologies to any of you who understand the above for inadvertently giving you a spoiler clue using an obscure language.

When last we left Alan Scott, he was speeding through the Chinese countryside on a bullet train about to propose marriage to his boyfriend Sam, a very well to do business owner in his own undisclosed right. Turning the page we then saw the horror of the train off its rails and careening toward a gorge below. You didn’t need knowledge of the Golden Age Green Lantern origin to speculate on Sam’s fate. If you were like me, you turned back a page and noticed a subtle green glow just grazing Sam’s right shoulder and the edge of his face and used this as a clue, along with the same glow seen wider from outside the plunging train, that we would find Sam surviving this disaster.

And you would be wrong. Sam does not appear to survive. That beautiful dark blue shirt Sam wears when we first see him? Well, if the informal Wikipedia overview of Chinese color theory is correct then a dark blue shirt is the new red shirt as dark blue is the color associated with funerals and deaths as well as symbolizing immortality. Not that I suggest Robinson is versed in Chinese color theory or the Theory of Five Elements any more than I am, which is to say “I Google”. I say Sam appears dead because that is what a badly injured Alan is told by an entity of green flame or energy; this entity being responsible for the green glow of last issue. Said green energy claims to be the embodiment of Earth’s energy, informing Scott that a champion is chosen in dark times and this energy must be transferred to a new champion, which will be Alan Scott simply because it has chosen him in more or less the same fashion that John Broome had Abin Sur choose Hal Jordan – we’ll found out more later. While the Green Flame in the Golden Age origin spoke and acted three times, the last of which was to save and make Scott a hero. Robinson’s version seems reminiscent of other elemental avatars carrying a legacy we’ve seen with varying degrees of interest. Swamp Thing as an elemental – yes. Red Tornado as one – no.

The green energy warns Scott that “an evil will soon be upon the Earth, which if left unchallenged will destroy all life.”  During the encounter it’s healing him, and the realization that Sam is dead is sinking in, so what else is there to do except fort Alan to accept the Green Flame’s recruitment offer. And the ring intended for Sam? Thank Gaia Alan didn’t loose it in the crash because he wouldn’t have an important object to serve as the energy’s focal point. Yes, we found out where that threat will come from in this very issue as an old villain is reimagined with allusions to The Rot currently in Animal Man and Swamp Thing. Though it may have themes in common with Alan Moore’s “The Grey” stories and a meteorite from outer space since that is indeed how Robinson refers to it. Come to think of it, a meteorite is the original source of the green flame. Looks like a fusion, or appropriation if you have a different viewpoint, of ideas. Well, better to flash forward to baddies suitable for the 21st century.

In another deviation from the Golden Age origin, there are survivors of this train crash. Just not Sam. Alan has the opportunity to mourn Sam’s death and thankfully Robinson and Nicola Scott refrain from directly showing us Sam’s body. Comics limbo is filled with LGBT characters from the past twentyfive years that have been forgotten or killed. I’d have liked for there to be one more gay couple in comics but I suppose if equality is what we want then equality applies in the collateral damage/ tragic dead lover as catalyst categories. I’m unconvinced this is what we should settle for. How many DC characters whose origins trade on the death of a loved one does this make now? Let’s hope dead is dead in DC, unlike before the relaunch though a bit of dialog from The Grey makes me wonder. On page 17: “I must be quick..clever…snatch my power…take life from a place to draw the green knight’s attention too”. Granted, the setting of the closing scene is Washington DC and drawing the life out of the nation’s capitol seems a more plausible idea to get Alan’s attention than The Grey appropriating and resurrecting Sam’s body as a means to draw attention.

So far in the plus column for Robinson is his effort to make Alan Scott comparable to Superman, more specifically, Earth Two’s version, as evidenced when he has the Green Flame tell Scott “[he] must stand in Superman’s stead.” In the minus column, while Sam wasn’t stuffed in a fridge, he wasn’t intended as a long term character let alone a great love on the order of Lois Lane or Sue Richards. Only time will tell if Robinson intends  and more importantly is capable of rising to the challenge of using Sam’s death to motivate Alan Scott the same way David Knight’s death did for Jack Knight in Robinson’s Star Man. And yes, just in case you read this, James, I know you wrote the first scene of two men in love with each other kissing in mainstream comics and wrote a compelling relationship for them, but you can only rest on those fourteen year old laurels for so long. As things stand for me now, I’m really dissatisfied with Sam’s fate and Alan’s singular distinction as comics’ first not technically a widower character, but willing to let Robinson show me what else he has planned.

The rest of the issue? Robinson teases with allusions to Fate, as in Doctor, and a connection to Hawkgirl who’s been in existence for a year. They’ve been preparing for the threat of The Grey it seems. Nice to see an overly confident Jay get challenged by Hawkgirl tossing him on his butt. And a somewhat tenuous pact, at least on Jay’s part because he’s still taking to heart  Mercury’s admonition not to trust anyone, is formed.

Nicola Scott does her typical bang up job with the art. Always wonderful to see her sense of anatomy and proportion bring fictional superheroes to life. And her visual recreation of a well known villain is quite fittingly grotesque. It’s a shame to put so much attentio on Robinson’s script when Scott and Alex Sinclair and Pete Pantazis have done such a stellar job of creating it.

And those seven strange words at the top of the review? They’re the days of the week, starting with Sunday, in Hungarian. An obtuse way to combine spoiler warning space with a clue to a villain.

March 7, 2015
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