You wouldn’t think that there would be much “backstory” to go over for a series that’s only three or four issues into its run. In the case of Earth 2, you’d be wrong. Comic scribe James Robinson started out Earth 2 with an ending: the deaths of the greatest superheroes ever. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Robin and Supergirl all perished trying to defend their world against the oncoming of Apokolips. Earth 2 #1 started well after this tragedy and slowly began to introduce the next generation of heroes.
Earth 2 #0 does two things simultaneously. It takes a deeper look at the war with Apokolips and it sets up a new villain for the current crop of heroes to take on. The issue opens with a bloodied man taunting the Dark Knight. Turns out this man, named Terry Sloan, started as an ally during the war. During Sloan’s research in how to stop Apokolips he discovered the multi-verse (remember how that wasn’t going to continue in the New 52) and it made him understand that to protect his world he may have to destroy it. So, in the middle of the carnage, he betrays his fellow heroes.
First, he uses synthesized Opal Kryptonite to render Superman insane and have the Man of Steel attack Wonder Woman. While the two of them are tied up in their fight, Sloan detonates a bomb that destroys all the cities who had fallen under the Apokolips mind control. Batman attempts to stop Sloan, but only wounds him. Curiously, the wounded Sloan has jagged bones coming out of him like Doomsday. Sloan escapes into another dimension just as the final battle comes to pass. The issue ends with Sloan attempting to rationalize his decisions. I’m guessing that Sloan will return and prove to be a real problem for the new heroes of Earth 2.
Once again, James Robinson creates something for Earth 2 that is new and completely engrossing. First, he really gets into the battle with Apokolips and the devastation it caused. Robinson plays on our feelings for these iconic heroes as they fall trying to save their home. There’s also a deeper violence here, the attack is harsher than the main DC Universe. Earth 2 #0 is also a crafty set up for Sloan to become a new villain without making his appearance seem forced.
Tomas Giorello’s art is also quite good. From page one this is an action epic. Giant explosions, big monsters, lots of superhero types punching things. Giorello keeps the same pace up with his art. The panel placement and frenetic pace of the pencils gives motion to the battles. I also loved his rendering of the devastation caused by Sloan’s bombs. You can feel the impact with them and it helps to convey how fragile the new world is. It’s also kind of cool to see Batman use a gun!
Earth 2 #0 makes an already amazing series even better